Authorities Pursue Leads Decade After 'Beaner' Disappears

Posted at: 06/14/2013 5:20 PM | Updated at: 06/14/2013 11:53 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

On a summer afternoon ten years ago, a 5-year-old Chisholm girl disappeared on a walk to her friend's house.

Leanna Warner, known to some as "Beaner," disappeared on June 14, 2003. A decade later, Leanna's parents are maintaining hope that they'll find her alive.

Chris and Kaelin Warner spoke about that hope during a news conference with police at the Chisholm City Hall Friday.

"Everyday is a struggle and you have to hold on," Kaelin said.

Chris said "I believe she is still alive today. It is just a matter of finding out where she is at. Until you put her in my arms I won't believe otherwise."

Following Leanna's disappearance, the community as well as local, state and federal authorities joined the search. They combed the woods, used helicopters to search from the air and one point drained water from Longyear Lake to look for a body.

Fast forward 10 years and Chisholm Police say they have checked out 1,600 leads. Chief Vern Manner said they are still coming in daily. "We have not closed this case or considered it a cold case. This is an ongoing active investigation," he said.

In March, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children put out a new photo of what they believe Leanna might look like now as a teenager.

Kaelin, sometimes forgetting how much time has gone by herself, said "everyone needs to know it's a 15-year-old now. Not a 5-year old."

Kaelin and Chris very much believe Leanna is still alive, and said there are no words for the emotion that will come along with seeing her again.

Chris said "there's no evidence to show she's no longer with us so you've got to believe that she is."

Anyone with information is urged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. You can also call the Chisholm Police Department at 218-749-6010 or the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 651-793-7000.

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