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Missing 97-Year-Old Neighbor Found Safe By Fifth-Grade Sleuths

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Being a good neighbor means different things to different people, but usually involves helping out when asked. When the Roseville, California police needed help, four preteens made their neighbor’s plight their number-one priority, to very happy results. Recently, Gelenneta Belford, a 97-year-old Quail Glen/Blue Oaks community member with dementia, went missing. Her family called law enforcement. Roseville officers sent out a missing persons alert through local media and by foot, car, and helicopter patrol, using alarms accompanied by a broadcast message. 

One of the loud helicopter announcements found four friends playing outside: Hope Claiborne, Makenna Rogers, Logan Hultman, and Kashton Claiborne. It took only minutes for the four to spring into action, leaping onto their bikes and combing the area for Belford who, police advised, liked to hunker down in one place and might even have been hiding. After hours of searching high and low — with emergency medical attention for a scraped knee and a dinner break in between — the young team spotted Belford walking along a sidewalk. They confirmed her identity via a circulated photo before calling the authorities and waited with her until officers arrived. 

Mission: Possible

After Belford was reunited with her family, Roseville PD posted an update to their Facebook page, celebrating the closed case and the kiddo PIs who helped make it possible. The post, which has over 3,000 likes and 200 comments from Roseville residents, says, “We’d like to give a little praise to our excellent community.” The post goes on to explain what transpired between the missing persons call and its resolution, noting, “This is a great example of our exceptional community coming together to lend a helping hand. This proves a great point, age is just a number and anyone can help out in a time of need.”

Community members heaped praise on the young investigators, as well. Cheryl Carniglia exclaimed, “So awesome!! I’m so proud of those kiddos for making a difference! They are truly the best of Roseville!” Mentioning the method that perked up the kids’ ears, one neighbor, Cheri Jahn, said, “This happened very close to our home. There was a helicopter flying over our neighborhood and they had a loud speaker talking about the woman being lost. Thankfully it was a happy ending. But I didn’t know kids were the ones who found her! 😀💕”

Proud Parents

National news was quick to pick up the story of the junior detectives, with profiles in USA Today and on CNN.com, among others. Logan’s mother, Alyssa Hultman, told Good Morning America“I’m really proud of him. I think it speaks to his character and the type of kid he is.” Hope and Kashton’s father, Daniel Claiborne, reportedly told multiple outlets that the kids’ actions reminded him of The Goonies; he told GMA, “When they came back home running in, so excited they found [Belford], I got so emotional. I’m so proud of them.” Makenna’s mom, Kristina Rogers, told CNN, “They are a great group of caring kids and its events like this that will really help shape them into their future selves.”

As for the kids, at least one — Logan — is considering a career in law enforcement at the encouragement of Officer Rob Bequara, who joked the friends could contact him in 10 years if they are looking for work. To commemorate their first victorious case, Makenna reported to CNN, “We had a party in my tree house eating goldfish and watching TikToks to celebrate.” All four are eager to help again when called upon. 

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