Tonganoxie police said Monday that three sisters missing from a foster home for 51 days may be in danger, and they are asking for help finding a “person of interest.”
The girls, all under the age of 16, were seen Saturday in the Kansas City area with a man police identified as Rigoberto “Rico” Reyes Rangel, 48.
“If they are with Rico, we believe they are in danger,” the police statement said.
The three girls — Emily, 15, Aimee, 14, and Christin Utter, 12 — disappeared from their foster home Aug. 26. Their foster parents, Debbie and Terry Miller, issued an urgent plea for the girls to return home and for the community’s help finding them.
“The girls are in a bad place,” Terry Miller told The Star on Monday. “It’s very dangerous for them. My girls could get hurt.”
Miller said he had hired a private investigator to help in the search, and that social media posts led a woman to contact Miller on Saturday. The woman said she thought the girls were with Rangel.
The woman is the wife of a man who has a roofing business, and Rangel was working for him and staying in their basement. Three girls who matched the descriptions in news accounts were with him, the woman said.
Rangel, Miller said, knows the girls because he was a neighbor of theirs at a previous residence.
The woman told Miller and police that she kicked them out and she last saw them on Saturday afternoon on 31st Street in Kansas City, heading toward Van Brunt Boulevard.
Kimberly Nicole Childers, who said she is the girls’ stepmother, posted a cry for help on Facebook.
“Please if anyone has any information at all on my step daughters please call the police,” she said. “They are in danger now. This is extremely urgent that anyone that knows anything step up please!!”
Kansas Department of Corrections records show Rangel was convicted of a drug charge in 2009 in Coffey County and was convicted for driving under the influence in 1998 in Johnson County.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families was asked about the missing girls during a child welfare task force meeting in Topeka last week. During that Oct. 10 meeting, it was revealed that more than 70 youths were missing from the state’s foster care system.
Theresa Freed, a department spokeswoman, said Monday afternoon that the agency could not comment on the case.
Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat, has been a critic of the department.
“It also just proved that there’s reason for alarm for missing children,” he said after being told about the update in the Tonganoxie case. “It certainly puts the kids in danger, and somebody ought to be looking out for them.”