The FBI has joined the search for a missing 8-year-old girl from California who was last seen Sunday evening riding a scooter outside her apartment complex, police said Monday.
Madyson Middleton, who goes by “Maddy,” was last seen about 6 p.m. at her Santa Cruz apartment complex, the Tannery Arts Center on River Street, riding her white Razor scooter, wearing a purple knee-high dress with black leggings, helmet and long dark hair pulled to the side in a braid. The girl, standing at 4 feet tall and weighing 48 pounds, was captured on video surveillance, which Santa Cruz police shared with the public.
"She was in the courtyard where she was supposed to be," her mother, Laura Jordan told NBC affiliate KSBW. "I already fell apart. Now, I'm just in survival mode. I can't explain how difficult this is."
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Jordan added that her daughter has never run away, and that she's checked with all her friends, and assisted police in knocking on every door in the area.
Search crews and special K-9 teams spent Monday scouring the complex, a nearby levee and the beach along the Pacific Ocean. Dogs picked up the girl's scent for a bit, police said, but then lost it. About 100 volunteers in the neighborhood also stayed up through the night, checking homeless encampments and along the river, all without luck.
"We're feeling a little helpless," neighbor Jasmine Schlafke said Monday.
At a news conference Monday, police spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said there was no particular person of interest in the case, other than Maddy herself.
Blaschke did not describe the girl's disappearance as a kidnapping. At this point, she said Maddy's case is being treated as a missing person's case. She said police did not issue an Amber Alert because that is reserved for children who are seen abducted in vehicles.
Blaschke did acknowledge, though, that the disappearance is highly unusual. "We're all concerned," she said. "It is suspicious to have a child missing this long." Blaschke added that Maddy's "family has been cooperative."
A former property manager at the apartment complex, Diane Holtze, told NBC Bay Area the girl lived there with her mother since 2010 and described her as a "really, really sweet girl." Holtze said there was nothing that stood out about the girl's family.
Emerson Sanderson said that what's so frightening is that all the children at the complex scoot around and play with each other, and the disappearance is taking its toll on the many people who live there, home to lofts, a performing arts center and many types of artists.
Added David Giannini: "The fact that we're a small little beach town with an inordinate amount of bad behavior...it's just killing me man, breaking my heart. I want this little girl back home safe. I want the town to be safe for everyone."
"She's just a gem," Joe Mailloux, a family friend and neighbor said.
Anyone with information should call 911 and check the police department's Facebook page.