Missing girl, 9, found safe

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:19 AM

Corissa Lacourse thought she had done what she was supposed to when she poked her head into her mother’s bedroom Friday morning and asked if she could visit one of her friends. When Melissa Lacourse mumbled, “Um hmm,” Corissa went ahead with her plans.

The girl grabbed her snow clothes and headed off sometime between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.

But Melissa, who works third shift, said she had fallen back asleep after her children arrived home that morning after spending the night at their father’s house. She never remembered her child coming into the room.

“I woke up around 11:30,” Melissa said. “I saw her coat and boots missing, and thought she was out playing in the snow. That’s why I wasn’t so concerned in the beginning.”

Melissa said that changed when her youngest daughter didn’t show up for lunch. So she sent her oldest daughter to look for Corissa at a friend’s house.

When the child still wasn’t found, Melissa started checking the homes of some of her daughter’s other friends, then went looking at all of the area parks.

“I was nervous, scared,” she said. “There’s quite a few sex offenders in this area.”

That’s when she called the police.

“We got the call about 3:40 p.m. of a missing 9-year-old female from the 200 block of South Griffin Street,” said Sgt. Clint Holt of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety. “The last time they saw her was roughly around 9 a.m.”

There was no rush of activity in the home Friday morning because school was canceled, so everyone either went back to sleep or into their rooms, Melissa said.

Corissa said she wanted to tell her friend about something she did on the computer, but couldn’t remember her friend’s telephone number. So, after alerting her mother, she walked over to her friend’s house. Corissa said her friend was playing video games, so she started playing them, too.

“I lost track of time,” she said.

Police mobilized a search team and called in a K-9 unit from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. Neighbors and friends were called in, given pictures of Corissa and sent door-to-door to see if anyone had seen the child.

“I was very shocked at how many people were getting involved,” said Melissa’s friend, Nancy Kucks. “She called me after the police. She was like, ‘Can you go look for my daughter? They won’t let me go.’”

Kucks said she took some pictures and started going to the neighbors’ houses. The neighbors offered to help search, she said.

Holt said a lot of people were helping to search and others were making telephone calls.

“We made contact with the schools, trying to track down her classmates,” Holt said. “Through numerous phone calls to kids’ parents, we tracked her down at a friend’s house in the 900 block of Washington.”

The girl was found just before an Amber Alert was set to go out.

“We were very relieved to find her safe,” Holt said.

Police stayed in the home with the family during the search, conducting interviews to see if they could come up with information that might help them find the girl, Holt said.

“All those concerns go through your mind,” he said. “Did she run away or was she abducted?”

Holt said the parents agreed that there were no problems.

“It was just a lack of communication between child and parent,” he said.

Melissa said she was very emotional when she saw her daughter return home in a police car.

“That’s a scary thing — knowing that your daughter is missing,” she said.

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