A neighbor's surveillance camera caught a fleeting glimpse of a missing autistic child running up the street moments before her family reported her missing in Lake County on Sunday.
The finding Tuesday led authorities to refocus the search for Mikaela Lynch, 9, who was previously believed to have run toward the water, to areas north of the Harbor Lane home where she was last seen.
Despite the video clues, more than 100 search and rescue personnel had not yet found Mikaela by late Tuesday. At about 8 p.m. the search was again scaled-down for the night, to be continued with a full force of law enforcement, emergency staff and volunteers in the morning, Clearlake Police Lt. Tim Celli said.
"Unfortunately we're still actively searching for her," Celli said.
Mikaela was last seen Sunday while playing in the fenced backyard of a Harbor Lane home on a spit of land bordered by Cache Creek and inlets. Her family reported her missing at 1:30 p.m.
Searchers scoured water and land Tuesday as temperatures climbed into the 80s.
Volunteers handed out fliers and Clearlake police asked that people in the neighborhood search every inch "of their properties outbuildings, vehicles, crawl spaces, everywhere," Celli said.
He asked that people look in places that a child, particularly one with disabilities, might hide.
The video surveillance provided key clues for law enforcement, who suspect the child ran away, although abduction has not been ruled out, Celli said. On Tuesday, the search focused in the Harbor Highlands neighborhood and areas where they child might have traveled on foot.
"There's a limited mobility, she was barefoot," Celli said.
Police also are working with Team Adam, a program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, to enhance the images and gain more clues.
Celli said they're also working with federal and state agencies, and were coordinating more than 100 search and rescue personnel, several helicopter and air crews as well as boat crews.
Calls for volunteers, jet skis and other forms of help were broadcast on social networking sites. Fliers passed around with photos of the child described her as about 4-feet tall and 70 pounds.
Mikaela cannot speak and has the mental capability of a toddler, police said.
She was alone in the yard when she apparently wandered out, leaving her clothing behind. Police officials suspect if she is lost in the neighborhood, town or the nearby marshy Anderson Marsh State Park or rugged Cache Creek terrain she is naked and shoeless.
The girl also likes water, but apparently cannot swim, police said.
Search coordinators met at 7 a.m. Tuesday at a makeshift headquarters in the Harbor Highlands neighborhood where she was last seen.
The organized effort, with help from public safety officers and trained volunteers from four counties, was underway by 8 a.m.
"They're double checking, triple checking," all areas around the neighborhood, Clearlake Officer Michael Ray said Tuesday afternoon.
Dive teams have been working along the bottom of Cache Creek's murky water, feeling their way because of near-zero visibility.
Three boats from the Sonoma County sheriff's marine unit joined forces with agencies from across Northern California aiding Clearlake police.
"Our job so far today has been to do shoreline checks and redundant shoreline checks," Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Hoener said.