Massive Search for California Sisters Missing in ‘Steep, Heavily Wooded Terrain’

March 3, 2019 Updated: March 3, 2019

California authorities have launched a massive search for two sisters aged 8 and 5 who went missing on March 1 from their home.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a news release that 5-year-old Caroline Carrico and 8-year-old Leia Carrico were last seen at 2:30 p.m. on Friday outside of their home in Benbow, located about 70 miles south of Eureka in the northwest part of California.

“The girls are believed to have walked off into the wooded area,” the HCSO said Saturday, adding, “Crews continue to search today, March 2, for the two girls.”

“The search area consists of steep, heavily wooded terrain,” the sheriff’s office added.

missing california girls
The two little girls are believed to have walked away from their home in Benbow, Calif., on March 1, 2019. (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office)

Police described Caroline Carrico as “a white female, 3 feet 6 inches tall, 40 pounds, with hazel eyes and blonde hair with bright purple streaks. She was last seen wearing a maroon rain jacket with white horses, blue jeans, and pink boots.”

Leia Carrico was described as “a white female, 4 feet 2 inches tall, 85 pounds, with hazel eyes and blonde hair, with a large freckle on her left cheek. She was last seen wearing a dark gray hooded long sleeve shirt and purple rain boots.”

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said at a news conference on Saturday, the girls had asked their mother to go for a walk in the afternoon and the mother did not give them permission. Honsal said the mother was taking care of household tasks when at around 3 p.m. she realized that her daughters were missing.

He said the mother contacted the HCSO around 6 p.m. Friday after a search by friends and family turned up no sign of the girls. He said Sheriff’s Special Services deputies, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, and CAL FIRE crews were among those to conduct an initial search of the area, continuing through the night.

Do Not ‘Self-Deploy’

The sheriff appealed to the public not to “self-deploy in these rural areas” but instead contact one of the search teams to volunteer.

“We appreciate the overwhelming community support in the search for local missing girls Caroline and Leia Carrico,” the HCSO said in a tweet, “however we need community members to please stay clear of the search area.”

Honsal said uncoordinated, individual search efforts might hinder rescue efforts by interfering with tracks or throwing off the scent for search dogs.

The HCSO also announced in a tweet that the search area was closed to unauthorized aircraft including drones.

“Citizen drones are making it dangerous for our assisting helicopters to fly. Please do not operate a drone in the search area,” Honsal added.

Clues Found

Lt. Mike Fridley said at the press conference that some granola bar wrappers were found in the woods that matched the brand the girls’ mother said were in the house.

“So the wrappers showed us a direction from where they started to where the wrappers ended,” Fridley said.

Posted by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, 2 March 2019

Fridley said that some of the girls’ footprints were discovered in the woods, helping to guide the search.

“As the information comes in we react to it,” Fridley said. “It’s kind of like a chess game.”

“All available resources are being utilized by searching personnel,” the sheriff’s office said. “Through the collaborated efforts of all the involved agencies, we are working to resolve this incident as quickly and safely as possible.”

The sheriff said that there are no signs of foul play, and the family is being “fully cooperative.”

“We don’t know where these girls are. They could have made it to the highway, some stranger could have picked them up,” he said. “We don’t know. We’re looking at all the different contingencies that could be out there.”




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