BROOKFIELD — The search for a missing 12-year-old girl broadened Friday as the FBI joined in and police investigators turned to officials at MySpace.com, the online social networking site through which she had been communicating with an unknown person before her disappearance. A day after her disappearance triggered Vermont’s first Amber Alert, investigators focused on someone Brooke Bennett might have met online, the head of the Vermont State Police said. “This case is about a MySpace visitation,” Col. James Baker said. “Our focus is on the communications Brooke may have had via that media.”
Police believe Brooke was not planning to meet a friend and that she might have been going to meet someone she’d been communicating with online. Video from an interior surveillance camera at the store — released Friday — showed the girl and her uncle walk into the store and then leave, each going in separate directions, with Brooke walking away by herself.
She was seen about 45 minutes later inside the Randolph Village Laundromat, police said.
Friday, state police dive teams searched Sunset Lake, near where items belonging to Brooke were found Thursday by a family member. Baker said the divers found nothing.
During the day Friday, the FBI brought in agents from New England and experts in behavioral science from Quantico, Va.
A major focus of the investigation was centered on her online activities.
“As we all know, warnings have gone out countless times, in this world that we live in today, there are folks that visit places, social networking spaces such as MySpace, whose intentions are not good. And they come from far away,” Baker said.
Baker said the Amber Alert wasn’t issued sooner because investigators had to determine whethe her disappearance met the criteria for one. Officials didn’t decide to issue the alert until they knew the MySpace activity could be related to it, he said.
Baker said MySpace officials — who posted the Amber Alert on their Web site — were being helpful.
“MySpace takes the safety of our users very seriously,” its chief security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, said in a statement released by the company. “We are assisting the Vermont State Police Department and cannot comment any further as it is an ongoing investigation.”