Search for missing girl continues

By Gray Hughes

Pennington County Sheriff's Office Submitted Image

Serenity Dennard, 9, went missing from the Black Hills Children’s Home on Feb. 3.

As of Tuesday, June 4, she had yet to be located. Crews searched for her most recently May 30 through June 2.

On May 30, 19 people from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Search and rescue looked for her aided by K-9 teams.

On June 2, the sheriff’s department posted on Facebook that they did not find Dennard. The search and the investigation will continue, they said.

Dennard went missing from the Black Hills Children’s Home around 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 3.

She is described as being 4’7”, 90 pounds with blue eyes and should length dirty blonde hair. She was last seen wearing a long-sleeved gray shirt with flowers, blue jeans and snow boots.

Snow and below-zero temperatures hindered initial searches.

Bill Colson, executive director of the Children’s Home Society, the parent organization of the Black Hills Children’s Home, will  retire at the end of the year, according to a Children’s Home Society press release.

Colson will remain in his role while a search for a replacement takes place.

Colson made his intentions to the board known in 2016, the release said.

Since Dennard went missing, the Black Hills Children’s Home and the Children’s Home Society have been under scrutiny.

In a report dated Feb.15 issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, the home staff “had not been trained on the provider’s December 1999 Lost Child On Campus (On Campus – During Daytime, Monday – Friday) policy nor the November 2004 Lost Child Off Campus (From Off-Campus) policy.”

The report went on to say that “In the beginning the search was not as organized as it could have been. That would have been the program director’s responsibility…it took staff 1.5 hours to contact 911, that should have been done when staff first lost sight of her.”

A similar report issued by Department of Social Services Program Specialist Kevin Kanta stated, “based on the behaviors of the child, identified Black Hills Children Home staff did not provide the level of supervision required to ensure the safety of the child.”

Reporter Leslie Silverman contributed to this report.