UPDATE: Missing little girl, 9, reportedly ran from staff at children’s home before disappearing into woods

A 9-year-old South Dakota girl who has been missing from a Rapid City children’s home since Sunday morning reportedly ran away from staff before possibly vanishing into some nearby woods.

Children’s Home Society executive director Bill Colson said two staff members were watching Serenity Dennard and three other children as they played in the gym when one of the children ran away. Colson said one staff member went after them, leading Dennard to take off herself, according to the Rapid City Journal.

The second employee reportedly didn’t pursue Dennard as they were watching two other children. Instead, they are said to have called for other staff to help.

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“By the time we could get on her trail she was out of sight,” Colson explained.

Pennington police said Monday that they’re looking to speak with a couple who were cutting wood near Foster Gulch and South Rockerville Road around the time of Dennard’s disappearance. Staff described the couple as being in their late 20s or early 30s and said they were driving a pickup truck, according to KEVN.

KNBN reported Tuesday that police have made contact with the couple spotted in the woods Sunday. However, officials haven’t released any information regarding that encounter to the public.

Local police and firefighters were reportedly spotted using at least three dogs to search Highway 16 and Rockerville Sunday evening. More than 65 volunteers and four dogs are participating in the search which has gone into its third day.

Authorities described Dennard as being 4-feet-7-inches tall, weighing 90 pounds, and having shoulder-length dirty blonde hair. She was last seen wearing a long-sleeved grey shirt with flowers, blue jeans, and snow boots.

According to their website, the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota provides emergency shelter and support for child abuse victims. Colson said he can’t disclose why Dennard was at the home due to privacy concerns.

This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information regarding Serenity Dennard’s whereabouts is urged to call the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office at 605-394-6115.

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[Featured Image: Serenity Dennard/Pennington County Sheriff’s Office]