As of Tuesday afternoon, the massive search for a missing Magoffin County toddler was still underway near the Floyd/Magoffin County line.
The Kentucky State Police is now overseeing the investigation, Magoffin County Sheriff Carson Montgomery said on Tuesday.
Montgomery confirmed that 22-month-old Kenneth Howard went missing at about 7:30 p.m. on Mother’s Day from his home on Kenneth Combs Road, located just off Ky. 7 about one-half mile away from the Floyd County line.
Montgomery said his initial investigation revealed that the child went missing while he was playing in the yard of the home, which is located near a woody hillside that he described as being overgrown with steep cliffs and inclines.
“The father said he (the child) was in the yard and he was on the porch and he came around to the back of the house and he never did come back,” Montgomery said. “He thinks within five minutes, he went and he was gone. He was just playing in the yard.”
Montgomery continued, “The way I understand it, he’s real active, you know, and I guess he give him five minutes or so, that’s what he thought, and he went around there to look for him and he never came back. Nobody’s seen him since.”
The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and its K9 unit, the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad and several Floyd County fire departments joined Magoffin County agencies, the Kentucky State Police and others in the search, which started Sunday evening. Montgomery said the search was suspended at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday, and teams returned to the area to start searching again at about 11 a.m. The search has included several K9 search teams, drones, helicopters and numerous emergency personnel. It was suspended Monday evening, Montgomery reported, but up to 50 volunteers continued searching through the night. It resumed again on Tuesday, with assistance from hounds provided from Estill County and searchers from numerous agencies.
Montgomery said fire departments pumped out two open wells, one of which is on the family’s property and one of which that is nearby.
“We pumped those, but nothing,” he said.
He does not suspect foul play at this time.
“We don’t have any evidence of anything right now, I mean, except he’s gone. We don’t know yet,” he said. “We’re just going to keep looking and see what we come up with.”
Montgomery said the child’s father is devastated.
“The kid’s father is what you might call a walking dead man. He can’t sit down. He can’t sleep,” Montgomery said. He said the child’s mother has stayed in the home with family members during most of this search.
Montgomery expressed thanks for members of the public who have helped with the search.
“There are so many people up there that walked those hills. They walked the road. They’ve been in every culvert, creek, and that place is rough up there. It’s hard to get to on those hills,” he said.
He said the family’s property adjoins a strip mine on the Floyd/Magoffin County line. Searchers have searched all areas in a radius of more than one-half mile around the property several times, he said, as well as portions of the strip mine. He said Tuesday that the search will continue in that area.
“The immediate area, has been gone over and over,” he said. “But there’s always a chance we’ve missed something, so we’re going to go back.”
He asks the public to pray for this child and to report any information they may have about the case to the police.
Local residents can report any information they have by calling 911.