When Jeremy Chadburn's little girl went missing in Rutland Thursday night, he thought the worst.
"I just thought something happened, that she disappeared because somebody said they saw a white car going up and down the street," Chadburn said.
When the 7-year-old did not come home following an after-dinner bike ride, her mom called police. That's when teams of officers and civilians began searching her Northwest Rutland neighborhood by land and air.
"She doesn't do this. She doesn't fight with her mom. I mean, sometimes she has a little temper tantrum and she'll lock herself in her room or whatever, but she doesn't ever take off without going home. She knows she has to be home before dark," Chadburn said.
A door-to-door search cracked the case after midnight.
"I just thought, she said my mom was sleeping and knows that I am going to spend the night here tonight," Dawn Kitchin said.
The little girl was found sleeping in Kitchin's Pine Street apartment, about one-quarter mile from her Library Avenue home. Kitchin says the missing child is friends with her 10-year-old daughter.
"I went and woke up the girls and said, 'The police are claiming that you're a missing child.' And she said, 'What? Maybe my mom did not remember,'" Kitchin said.
Rutland Police Sergeant John Sly says the search was by the book.
"We would have responded in kind to any neighborhood," Sly said. "Again, we are talking about a 7-year-old child and I don't care what neighborhood they're in, we would have responded the very same way."
Sly says the situation may be best attributed to a miscommunication, but the Department of Children and Families is looking into what happened.
"It is not that we suspect that something is wrong, it is just that we are ensuring that our children are safe," Sly said.
Chadburn says his daughter is doing well, but that he is still a little shaken.
"I am still a nervous wreck today," he said. "I am just glad she is safe."
Kitchin says she is sorry for how the evening unfolded.
"I am very sorry that I did not look into it a little bit more, but I will learn my lesson now," she said.
A lesson that a phone call from one parent to another can go a long way.
We did reach out to the little girl's mom Friday to see how she was doing, but we had not yet heard back when this story was published. Rutland police expect the investigation into what happened to wrap up next week.
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