As more than 100 police officers fanned out Sunday looking for two young sisters missing since Friday, neighbor Dawn Allen rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
She put up fliers around the Lake Grove Village Apartment complex on the South Side to organize an 11 a.m. search party. "We are all parents," the fliers said. "We feel that pain. Come out as a community. Come out as a family. We have to protect our children."
Allen, 32, and a small group of volunteers then joined a massive police effort--going door-to-door, searching abandoned buildings, using police dogs to sniff parked cars, and scouring on foot the lakefront, nearby woods and railroad tracks that cut through the Oakland neighborhood.
For the second day, police also were in the air and on the water, using helicopters and the marine unit in an intense search for Tionda Bradley, 10, and Diamond Bradley, 3.
They disappeared Friday morning after their mother, Tracey Bradley, left them alone in their apartment when she went to work. Left behind was a note, thought to be in Tionda's handwriting, saying they were going to a nearby school or store.
Family members held out hope the children would be found safe, even though several believed there was no explanation for their disappearance other than that they were kidnapped.
"There is no way they ran away," said their great-aunt, Shelia Smith. "They never went far from home and were always very obedient. We feel positively sure they were taken."
Police said they have found no evidence the girls were abducted. And despite no new leads, police, too, held out hope.
"I'm very hopeful that we'll find these children alive and well," said Chicago Police Youth Investigations Cmdr. Roberta Bartik said. "We just want them back safe and sound."
Still, she added: "This is a long period of time for these children to be missing. We are concerned."
Covering all the bases, Bartik had messages for anyone who might have the children against their will, and for the children themselves.
"If someone has inadvertently kept Tionda and her sister, thinking they may have had parental permission, please do not be afraid to return them," Bartik said. "If she is afraid to come home because she stayed out with her sister, ... I would like her [Tionda] to know that nothing will happen to her. We'll be very glad to get her home."
Police said they have come up empty in interviews with the children's fathers, other relatives and friends. The family had no previous contacts with police or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, authorities said.
The girls were last seen around 6 a.m. Friday when Tracey Bradley went to work at a summer lunch program at Taylor Park, 47th and Federal Streets, said her mother, Mary Bradley.
Around 11 a.m., the girls were missing when Tracey Bradley returned home to the three-story apartment building in the Lake Grove Village Apartment complex at 3526 S. Lake Park Ave.
Contents of note
The note, which is being studied by police, said the two had gone to the school Tionda attended, Doolittle Elementary School, about two blocks away at 521 E. 35th Street, or to the Lake Meadows Shopping Center across the street from the school.
"We're not sure whether she went there to go into the school or play at the playground," Bartik said.