Search for missing child transitions into recovery effort

February 7, 2019

PENNINGTON COUNTY — The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office has made the decision to transition the search for missing 9-year-old Serenity Dennard from a rescue to a recovery operation. If Dennard was outside, it’s unlikely she survived. Officials have not ruled out the possibility that she found some place warm to shelter or that someone picked her up. The case is still an active investigation and law enforcement will follow up on all leads.

Dennard rescue has been the top priority of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office since she went missing Sunday from the Black Hills Children’s Home. Sheriff’s Office personnel will remain in the area, but the recovery efforts will be scaled back until crews with specialized canines from Eastern South Dakota and Colorado arrive. These resources have been ordered, but their arrival date has not been confirmed.

In the last three days, more than 200 personnel and six canines have been assigned to the search of Serenity. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Pennington County Search and Rescue, Pennington County Fire, South Dakota Highway Patrol, South Dakota Wildland Fire, Mount Rushmore National Park, North Haines Volunteer Fire Department, Ellsworth Air Force Base Fire Department, Silver City Volunteer Fire Department, New Underwood Volunteer Fire Department, Box Elder Police Department, Box Elder Volunteer Fire Department, Black Hawk Volunteer Fire Department, Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, Rochford Volunteer Fire Department, Fairburn Volunteer Fire Department, Custer County Search and Rescue, Rapid City Police Department, Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department, Whispering Pines Volunteer Fire Department, Bear Paw Dog Team, Battle Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Rapid City Fire Department, Rapid Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Doty Volunteer Fire Department, Summerset Police Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Meade County Sheriff, Hill City Volunteer Fire Department, and Civil Air Patrol have scoured the area. Searchers have used hand-held thermal imaging devices, distributed flyers, canvassed all neighbors and interviewed more than 60 people to try to find Dennard.

Dennard is described as a Caucasian female, 4 feet, 7 inches, 90 pounds, with blue eyes and shoulder length dark blonde hair. She was last seen wearing only a long sleeved grey shirt with flowers, blue jeans and snow boots. She had no coat at the time she left the Black Hills Children’s Home on Sunday.

The investigation into Dennard’s disappearance has determined that she was last seen on South Rockerville Road walking north-bound near the Black Hills Children’s Home at 11 a.m. Sunday.

If anyone has seen or had contact with Serenity, do not communicate that information via social media. Please contact the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office at (605) 394-6115.

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