A $20,000 reward is now being offered in the case surrounding the disappearance of 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Jeff Killeen announced the reward Thursday afternoon at the Weston detachment of the West Virginia State Police, saying, as a collective group, law enforcement feels it is "fruitful" to do so at this time.
"There were things we were looking at initially, but we now feel it is fruitful to do so," Killeen said regarding why a reward was not offered earlier in the case. "We now feel this is the way to go."
The reward, which is being offered through the FBI, is for information leading to the recovery of Aliayah Lunsford.
It is also available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons involved in her disappearance.
Killeen said investigators believe there is other information being held in the community. Law enforcement officials believe the reward will help lead to the disclosure of this information.
Killeen said there has been "good information" coming from the public.
"We appreciate community involvement," Killeen said. "It has been very helpful."
Killeen also put to rest rumors that Aliayah Lunsford may have been sold rather than just having disappeared from her family's Bendale home on Sept. 24.
"There has been a rumor floating around that Aliayah Lunsford was sold," Killeen said. "We have virtually ruled that out."
Law enforcement officials have not ruled out any of the three possibilities they have been investigating, including homicide, abduction or concealment.
Investigators are now using the West Virginia Fushion Center as a contact point for anyone wanting to offer a tip because it is manned 24 hours a day and includes representation and resources from many law enforcement agencies.
You can call 304-558-4831 to report any tips. Callers can remain anonymous.
You can also contact the Fushion Center via the Web at www.fusioncenter.wv.gov. Callers are asked to use the suspicious activity tab at the top of the page.
Killeen said a recent search of 35 acres in the Vadis area ruled out a lot of possibilities, but the investigation continues to move forward. The search resulted from several credible tips from the community.
Killeen also said any hunters who may stumble on to anything suspicious in the woods should mark the spot with a GPS device or other marking materials and contact law enforcement immediately.
Suspicious items in the woods could be clothing or other personal items and should be reported immediately for investigation by law enforcement.
Any person is free to search for Aliyah or make an effort to take advantage of the reward, Killeen said.
Aliayah Lunsford was reported missing on Sept.24 by her mother Lena Lunsford, who was recently indicted on six federal counts of welfare fraud.