Serenity Dennard

Serenity Dennard: Cadaver dogs pick up scent in search for 9-year-old girl who vanished from children’s home in the cold

Authorities in South Dakota said multiple dog teams have picked up a cadaver scent near where a 9-year-old girl vanished months earlier.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said canines detected the scent in the area surrounding the Black Hills Children’s Home, where Serenity Dennard reportedly ran away from on February 3. Despite the possible lead, KOTA reported that treacherous weather conditions have and continue to hinder search efforts.

Further, Thom noted that cadavers can’t differentiate between one deceased body or another, meaning they could be in pursuit of someone other than Dennard. Cold weather and rain can also decrease the rate of decomposition, hampering their search effort.

“Obviously that would complicate it if we found a body that we didn’t know was out there. That would complicate the issue, but we would still continue searching for Serenity as well,” he told the news station.

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Two people in a parking lot reportedly saw Dennard running north of South Rockerville Road on the day she was last seen. They went to the children’s home and informed staff before heading back to South Rockerville Road. However, there was no sign of the 9-year-old upon their return, according to reports.

Days after Dennard’s disappearance, authorities classified their search a recovery mission as it’s unlikely the missing girl survived freezing temperatures for an extended period of time.

“People think you should be able to just walk in and find her if she is in the woods and it’s not quite that simple,” Thom said. “The terrain is very rough, she’s a small child, she could be in a very small area so it just takes a very systematic process and the other question is, again, if she is in the woods, how far did she go?”

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