Upon reading your article in Wednesday’s News Bulletin about the family vigil for Calandra Stallworth, a Crestview resident missing since the end of March, the Crestview Police Department would like to clarify a couple (of) inaccuracies.
Family friend Laura Hudson asserted that “the police aren’t doing anything or giving us any information and won’t let us search.”
We appreciate and understand her frustration. Ms. Hudson is partially correct. Although we actually are devoting tremendous resources to the case, because it is an active investigation, we simply can’t provide details of our progress.
I am sure Ms. Hudson and Ms. Stallworth’s other friends and family wouldn’t want any potential suspects tipped off if we were to provide updates on the investigation and details leaked to the wrong ears.
As I explained on April 21 when I replied to a Facebook message from Ms. Hudson, “Rest assured we have multiple investigators working to find Miss Stallworth, and we're working with several law enforcement agencies pursuing every lead we hear about.”
Additionally, we never told Ms. Hudson she could not search for her friend. However, we did discourage the idea on the grounds that untrained civilians, no matter how well-meaning, could inadvertently damage evidence.
“We want to walk on (Highway) 4 but most of it is private property and most of us think she's out there somewhere and want to look,” Ms. Hudson stated in a May 18 Facebook message.
Later that day she added, “Is there any way you can initiate a search so we all can look please. We beg you for this because we have (a lot) who want to search. Please.”
However, the Crestview Police Department cannot authorize civilian searches of private property. Additionally, Highway 4 is not in Crestview and therefore is not in our agency’s jurisdiction.
We provided Ms. Hudson a hypothetical scenario to illustrate how untrained residents could damage evidence and hinder an investigation.
“For example, a group of well-meaning people searching undergrowth and roadsides can camouflage scents that K9s might otherwise pick up,” we stated by way of illustration.
According to your story, Ms. Hudson misinterpreted that example to mean that we were actually about to initiate a K9 search, when it was merely an example of how evidence can be damaged by people tromping through a crime scene.
We appreciate the opportunity to clarify the misconceptions included in your otherwise warm story about Ms. Stallworth’s loving family and friends and their heartfelt vigil on her birthday.
We, too, include Ms. Stallworth in our prayers as we continue our active investigation into her disappearance.
Public Information Officer
Crestview Police Department
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