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Police searching Rouge River area in case of missing Detroit teen Na'Ziyah Harris

'Unfortunately, as time goes on, it does start to look more like a recovery effort,' Chief White said.
Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 12, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Police and dive teams from Detroit, Michigan State Police, Oakland County and Monroe County, among other agencies, combed through a portion of the Rouge River Tuesday in connection to the disappearance of 13-year-old Na'Ziyah Harris.

The 13-year-old went missing on Jan. 9. Her grandmother, who is her legal guardian, says she never made it home after being dropped off at her bus stop nearby on Cornwall and 3 Mile Drive on the city's east side.

Last week, police began searching a pond in Clinton Township in connection to the case. On Monday, officers searched the Rouge River on the city's west side. They returned to a portion of the river near Greater Grace Temple on W. 7 Mile Tuesday morning.

Detroit Police Chief James White provided an update Tuesday on the search.

Watch the press conference from Detroit Police Chief James White below:

Large search party scouring Rouge River in Na'Ziyah Harris case

According to White, they are searching the area based on evidence they have identified, and there are several state and local partners assisting DPD with the search.

See video from the search today below:

Police search Rouge River for missing Detroit teen

White said that they have gotten a lot of tips and there is "something very specific about this area we want to take off our list, and that's why we're here today."

"Unfortunately, as time goes on, it does start to look more like a recovery effort," he added.

According to White, there are aspects of the case that have given police "serious concern."

"It’s not normal for a 13-year-old to be missing over two months. There is no sign of life. There is no social media communication. There are no friends who have heard from her, no family. It’s not normal," said Tamara Smith, who is the Detroit police commissioner for District 1.

Smith says she personally knows Na'Ziyah's father and has been handing out fliers to help find the young teenager.

“I have known her father all of my life. We’re childhood friends. He’s extremely concerned," Smith said. "(He's) like any father, any parent would be, just heartbroken from all of this.”

On Tuesday, Na'Ziyah's father, Murvin Jennings watched as officers combed the river. He told news crews his daughter is a "beautiful, beautiful child."

"I go out every day, we pass out the flyers, I read comments, I look at this, I look at that,” he said.

Jennings says not knowing what happened to his daughter has been extremely difficult, even exacerbating his congenital heart issues. He also said he believes there are people withholding information from police that could lead to her whereabouts.

"I was over (at her grandmother's home) spending the time that I could. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what happened. They won’t even talk to me, that side of the family now. Something is up," Jennings said.

Detroit police did not say what tips led them to the pond in Clinton Township or if anything was recovered. They also could not reveal what led them to the Rouge River.

There are still no suspects in custody at this time, however police say they have been talking to a multiple people they believe have information in the case. However, Chief White stopped short of calling them persons of interest.

See video from the search on Friday below:

Police search pond for Detroit teen missing since January

Authorities said after Na'Ziyah was last seen on Jan. 9, Detroit Public Schools Community District Department of Public Safety began the investigation. Detroit police say they took over the investigation a month later.

Investigators said they don’t think Na’Ziyah was abducted initially, but they won’t say if they think she willingly went off with someone.

“We’re going to exhaust everything geared toward bringing her home alive. And what we’re hopeful of is that she’s with one of her friends somewhere, maybe not even in the city of Detroit or in the state of Michigan," White said.

See our report from February below:

Search efforts continue for missing Detroit teen last seen in January