Family hopeful of finding their missing daughter

Published 9:21 am Monday, December 12, 2016

ST. PAUL  — The resolution of the Jacob Wetterling abduction case this summer after nearly 27 years has given the family of a missing Chisholm girl hope they might get some answers in their daughter’s disappearance.

There are 35 children from Minnesota who are considered missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. One of those missing children is LeeAnna Warner, who would now be 18 years old.

LeeAnna was 5 years old when she went missing in June 2003. LeeAnna was with her mother near Side Lake when she said she wanted to say goodbye to her friend.

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“She was sleeping in the car, and I was emptying out the car. She got out of the car, and I was trying to get her in the house and she wanted to go say goodbye to her friend, around the corner, and I said ‘OK, you’ve got five minutes,”’ said LeeAnna’s mother, Kaelin Warner.

Kaelin Warner said that was the last time she saw her daughter.

Chisholm Police Chief Vern Manner said two neighbors confirmed that they saw the girl knocking on the door and then walking away.

“Both neighbors went back to what they were doing and that’s where the mystery starts,” Manner said.

Investigators searched for LeeAnna with the help of volunteers. They used cameras to look into abandoned mines and a helicopter with heat-seeking technology. They also drained a local lake after search dogs picked up LeeAnna’s scent nearby.

Manner said a senior special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who worked on the Wetterling case told him the disappearance of LeeAnna “is the most frustrating case he has ever worked because there’s nothing, it’s a total vanishment into thin air.”

While police believe it’s likely LeeAnna was kidnapped, they can’t confirm it. Police urge anyone with information to come forward.

A Minnesota man confessed in August to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. Danny Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a child pornography count that let authorities close the books on a mystery that had haunted the state for nearly three decades.