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Lunsford Arrested in Separate Case

Mother arraigned on charges unrelated to daughter’s disappearance

By John Clise – Special to The Inter-Mountain , The Inter-Mountain

Lena Lunsford - suspected felon.

In a matter not related to the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, Aliayah Lunsford, Lena Lunsford of Weston was taken into custody Monday afternoon by federal authorities on a felony charge of allowing another individual to use a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card, issued to her, in her name and with her personal identification number, to purchase approximately $114.82 in food in exchange for a $50 cash payment on or about Oct. 15.

This is a violation of Title 7, United States Code, Section 22024(b). She faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the count, if she is found guilty.

According to FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen, Lena Lunsford was taken into custody without incident and arraigned before federal Magistrate John Kaull in United States District Court in Clarksburg. She was released on her own recognizance, according to Killeen.

Killeen said the investigation into the alleged trading of cash for the use of the SNAP card and that of her missing daughter are two separate matters, and the investigation of both matters will continue as independent issues.

The matter of the alleged SNAP card abuse will proceed to the federal grand jury for action, according to Killeen.

In regards to the disappearance of Aliayah Lunsford, Killeen said the focus continues to narrow each day as investigators comb through video surveillance for more clues.

Killeen said video surveillance continues to be enhanced in an effort to find more evidence, though the investigators need to continue in a “methodical and correct” manner.

Aliayah Lunsford went missing from her family’s Dennison Street home, in the Bendale area of Weston on Sept. 24 between 6:30-9:30 a.m. Lena Lunsford reported her missing at approximately 11:30 a.m. after searching for the missing child in her vehicle.

According to Killeen, investigators are still working toward a positive outcome on the case, and they are still looking at “a small universe of individuals” regarding the disappearance.

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Bureau looking at surveillance tapes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has narrowed its search for missing 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford, and is currently reviewing a significant amount of video evidence from security systems in the South Weston area, investigators announced during a press conference Friday.

Special Agent Jeff Killeen said investigators have recovered video from civilian, governmental and business security systems. Killeen said he could not comment on what might be on the security tapes.

“We have an awful lot of this evidence to look at,” Killeen said. “It takes time to enhance the tapes.”

Killeen explained that investigators can use special technology to enhance images that may be fuzzy or may not be recognizable at first glance.

“If someone out there has home security video with anything that looks suspicious, please call the West Virginia State Police at 304-269-0500,” Killeen said.

Though he would offer no further comment, Killeen said law enforcement officials have narrowed the time line regarding the disappearance of Aliayah Lunsford.

“The focus is narrowing, and we are working to a favorable conclusion,” he said.

He added that the case is still being considered a homicide, abduction or concealment. Killeen declined to discuss persons of interest or suspects, saying it could compromise the investigation.

Killeen said that as the investigation has narrowed, they also have determined there is no threat of danger to other children in the community

“I want to dispel rumors we are not working on this case,” Killeen said. “At times, investigators are working 24 hours a day on this case.”

Specifically, Killeen said the dozens of people working on the case include law enforcement and personnel at the various crime labs representing the agencies on the case. He likened this work to put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

“We have many pieces together,” he said. “We are pleased with our progress.”

Aliayah Lunsford was last seen at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 by her mother, Lena Lunsford, who reported the child was suffering from a cold or flu. By 9:30 a.m., the girl was not in the home, her mother has told police.

Lena Lunsford called 911 to report her daughter missing at 11:20 a.m. after searching for her in her vehicle.

An intensive ground search was conducted by law enforcement and volunteers for two weeks before that effort was called off. Divers searched the West Fork River in effort to find the child.

Anyone with information or video surveillance evidence should call the state police.

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Officials remove children from missing girl’s home

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Resources removed the remaining children from the Lunsford home, doing so with making any comment as to why.

The Dennison Street home in Weston was the last place that 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford was seen more than a week ago.

It has also been reported Lena Lunsford, the mother of Aliayah Lunsford, has hired an attorney. The reason or circumstance as to why she may have employed legal counsel is unknown at this time.

Bad weather over the weekend hampered the search for Aliayah, now into its 10th day, according to officials. There were fewer searchers, and the rain and colder temperatures slowed progress.

The mission remains a rescue effort, according to Special Agent Jeff Killeen of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Law enforcement continued to investigate all avenues presented in the disappearance of Aliayah Lunsford, who vanished from her family’s home last Saturday morning.

Since Aliayah vanished, there has been an outpouring of community support from people willing to search to people bringing water, food and other supplies to be distributed from the Bendale United Methodist Church, which has served as a staging area for the search.

A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. today in the lower gravel parking lot at Lewis County High School.

Authorities are asking any with information about the matter to call the Lewis County 911 Center at 304-269-8241.

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FBI Joins Search for Missing West Virginia Girl

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Aliayah Lunsford Allegedly Last Seen

  • 2274 days, 18 hours, 0 minutes ago

About Aliayah Lunsford

Age 3, Aliayah Lunsford's mother claims that she last saw her daughter at home on September 24, 2011 around 6:30 a.m.

Aliayah has brown eyes and hair, is around 3 foot tall and weighs about 30lbs.

Last seen wearing purple Dora the Explorer pajama bottoms, pink princess sweatshirt and no shoes, Aliayah's ears are pierced and she is missing four (4) front teeth.

If you have any information on her whereabouts, call the Lewis County Sheriff's Department at 304-269-8245.

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