Authorities are searching a portion of the Mississippi River and a surrounding park for a missing 6-year-old Northfield girl who has not been seen for weeks.
Northfield police believe Elle Ragin's mother, Lisa Wade, 39, who died by suicide on Saturday, drove from her Northfield home to Mississippi River Park in Stearns County, outside Rice, Minn., on June 21, according to a news release. In a recent search of the area, authorities found Elle's cellphone on land and also Wade's cellphone and purse containing her driver's license and vehicle key fob in the river.
The search of the park and river continues, and that portion of the river is closed to the public.
Police were able to trace Wade's presence at the park from cellphone records. At about 3 p.m. that day, her cellphone shut off in the area and has not been turned on since.
Authorities believe Wade may have been involved in the disappearance of her daughter before she died. Police say Elle was last seen June 19. Four days later her mother, while in the park and appearing to be alone, told a Stearns County deputy she lost her phone and car keys while hiking and needed help. The deputy assisted in arranging for her vehicle to be towed to a dealership to get a new key made.
Wade also made contact with family members during the week of June 25 and seemed distraught, according to the release. Investigators have located video footage of Wade between June 23 and July 2, but not her daughter.
Police are waiting on an autopsy report on Wade, lab analysis of the items found at the park, evidence from the home and an analysis of Wade's vehicle.
Elle is about 3-foot-6 with brown hair and brown eyes. She is a student at Prairie Creek Community School, according to the school district.
Authorities have followed up on hundreds of leads in the case and have searched the Mississippi park with teams of public safety officers, canines, drones, dive teams, boats and underwater search drones.
The FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) are assisting with the investigation.
Anyone who has seen either the mother or child in the past two weeks is asked to call Northfield police at 507-645-4477, or 911.
If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text MN to 741741 to be connected with the 24/7 Crisis Text Line.