Police release new information in search for missing girl
VERSAILLES (Updated: 11:19 a.m. Thursday) - Authorities said Thursday morning 16-year-old Kiaira Lazae Burris was found safe at a hotel in Mexico. The Versailles Police Department said Mexico Police and Audrain County Sheriff's deputies located Burris about 11:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Police said Burris was unharmed and in good health. They said she was released to her mother, Shyla Henderson.
Burris went missing from Versailles Tuesday afternoon.
Versailles Assistant Police Chief James Burkhart said he believes Burris was alone when she was found. Burkhart said he didn't think Burris was kidnapped. He said she took her backpack with her when she left Versailles, suggesting she left voluntarily.
Burkhart said Burris was living in Versailles at the time of her disappearance, but it was not clear who she was staying with or the circumstances of her stay. Henderson lives in Jefferson City and traveled to Mexico to retrieve Burris.
Agencies in Kansas, Jefferson City police, Columbia police, Mexico police and Versailles police all participated in the search, Burkhart said.
MSHP previously said 20-year-old Antonio Jerel Primer Jr. was being investigated in connection to Burris' disappearance. Versailles Police Chief Chad Hartman said Primer was no longer considered a person of interest in the case as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Columbia Police Department said they received information that she may have been in Columbia between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. According to dispatch reports, CPD responded to a welfare check at 1403 Greensboro Drive at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday. CPD did not confirm whether the welfare check was in relation to Burris' disappearance.
Raechell Payne lives near that address and said she knows Burris. She and a friend, Ariaun Graham, said they saw Burris on Greensboro Drive after coming home from dinner Tuesday night around 8. Another neighbor said she saw Burris getting ice cream Tuesday from an ice cream truck in the area.
Graham, 16, said she has seen Burris near Greensboro Drive frequently this summer, often sitting on a green utility box at the corner of Greensboro Drive and Currituck Lane. Both Payne and Graham described Burris as "very friendly." Graham was shocked to see a Facebook post Wednesday morning saying Burris was reported missing.
Kim Smith and other neighbors in the area said they saw police patrolling Greensboro Drive and Currituck Lane around 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Police said Burris was seen on the east side of Versailles Tuesday in a dark gray or dark green four-door Chevrolet Malibu hatchback with front end damage. Police said two males were also inside.
Burris left her family's residence about 3:00 p.m. Tuesday and went to the McDonald's located at 103 Fairgrounds Rd., according to authorities.
Police previously said Burris left the restaurant with an unknown person.
Versailles police said, later in the day, Burris got out of the Malibu and asked nearby residents for money.
Versailles Police Chief Chad Hartman said the car was seen about 4:30 p.m. at a local gas station where it filled up on gas, failed to pay for the fuel, and left in an unknown direction.
Burris was seen about 7:00 p.m. at a Columbia residence, police said, but the residents didn't know where she was going or who she was with.
At 9:30 Tuesday night, the police department said Henderson received a call from an unknown number. Henderson said she heard Burris crying and said she sounded distraught. She also told police an unknown male voice came on the phone and repeatedly said "I hid the body" before hanging up. Thursday morning, police said an investigation into the phone call was ongoing.
Police said Henderson received a text at 2:00 a.m. Wednesday from an Internet application claiming it was Burris, and that she was fine at home. Officers were dispatched to Burris' home address, where family members said they had not seen Burris.
The police department described Burris as a 5' 7", 175 pound black female with brown hair and brown eyes. Burris, pictured above, has a tattoo of a rose outline on her left arm. When she was last seen, she was wearing a brown and tan sleeveless sun dress, black sandals with pearls and a black backpack with clothes in it.
Versailles police asked anyone with information to contact them at (573)-378-5481, 911, or contact their nearest law enforcement agency.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest information.]