Serenity Dennard

Serenity Dennard: Cops still following leads 10 months after girl vanishes from children’s home

Authorities in South Dakota are still actively investigating the unsolved disappearance of a 9-year-old girl from a residential children’s home.

Serenity Dennard is believed to have run away from the Black Hills Children’s Home on February 3. Early on, police classified their search as a recovery mission due to the freezing temperatures at the time Dennard vanished.

Late last month, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom told People magazine that they are “persistent” in following leads on a weekly basis.

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Dennard’s adoptive father told People that the 9-year-old deals with severe reactive attachment disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder due to her tumultuous life in the foster care system. He said her mental health issues have caused her to threaten to run away or hurt herself.

Dennard had reportedly threatened to run away from the children’s home before her disappearance. She previously attempted to run away from the home but was caught, according to the news outlet.

In February, two employees were reportedly watching Dennard and three other children as they played in the facility’s gym when one of the children ran away. Serenity was said to have taken off while one of the employees pursued the other child.

The second employee reportedly didn’t follow the 9-year-old because they were watching the two remaining children. Instead, they were said to have dispatched additional staff for help.

Two people in a nearby 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 the staff before heading back to South Rockerville Road. However, there was no sign of the 9-year-old upon their return, according to reports.

In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and state Department of Social Services (DSS) found the children’s home violated protocol by waiting an hour and 41 minutes to call police after Dennard ran away.

Days later, authorities revealed that multiple dog teams detected a cadaver scent near where Dennard was last seen months earlier.

“It’s important to find Serenity and we’ve made it a priority, and as long as we have information to follow we’ll continue to follow up on the information,” Thom told People.

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

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[Feature image: Serenity Dennard/Pennington County Sheriff’s Office]