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Missing children spotted

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August 22, 2002

Relief in Coffee County Thursday, as for the first time since Monday seven year old Calvin McKenzie and his six year old sister Chanel are spotted.

"All along we thought it was a family abduction, which doesn't make us feel any better, but we're just tickled to death the children are safe and with their parent," Wendell Stone, the Westside Principal said.

An eyewitness in Ohio saw the children with their custodial mother, but local authorities are slow to celebrate. They are still waiting for investigators to track down the children.

The whole thing started Monday when the children didn't make it to their homeroom after riding the bus to Westside Elementary.

A key part of the investigation is the camera on the bus, which showed the McKenzies were on board and later caught a glimpse of them walking hand in hand with a female.

"You take every precaution to avoid this kind of situation but sometimes things like this happen," Superintendent Ree Zeigler said.

School official saying with so many parents escorting their children to school in just the second week of classes, security measures were more difficult to enforce, but all along confident that if a stranger had taken the children, someone would have stopped them.

"We train personal to look out for people who are unfamiliar and alert someone immediately," Zeigler said. "If anything it will cause us to take a look at ourselves and how we can be more observant"

So they never have to go through another week like this one, filled with uncertainty.

The McKenzies have been living with their father and enrolled at Westside since Spring semester. But authorities say it's the mother who has custody, so she would likely not be charged in this case if she indeed did take the children from the school.

posted at 5:55 pm by dave.d'marko@walb.com