Deputies ask riverside residents in Stearns County to check for signs of missing girl

Police released this photo of Elle Ragin and her mother Lisa Wade as their search for the young girl continues in Northfield. (Northfield PD / Supplied)

As the search for a missing six-year-old girl in Northfield, Minnesota enters its fifth day, sheriff's deputies in Stearns County are asking people who live along the Mississippi River to check their property for signs of the missing child.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office is asking residents who live along the river between the Mississippi River County Park and the Sartell Dam to check their property for items belonging to six-year-old Elle Ragin and her mother Lisa Wade.

Law enforcement officers have been searching since Saturday for Elle after her mother was found dead Saturday morning of an apparent suicide at their home in Northfield. During their investigation, Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott says police determined that on June 19, Wade had driven from her home in Northfield to the Mississippi River County Park near RIce. On that same day, Wade's cell phone shut off and never turned back on.

Police say, two days later, Wade came in contact with a deputy at the park. She was alone and told the deputy she lost her phone and keys while hiking and was locked out of her car. The deputy, not suspecting anything was wrong, helped her get a tow to a garage for a new key.

In the following week, officers say Wade made "distraught" phone calls to family members before police found her body on July 2, after responding for a welfare check requested by Wade's family.

In recent days, Stearns County deputies say more than 100 volunteers, along with K-9 units, water patrol, and the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter have searched the river park. As of Wednesday, Elle remains unaccounted for.

Tuesday, Chief Elliott said there were growing fears that Elle might never be found. The Stearns County Sheriff's Office says they will continue to monitor the river in the coming days. Anyone with information on the case can call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240 or the Northfield Police Department at 507-663-9302.