Mikaela Lynch, 9, went missing from her family's vacation home in Clearlake, Calif. on Sunday. Fears continue to grow because the girl is autistic, cannot speak, and may not realize that she is missing.
Given her "mental state, age and circumstances, is believed to be an at risk missing juvenile," police said in a statement.
The little girl was playing outside in the backyard with her younger brother when he ran inside to avoid a bee. The gate was left open, and Mikaela apparently went missing. Police found her clothing and shoes on the family's yard, leading police to believe that she is completely naked and barefoot.
"She does like water. The residence does back up to waterways. As far as we know, she does not swim," Clearlake Police Lt. Tim Celli told The Santa Rosa Democrat.
Surveillance video from a neighbor's residence shows Mikaela clearly running away from the family's home.
"It shows she was alive and well at a specific time and heading in a certain direction, so we're able to focus our search dogs and scent dogs in that area which can lead us to other areas," Chief Craig Clausen told KSDK News.
Volunteers, including several from Mikaela's school, are helping with the search for the little girl.
"She likes to explore and climb. It's just part of who she is … very inquisitive," Haben Porter, one of the teachers, told KGO-TV.
"Here I am and hopefully we find her," neighbor Jeanette Wilson told KSDK. "We just got to keep praying that she's okay and she's safe and that she gets returned home."
Mikaela's family has asked that people check their yards because she is known to curl up in a comfortable place and remain there. She may not have gotten very far from home, given her age and the fact that she may be barefoot and nude.
"Obviously this is a very difficult time for the family, for the parents especially. We are eternally grateful for the volunteers, the law enforcement, and the people who have come out, the community. The family remains hopeful at this time," Mikaela's godfather, Mike Dowling, said.