It's not the first time 12-year-old Melissa Ruskin and her 11-year-old sister Vera disappeared from their Belpre home. In the past, however, they were found rather quickly. This time, they were missing in the middle of the night, when their parents went to check on them.
"They were first detected going through some yards in the Belrock Avenue area," Belpre Police Chief Ira Walker explains. "The officers ran into them, and picked them at Belrock Avenue and Patricia Street."
The search for the two children never really went beyond the confines of Belpre city, but it did include a search of the Ohio River, an air search and a search involving police dogs.
Washington County contributed its helicopter to the morning-long effort, but for a small police department such as Belpre's, a search like this can use up a lot of resources.
"We're limited to the officers coming in from where they live," Chief Walker says. "It takes time for notification, and, of course, time is one of our worst enemies. It puts a good strain on us, not only manpower-wise but budget-wise."
An Amber Alert was not issued because the two girls were not believed to have been abducted. The Ruskin sisters are currently in the care of Washington County Children’s Services.