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Water search begins for missing child

By Kathy Jefcoats

A two-day land search was called off Monday as officers began the exploration of a nearby county reservoir for signs of a missing 4-year-old Stockbridge boy reportedly last seen at 2 a.m. Sunday.

David Tippin, son of Robert and Stacy Tippin of 1368 Holly St., was not in his bed when the family awoke for church Sunday morning, said Henry police Lt. Ken Turner. Given daytime temperatures topping 90 degrees with humidity making it seem hotter, Turner said the child's safety is a big concern.

"We're very, very concerned about his health at this time," he said. "It's been well over 24 hours with no food or water and he's scarcely clothed. The fact he could be dehydrated is a very big concern."

Reports circulated Monday that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation performed polygraphs on the couple but Turner would not confirm nor deny those reports. It would not be uncommon to perform such tests on relatives closest to a missing child to rule out foul play. The parents have been interviewed extensively by detectives.

Henry police Lt. Stoney Mathis said upward of 100 volunteers assisted law enforcement officers and firefighters on horseback and four-wheelers in an uneventful search for the child, wrongly reported as being slightly autistic.

"We're searching areas now that we searched Sunday," said Mathis. "We've narrowed down the search area based on how far he could have gotten, with fences and other boundaries. The next focus is on the water team."

Mathis said officers in kayaks searched the reservoir water line Monday as six officers on four-wheelers rode the wood line.

"We've had no sign of the child at all," he said.

The command post at Henry Fire Department Station 3 on Ga. Highway 42 was manned by officers and members of the ACTS Church of Henry County, who coordinated the delivery of food and water for searchers. The Tippins are members of ACTS.

The response from local merchants has been "great," said church organizers. Donations of food and water have come in from Wal-Mart, Blimpies, Dunkin Donuts, Mrs. Winners, Kroger, Publix, Pizza Hut, Food Depot, Howell's Grocery, Kickin Chicken, KFC, Office Depot and UPS.

Darrin Moosa from Austell and Bill Bailey from Ola showed up at the fire station to volunteer to search Monday afternoon. Both are fathers to two children.

"I heard about it on the news and came out," said Moosa. "I mean, it's a child out there missing."

Bailey said the fire station should have been crowded with volunteers.

"It's the right thing to do," he said. "Too bad we don't have 30,000 people out looking."

David Tippin has brown eyes and hair, is 3 feet 6 inches tall and was last seen wearing an electric blue "Finding Nemo" shirt and gray shorts. Turner said the family did not find shoes missing so it is assumed the child is barefoot.