Alaska’s 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr has been missing since Sept. 6. Now, state and federal law enforcement officials are treating her disappearance as a criminal investigation.
The Alaska State Troopers Lt. David Hanson read a statement Thursday morning that “given the length of time that Ashley has been missing, combined with the exhaustive search efforts that have taken place, as of this morning, we are shifting our focus toward the ongoing law enforcement investigation, including whether criminal activity may have been involved in Ashley’s disappearance,” KTUU reports.
That search effort included 15 FBI agents in Kotzebue, a city of around 3,200 located along the northwestern coast of Alaska; federal law enforcement supplemented local search efforts that included state troopers, Kotzebue Police Department and between 40 and 50 search-and-rescue volunteers, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Ashley was last seen near a city park around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6.
“The park is a popular place for local kids,” according to KTVA.
Anchorage Daily News reports Ashley’s cellphone was found a half-mile from the park “in the opposite direction from her home.”
Trooper spokesman Jonathon Taylor said the cellphone “is with investigators now. They’re analyzing it, trying to determine if it’s been damaged, if there’s any information that they can glean from that,” according to Alaska Public Radio Network.
KTVA reports the search for the missing fifth-grader began at 2 a.m. on Sept. 7.
Ashley is energetic and was passionate about basketball and “loves Steph Curry,” her father Scotty Barr said, according to KTVA.
She was an honor student who loves “picking berries with her mother,” Barr said, according to KTUU.
He told KTUU his daughter “often uses her allowance to buy candy and toys for other kids and enjoys playing and looking after her niece.”