UPDATE: Searching and praying

DAYTON – In the search for the missing Kathlynn Shepard, people from all over the area were doing whatever they could.

Stacey Knight, from Ogden, was told there were enough volunteer searchers. Instead she brought up supplies, and helped distribute food and water for volunteers at the Dayton Rescue Squad building.

“I brought an ATV and food and myself. And also prayer,” she said, as she walked to the Emanuel Lutheran Church, which opened its doors all day for people to come in, pray, and get support.

Knight didn’t know either of the abducted girls, but she has two children of her own, 14 and 5 years old.

“I told the 14-year-old – I reminded her to never get in anyone’s vehicle,” she said.

Robin Bintz organized the prayer meeting, and spread the word on Facebook.

“The Lord just laid it on my heart, I was praying at home but I felt we should come together,” Bintz said. “God’s word says that when two or more are gathered together in his name, God is there with them. We can also offer support and encouragement.”

“I have children and grandchildren living in town,” she said. “It hits close to home knowing my grandkids were outside playing at the time.”

Heidi Engman visited the church to pray.

“The whole community is praying for her and hoping for the best,” Engman said. “We were up all night praying. My daughter goes to school with her.”

“I just hope they find her,” she added. “My heart hurts for her family.”

The Rev. Arhiana Shek said people had been coming in and out praying.

“If a group comes in, I can lead a small service. It’s a small community, and people care about each other,” she said.

Clayton Bills was out early Tuesday morning, searching on horseback.

Out there in the dark, “your mind plays a lot of games with you,” Bills said. “You think you see something, and you’re just hoping for the best.”

At the Southeast Webster Grand High School in Burnside, where both girls attended school, the hallways were very quiet, said guidance counselor Jenny Eckert.

“The students are walking around in more of a state of shock,” Eckert said. “I think we’re all in the ‘Is this really happening to us?’ phase.”

Superintendent Launi Dane said the school was keeping to its normal schedule as much as possible. They held a staff meeting with all the information they had, and extra counselors were available in all three schools for students who needed them.

“We had the high school counselor from Ogden here this morning,” Eckert said. “There were counselors here from the Domestic/Sexual Assult Outreach Center here, and counselors from other high schools were on standby.”

Mostly, Eckert said students had questions about what had really happened, and Eckert had to explain what was known to put to rest any rumors.

“Some of them were confused about what was going on,” she said. “We talk about the facts we know that have been confirmed. Reiterating that our small towns are safe, and this was one act of evil, that doesn’t mean that evil is lurking around every corner in our community.”

“They’re both very nice girls,” she said.

Eckert said she is proud of the 12-year-old who walked barefoot for miles after escaping.

“I’m proud of her for being very brave. Not knowing where she’s at, or where to go, and just running for her life to get help for Kathlynn,” she said. “I can’t fathom what she’s going through.”

“I think hanging here in limbo is the hardest part,” she added. “Not knowing what to do, not knowing what to prepare for. It’s heart-wrenching.

“After Sandy Hook, you heard teachers talking about ‘these are our kids.’ We feel the same way here. These are very much our kids.

“I’m remaining optimistic that this will have a positive outcome.”