Iowa girl, 5, VANISHES after being ‘kidnapped’ by her mother three months ago – as cops say they ‘honestly have no idea’ where she is and heartbroken dad pleads for her return

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Avery Lydia Doherty has allegedly been ‘kidnapped’ by her non-custodial mother, Esther Bender in October 2023
  • Police have said they have no idea she is and have been trying to follow leads for three months
  • This week, the FBI announced it was joining the search and Avery is now added to the national database for missing children  

Iowa police have yet not been able to locate a five-year-old girl who has allegedly been ‘kidnapped’ by her non-custodial mother. 

Avery Lydia Doherty was reported missing to the Story County Sheriff’s Office in October 2023.

Officials believe the child was taken by her mother, Esther Bender, who does not have legal custody of the child. 

An Amber Alert was not issued when she disappeared as there was no vehicle description.

Avery Lydia Doherty was reported missing to the Story County Sheriff’s Office in October 2023

Both parents were going through a lengthy custody battle and court documents show Brandon was petitioning for visitation rights

Both parents were going through a lengthy custody battle and court documents show Brandon was petitioning for visitation rights

It is unclear who had custody of the child in the meantime

It is unclear who had custody of the child in the meantime

According to KCCI, father Brandon Doherty and Bender were going through a lengthy custody battle and court documents show Brandon was petitioning for visitation rights. 

It is unclear who had custody of the child in the meantime. 

After three months of no news, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they were joining the search for the toddler this week. 

Brandon also told the channel: ‘At first, I even told officers “no way, I don’t see her doing that” but like the more we go on. I’m starting to get some real dark thoughts. 

‘I sit in my daughter’s room a lot and I talk to her. I pray a lot. 

‘Walk from my dart board through my house into my room where I have a mirror and it’s just back and forth pace 

‘I just constantly ask God to give her a hug for me. I want to squeeze her so bad.’ 

Ames Police Public Information Officer Sergent Amber Christian said they 'honestly have no idea' where the mother and daughter are

Ames Police Public Information Officer Sergent Amber Christian said they ‘honestly have no idea’ where the mother and daughter are

Brandon said: 'I just constantly ask God to give her a hug for me. I want to squeeze her so bad'

Brandon said: ‘I just constantly ask God to give her a hug for me. I want to squeeze her so bad’

Ames Police Public Information Officer Sergent Amber Christian told KCCI that the department continues to follow up on leads but they ‘honestly have no idea’ where the mother and daughter are. 

‘We honestly have no idea. Everywhere we have turned, everywhere we have looked into has not come up with any solutions. And so again, we do have a detective following up on anything that comes in. At this point, we don’t know where they are

‘At this point, we would just like Esther to let us know that Avery is OK, and by doing that, she needs to come forward and let us see Avery and have a conversation,’ Christian said on January 2.

The investigation is ongoing and Avery has now been added to the national database for missing children. 

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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