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$10,000 reward in search for 12-year-old Gainesville girl

The search continues for 12-year-old Maria Gomez-Perez of Gainesville. On Thursday, authorities released an updated photo of the young girl missing now for over a week.

As previously reported, Maria was last seen at her home on Westside Drive off Pearl Nix Parkway around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29. According to Hall County Sheriff’s Investigator Brad Parks, she was reported to authorities as missing on Thursday, May 30.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is leading the search for the young girl with a team of local, state, and federal investigators.

“Right now, we have a team of more than two dozen investigators dedicated to the safe return of Maria to her family,” the sheriff’s office says.

Several of those investigators met Wednesday night with community members. The meeting was held at the request of Hall County business leader Norma Hernandez. During the June 5 meeting, Major Parks sought to assure the community that the sheriff’s office has been actively working on the case since the day Maria was reported missing.

“What I would like the community to know is that as soon as the patrol deputies arrived on scene they contacted the investigative agency, and we rolled to the scene as well,” Parks told a packed audience at Hernandez’s office.

Hall County Sheriff's Major Brad Parks, second from left, addresses a packed crowd of community members concerned about Maria Gomez-Perez.Photo byNorma Hernandez/Facebook

Answering critics. Following up on leads

The sheriff’s office has been criticized for not issuing a Levi’s Call at the time of Maria’s disappearance. In defense, the agency issued a lengthy statement explaining the case did not meet the GBI’s protocol for issuing a statewide missing child alert.

“Many have made accusations that the Hall County Sheriff’s Office is doing minimal work in trying to find Maria. To the contrary, we have a team of investigators who have been, and are continuing to, diligently work this case,” the statement reads. “Our goal is to bring Maria home and ensure she is safe. We know the community wants that, too.”

Statewide media alerts have raised awareness of Maria’s case. The sheriff’s office says detectives have followed up on several unsuccessful leads.

“We continue to have a number of leads that have come in, and those processes are currently in motion to be investigated,” said Parks.

In an effort to ward off further criticism for lack of transparency, Parks explained, “I will not give out many details in respect to the investigation. I’m not being secretive; I want you to understand that the investigation has taken on many forms and we’re doing many things we can’t discuss. That’s not to keep information from you, it’s to ensure the integrity of the investigation.” He then urged the community, “If you have a tip or have a lead I would desperately ask you to forward that to the sheriff’s office.”

What you can do

Statewide media alerts have raised awareness of Maria’s disappearance and have kept the case front and center. Investigators ask the public to continue to be on the lookout for the 12-year-old.

Maria Gomez-Perez is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs between 100 and 110 pounds. She has brown eyes and long black hair.

Authorities say Maria is thought to have been wearing a bright blue shirt at the time she disappeared. No other clothing description is available.

If you know where Maria is or have information that could help find her, contact law enforcement by dialing 911 or 770-536-8812.

Anonymous tips may be made to the Hall County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit by calling 770-503-3232. Tips may also be emailed to intelrequest@hallcounty.org.

Parks says he plans to hold regularly scheduled meetings with the community on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. to deliver updates on the case. The sheriff’s office will inform the community of those meeting locations through social media.


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