Florida girl lost a year before reported missing
Kansas City police seek link to child slaying
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Florida authorities Wednesday worked to track down a 5-year-old girl unaccounted for since January 2001, but reported missing only last week by the Florida agency that was supposed to be tracking her.
Meanwhile, police in Kansas City, Missouri, said palm prints believed to be from the missing girl, Rilya Wilson, don't match those of "Precious Doe" -- an unidentified child found decapitated in a Kansas City neighborhood last year. But the detective in charge of the case said investigators will seek DNA evidence to answer their questions definitively.
"These are not officially certified fingerprints," said Sgt. David Bernard, the detective supervising the Precious Doe investigation. "I want to see the DNA. That is the only way we will know one way or the other."
The Florida Department of Children and Families revealed Tuesday it had lost track of Rilya, who had been placed in the custody of her grandmother in 1999 after the parental rights of her mother and father were terminated. Department records indicate the required monthly meetings with the grandmother did not take place.
The case came to light last week when a caseworker contacted the grandmother to set up an appointment to check on the child. The grandmother told the caseworker that she had turned the child over to people she believed to be caseworkers in January 2001.
The grandmother, who police identified as Geralyn Graham, told authorities those people said they were taking the child for evaluation. They returned about a week later for the girl's clothing, saying the tests were taking longer than expected. The girl was not seen again.
"The department and I take full responsibility for what happened," said Charles Auslander, the district director in Miami.
Florida agency officials said Rilya's original caseworker resigned recently after being accused of falsifying documents in another case. Auslander said she was permitted to resign rather than be fired and said she had told investigators she knows nothing about what happened to Rilya.
The grandmother said she repeatedly called the state to check on the child, but the agency said it has no records to confirm the calls. Miami-Dade police said the grandmother is not under suspicion.
Sgt. Tony Sanders, a Kansas City police spokesman, said there are some "interesting coincidences" between the Florida case and that of Precious Doe -- including her age, race, size and that fact that no one reported a missing girl.
The body of Precious Doe was found April 29, 2001, in a south-central Kansas City neighborhood. Her head was found nearby two days later.
"I wouldn't consider it any different than the hundreds of other leads we have received, but it's still a very good lead which we are following up on feverishly," Sanders said.
Rilya's mother had drug problems, authorities said, and was on her way back to Miami from Cleveland, Ohio. In an interview with CNN's Miami affiliate WFOR, a man who identified himself as Rilya's father said he had no idea what happened to the girl: The last time he saw her, he said, was about two years ago.
The child's grandmother hasn't recognized anyone from photographs matching the description of the person who came to pick up Rilya, Miami-Dade police Detective Ed Munn said.
Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman Lupo Jimenez said Kansas City authorities contacted Miami-Dade police after information was entered into a nationwide computer database of missing children.
-- CNN Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.
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