TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Investigators are trying to determine if a 17-year-old girl missing from Miami could be related to an Amber Alert that was issued Tuesday in Titusville, the Titusville Police Department said Thursday evening.
Titusville police said they "received interest" from Miami-Dade Police Department investigators in reference to a missing person case involving Daina Bellegarde, who disappeared from Miami on May 7.
"While we cannot discuss Miami’s case, we can speak for ourselves in that there is interest on both sides to find out if the girl forced into a vehicle in Titusville could be the missing girl from Miami," Titusville Deputy Police Chief Todd Hutchinson said.
Police said Bellegarde was brought to detectives' attention early in the investigation, but a witness initially claimed Bellegarde wasn't the girl she saw forced into a gray SUV on Barna Avenue shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday.
"However, the witness now feels it could have been (her)," Hutchinson said. "That, combined with the interest from investigators in the Miami case, has made this a stronger lead for us."
Rebecca Henderson, whose daughter witnessed Tuesday's possible abduction, said her daughter was thrown off after first seeing Bellegarde's photograph because the girl she saw pulled into an SUV wasn't wearing glasses.
Henderson said her daughter looked at the photograph again and they called police back to inform them that it indeed could be Bellegarde who was abducted.
Hutchinson said detectives are "increasingly convinced" someone has information on the possible abduction.
"If this was something other than an abduction, it is critical that we do not continue to pour resources toward an abduction when it was not," he said.
A MDPD spokesman told Channel 9 Thursday that although the agency's detectives met with Titusville police and Florida Department Law Enforcement investigators, they don't believe there's a connection between Tuesday's possible abduction and Bellegarde's disappearance. But the investigation remains ongoing, the spokesman said.
"We're exploring all possibilities regarding our missing juvenile," Miami-Dade police Detective Lee Cowart said Friday.
Police said Bellegarde is a frequent runaway who was last seen while being dropped off at school.
Bellegarde is described as black with black hair and brown eyes. She is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds.
Anyone with information about the possible abduction is asked to call 800-424-8477.
PLEASE SHARE!— FDLE (@fdlepio) May 17, 2018
FL MISSING CHILD Alert for Daina Bellegarde, 17yo black female, 5'5", 140lbs, black hair & brown eyes, last seen in the area of the 1700 block of NW 95th Street in Miami wearing a black t-shirt & khaki pants. Have info? Contact Miami-Dade PD at 305-471-8477 or 911. pic.twitter.com/p0jxnWR65w
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