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Minnesota authorities have turned their attention to a park along part of the Mississippi River in the search for a missing 6-year-old whose mother police found dead after an apparent suicide over the weekend.
Elle Ragin, of Northfield, has not been seen since Sunday, June 19, according to Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott.
Officers found her mom, 39-year-old Lisa Wade, dead in the family’s home on Maple Brook Court and warned that the deceased woman “may have been involved in the disappearance” of the child. Police said they had no other potential suspects Tuesday.
“We are still extremely hopeful, but based on the information [and] evidence we have at this time, we are concerned that we may not be able to find her,” Elliott said during a solemn news briefing.
Police tracked her mother’s movements through a search warrant for her cellphone records, he said.
“On June 21 at about noon, Lisa Wade drove from her home in Northfield to Mississippi River Park in Stearns County,” he said.
By 3 p.m. on that day, her phone shut off and has not been turned back on.
On June 23, Wade made contact with a maintenance worker and a Stearns County deputy in the park, according to Elliott. She was alone at the time and allegedly told the officer that she’d lost her phone and the keys to her black Honda CRV while hiking before asking for assistance.
The deputy arranged to have her car towed to a shop to get a new key, Elliott said.
Wade “seemed distraught” when she made contact with family members on the week of June 25, he said. She appeared on surveillance video on several occasions between June 23 and July 2 – each time without her daughter.
Searches of the home and surrounding area by land and air turned up nothing, police said. They then searched the park and parts of the Mississippi River and found cellphones belonging to both Wade and Elle. They found the girl’s phone on land and Wade’s phone, keys and purse underwater.
Police have closed the area to the public and the search remained ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon.
Elle is about 3 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 45 pounds, according to authorities. She has curly brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Elle’s whereabouts is asked to call Northfield police at 507-645-5477.
Police are awaiting lab results following Wade’s autopsy.