Missing Region 8 Children Found

November 22, 2004 – Posted at 3:05 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- Two young Independence County children are home safe and sound tonight after being reported missing early yesterday evening.

Robert Hendricks,10, and Jessica Garcia, 9, were reunited with loved ones early Monday afternoon after spending a long, cold night in the woods in an area about twelve miles south of Batesville.

Hendricks and Garcia suffered only minor cuts and bruises, but overall are doing well.  The search for the two young children began Sunday afternoon just before darkness fell, when the children wondered off. Their guardians couldn't find the two searching by themselves, and that's when they called Independence County authorities.

"When they started, the dog handlers said we had good conditions," said Bill Hicks of the Office of Emergency Services, "We had a fog that was holding the scent, and it just deteriorated to the point we couldn't do anything with them. At that point we went into our ground searches with probably 50 to 55 people in here last night."

Searchers combed the thick wooded area, battling a dense fog and chilling mist, looking for the missing children. The search and rescue teams pour over a detailed map of the area, making a vow to find the missing children.

"We got a road here, and road here, and a four wheeler trail. That is their boundary, and I guess they just stepped over the boundary this time," said the children's uncle Steve Clark.

Over 2,000 kids are reported missing every day and but Clark and his wife were lucky, soon hearing the sweet sound of the children returning home.

Hendricks and Garcia say they walked up and down a dirt road knocking on doors, hoping to find anyone to offer shelter and safety. And about 12 p.m. Monday afternoon, they did find comfort at the end of the dirt road.

"They come to our door, cold and dirty, and scared to death. I grabbed them, and all I had to feed them was a bologna sandwich but they was sure proud to get that," said neighbor Ann Dickinson.

The two said they spent the whole night just walking through the woods, and holding on to each other.

"It was pretty scary," said Garcia.

"We had to get over that big field over there. We was in our yard, and ended up in someone else's yard," said Hendricks.

But the family says they are just happy to be back together.

"I missed them, and I love them. They stuck by each other, and I am so proud of them…I love them," said Clark.