November 7, 1998

From the
Channel 4 newsroom,
here's the transcript
of today's top story...

Today's top news picture.

Have you seen Maddie?

After three days, girl still missing; reward doubled
The parents of a missing 8-year-old girl tearfully asked Friday for the return of their daughter, who disappeared Tuesday evening.

In a news conference outside their south Jacksonville home, Steve and Sheila Clifton thanked the hundreds of volunteers and police involved in her search for their daughter, Maddie Clifton, and begged that she return.

"Maddie, if you are out there and you can hear us, we are ready for you to come back home," her sobbing mother said. "Maddie is a very strong little girl. She is full of love. Maddie, please come home!"

If you've seen Maddie Clifton or have any information about her disappearance, call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 630-0500.
" "If someone has Maddie, please let her go," Steve Clifton said."Let her go anywhere and run if you have to. I know with all the people out, she would be found immediately."

Late Friday the Cliftons announced the reward for the child's safe return was increased to $100,000.

On Thursday, police spent eight hours questioning a neighbor who last saw the child before she disappeared. Larry Grisham said he failed a police polygraph and gave police DNA samples.

"I'm a prime suspect. I'm 45 years old, I play with children and I have a criminal record. That makes me a suspect," Grisham said.

Lt. Mark Foxworth, a homicide detective, said Friday that no one has been eliminated as a suspect. Six other neighbors also were interviewed by police.

On Friday, members of the U.S. Army Reserve were making what they called a "hard search," which included looking in culverts and opening manhole covers.

Information on the girl will be broadcast this weekend on "America's Most Wanted."

Maddie vanished Tuesday night about 5:30 p.m. She was last seen chipping golf balls with Grisham in a yard between his house and a neighbor's, about five doors down from her home.

While police continue to investigate, family and friends tied yellow ribbons to trees and pinned small ones to their clothes. A massive search of the area was planned for Saturday.

Fliers with the girl's picture are on display at businesses on Jacksonville's southside. The family has also posted an online version of the flyer on the Web.

Thanks to the World Wide Web, eyes on the lookout for Maddie Clifton are now scattered across the state and the nation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted Maddie's picture on their website Thursday evening... and the Missing Children's Help Center in Florida also has the picture displayed.

A national television audience will also see Maddie's image, as America's Most Wanted has said they will publicize the case in their program.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 4 throughout the weekend for updates on the search for Maddie.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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