FARMINGTON – What started as a search for a 13-year-old autistic girl missing from a rodeo grounds in Kirtland has turned into an FBI manhunt for a kidnapping suspect.
The FBI on Wednesday issued a news release seeking the man who allegedly abducted Kaylani Benallie on Tuesday night.
He is described as a Native American man in his 30s or 40s who is about 6 feet tall with short brown hair and no facial hair, according to the release.
The man was last seen around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Broken Horn Arena/RV Park in Kirtland, where Benallie was last seen walking to a restroom. He may be driving a dark-colored, four-door pickup truck with a “4×4” emblem, bed cover and silver rims.
The girl was found at a trading post in Red Valley, Arizona, about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the FBI.
San Juan County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristi Hughes told The Daily Times that Benallie was found with minor injuries and has been released to her family.
“Law enforcement is actively searching for this suspect, but we need the public’s help to bring this perpetrator to justice,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda said in the release.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 505-889-1300 or file an online report at tips.fbi.gov.
The Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety is also assisting in the investigation.
New Mexico State Police issued a Brittany Alert for Benallie at 10:52 p.m. Tuesday on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office.
The Daily Times asked State Police why the emergency alert system was not used for the Brittany Alert, like the emergency messages pushed to cellphones when an Amber Alert is issued.
A State Police spokesperson said law enforcement agencies investigate every missing, endangered person case as if it’s an Amber Alert but are not allowed by federal guidelines to issue an emergency alert to cellphones for a Brittany Alert.