Local

Missing children case draws national attention

The case of the Columbus father who disappeared with his three small children the night of March 4 is receiving national media attention since the FBI listed the case on its Web site Monday.

Meanwhile, the FBI is checking out two more recent Amber Alert calls that Eddie Harrington and his children or Harrington's dark green 2002 Chevrolet Impala were seen in Indiana and New York.

"Good Morning America" featured a news report on the missing family members around 7:15 a.m. Friday. The ABC News Web site also features a story with pictures about the case.

"We're very hopeful about the Indiana call," said Columbus Police Lt. Mark Starling.

Each day that passes without finding the children increases the concern that Harrington, 27, of 4625 Gardiner Drive, might have carried out his warning left in a note that he didn't want to go on living. The note was found on a bedroom dresser about 1 a.m. March 5 by his girlfriend and the mother of the children, Agena Battle, who then alerted police. Authorities say he has previously attempted suicide.

The children include a three-year old son and twin girls ages 23 months.

Thursday, Columbus Police and a fire and rescue team from Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services spent the day searching the Chattahoochee River and Lake Oliver in an attempt to rule out that the car might be in the river or the lake, Starling said.

"We had 5-10 people involved," he said. "We started at Rotary Park about 9:30 a.m. and addressed the boat ramps with access to the river. We went to a boat ramp behind the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. We went to an access to Bibb Pond at 19th Street and First Avenue behind an old mill, close to 23rd Street and First Avenue, on the Riverwalk."

He said they also checked a landing south of the J.R. Allen Parkway in Alabama with an access on the Riverwalk, then moved to Oliver Marina and Lake Oliver, concluding the search about 4:30 p.m. Starling said they found no trace of the car.

"We've done about all we can do locally," Starling said.

The search was intensified this week when Columbus Police and the FBI held a joint press conference with Agena Battle, urging people to look out for the car, Harrington and the children and report any sighting to local police or the FBI. Authorities say they hope Harrington will drop the children off at a fire department.

The mother, almost in tears, said she just wants her children back home where they belong.

Harrington left with the children in the green Impala bearing an Indiana license plate numbered 93-L4740. The windshield reportedly is cracked. Columbus police issued a Levi Call, Georgia's version of an Amber Alert for missing children. Then Tennessee authorities issued an Amber Alert after police in Jackson, Tenn., were notified Harrington and the children were spotted at a Jackson motel and then traveled north. Reports of sightings came in last week from several Tennessee cities. Harrington has family in Jacksonville, Fla., Indianapolis, Chicago and in Tennessee, authorities said.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts or who spots them or the car is asked to notify local police or the sheriff's office; the FBI at 404-679-9000; or Columbus Police at 706-653-3400.

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