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Church plans search for missing girl, 12

A widespread search for a 12-year-old Buffalo girl who has been missing 11 days is set to start today following services in True Bethel Baptist Church.

The Rev. Darius G. Pridgen, pastor, is organizing the search for Shawnkila Moss, who disappeared Jan. 4 and has not made any contact with her family members since then.

"Although we know that children will run away, we have no indication that this is a runaway situation," Pridgen said Saturday. "It's a child that has not been to school, has not called home and who is missing. That's what's important."

Sholonda Brown, the girl's mother, suspects an 18-year-old male may have taken her daughter captive. Shawnkila, who goes by the nickname of "Ki-Ki," left home with the teenager last November but returned after four days.

"My daughter is not of the age of consent. She's 12. I think this guy is influencing her," Brown said. "As soon as he is captured, I want him arrested."

But, Brown added, she does not know for sure if her child is with the young man, "though I went over to where he lives and people said they saw her looking for him."

On the day Shawnkila disappeared, Brown said, she and her daughter had been arguing because the girl had skipped classes at School 43, where she is a sixth-grader.

Members of the Buffalo Police Department's Sex Offense Squad, which handles missing persons, are aware of the disappearance and are investigating, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood.

Lockwood, who has spoken with the mother, said he will be in contact with the Sex Offense Squad today.

"My intentions are to find out what's going on and find out if they need more help," Lockwood said. "Whatever they need, I'm going give it to them so that they have the help to find this young lady."

At True Bethel Church, images of the girl will be displayed on video monitors during all three services. Congregation members also will receive fliers to distribute seeking information on Shawnkila.

Volunteers, Pridgen said, plan to canvass the area where she was last seen near her home on Broadway at Grey Street. The girl is also known to visit friends at McCarley Gardens.

A reward, the pastor said, will be announced later today for the return of Shawnkila. She and her mother are members of True Bethel.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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