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Search enters 40th hour for missing 5-year-old girl; reward offered

SHARE Search enters 40th hour for missing 5-year-old girl; reward offered
Destiny Norton

Destiny Norton

The search for a missing 5-year-old Salt Lake City girl entered its 40th hour Tuesday with still no sign of the young girl.

"We don't have any information," said Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank, while noting investigators still had no concrete evidence whether the girl was abducted or possibly ran away.

"We are considering this a missing little girl right now," he said.

Destiny Norton was last seen going outside of her house near 700 South and 500 East Sunday about 8:30 p.m. When her parents went to check on her 10 minutes later, she was gone.

A "person of interest" was identified by police Monday morning. Sevkija Ferhatovic, a 51-year-old Bosnian national with a previous arrest for investigation of crimes against children, was questioned for most of the day Monday by police before being released.

Tuesday morning, friends and family members set up a command post at Liberty Park to organize volunteer search teams. By 8 a.m. between 50 to 75 people had registered at the park to search.

Searchers were given a specific area to look. A map at the command post kept track of the area the searchers covered.

Volunteers were told to look in Dumpsters and alleys, pass out fliers and ask other residents and business owners to keep their eyes open.

"I think the response has been really good," said longtime family friend Jeannie Hill, who helped organize the search parties. "I'll be here until she's found or until her dad tell me to stop."

Both of Norton's parents, Rick and Rachelle, were at the command post Tuesday morning. Originally, family members said Rachelle, who is eight months pregnant, was on bed rest because of her pregnancy and the stress of her missing child.

"I can't just sleep and give up on my kid," she said. "She's my first girl and I love her very much. I just want her to come home."

Also Tuesday, rewards totalling $15,000 were announced by Meadow Gold and the Sund/Carrington Foundation. The reward was expected to be raised to $20,000 by Tuesday afternoon.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com