Bella Vista Dispatcher Awarded After Helping Find Missing Child

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BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- A Bella Vista dispatcher has been awarded "Civilian of the Year" after she helped crack the case of a missing 13-year-old girl from Chicago earlier this year.

On April 8, 2015, detectives with the Chicago Police Department asked Bella Vista for their help in locating a missing teen. Deputies searched the address given for the suspect, 40-year-old David Duffin, but nothing panned out.

Dispatcher Jamie Abbott said when she came into work the next morning, she did what she could to help.

"You knew it wasn't good if she was with an adult male that was 40 years old," Abbott said, "Then he had brought her all the way across so many state lines, you know he didn't have anything good in mind."

She said she checked several social media sites and was able to find Duffin's phone number. She said she then put out a BOLO on the missing girl and got other agencies involved. Three hours after Abbott began the search, the teen was found.

"Missing juveniles are kind of one of my favorite things to work," Abbott said. "There's a lot of details to them and it's really nice to know when you find the juvenile that you have made a difference, because a lot of time we don't know if we've made a difference or not."

Abbott said she got a call from a Chicago SVU detective the following day, thanking her for her perseverance. On Tuesday (Dec. 15), Abbott was honored by her own department.

"It was a nice feeling, because a lot times you end just down and depressed and you haven't dealt with anything good that day," Abbott said, "But this was good.  That was a good one."

Abbott has worked with Bella Vista for seven years. Previously she worked as a dispatcher in Benton County for 10 years.

A federal jury found Duffin guilty of transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. The trial was held in August of 2015. He has not yet been sentenced.

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