Police are trying to sort out the facts surrounding the disappearance of a 9-year-old Indiana girl two days before Christmas.
Amber Story, the grandmother of Aliahna Lemmon, told HLN’s Nancy Grace in an interview airing Monday night that she believes the girl could have sleepwalked out of a neighbor’s Fort Wayne home early Friday morning and been taken.
According to Story, 9-year-old Aliahna and her two sisters were staying with a neighbor, Michael Plumadore, while her mother recovered from the flu. Aliahna suffered from night terrors and Plumadore was up for much of the night comforting her, Story said. Around 6 am, after she fell asleep, he left his mobile home to go buy a cigar.
When Plumadore returned, he believed all of the girls were still sleeping. He went to sleep and woke up around 10, at which point the 6-year-old sisters told him Aliahna’s mother, Tarah Souders, had picked her up. Story said that miscommunication between Plumadore and Souders led to a 10-hour gap before anyone realized Aliahna was missing and they called police around 8:30 pm.
Story said Plumadore is a close family friend who cared for Aliahna’s grandfather for two years before his death earlier this month. He has a few felony convictions in his past, but none appear to involve crimes against children.
“I have no qualms in saying Mike would not hurt any of those children,” Story said “…The only blame is to the person who took her.”
Still, she acknowledged that it was probably a mistake for Plumadore to leave the children alone. Story said Aliahna’s mother’s trailer has a deadbolt that is high enough that the girl cannot reach it but Plumadore’s does not, and Aliahna is capable of unlocking and opening a door in her sleep. The girl suffers from partial hearing loss and partial blindness, according to Story, but she has gotten out of her home while sleepwalking before.
Story said police have questioned Aliahna’s whole family—including the young girls—in addition to Plumadore and other neighbors. According to the Journal Gazette, there are 15 sex offenders in the mobile home park where her mother and Plumadore live, and police have spoken to all of them.
Story told Grace that search dogs picked up Aliahna’s scent going from Plumadore’s home to a bus stop but her trail then vanished. The bus stop is on the side of a busy road and Story speculated that someone may have abducted her from there.
Police told reporters Monday that they have no new leads or suspects in Aliahna’s disappearance, but they are working on the case around the clock, according to WPTA.
Watch “Nancy Grace” Monday at 8 pm ET on HLN for the full interview with Amber Story and the latest on the search for Aliahna.