Kodie Dutcher was a 10-year-old Baraboo, Wisconsin, girl who is being remembered as “an amazing, silly, and loving kid.” She was the subject of an Amber Alert, and the community rallied to help search for the child; it was feared she would harm herself. Tragically, Kodie has now been found dead not far from her home.
Authorities haven’t given more details about the child’s death. According to WKOW-TV, the child’s body was found in a cornfield by a National Guard helicopter close to her home in the area of 11th Street and County Highway T. The cause of death was not yet released. Police shared that information on their Facebook page and wrote that more details would be forthcoming.
They now say the child’s preliminary autopsy findings point to pharmacologic suicide.
Kodie’s family released a statement that was read out loud at a vigil in memory of Kodie:
“We were in awe at the response of this community. From the police department, to the volunteers, to the fire department and EMS who stayed with us all afternoon, to the counselors and other individuals who literally held us up/together as our world shattered around us. Kodie was such an amazing, silly, and loving kid. We are heartbroken.”
According to Fox 6, Kodie was considered “endangered.” She hadn’t been seen since 4 p.m. on July 6 in Baraboo.
Police gave a live update on Kodie’s case on July 7 before her body was found:
Baraboo police said they were originally dispatched to apartments in Baraboo for a missing juvenile and spoke to the mother. Information obtained from the initial search of the residence suggested Kodie had threatened self harm. A search was conducted that included drone teams.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dutcher Was Believed to Have Taken Pills & to Be Suicidal; the Police Chief Urged the Community to ‘Care for Each Other’
The police chief, Mark Schauf, released a statement after the little girl’s heartbreaking death.
“The Baraboo community experienced a tragedy Monday that will live with us all for a long time. In a time of fear and anger, our community also experienced shock and heartache. I am seldom shy with words, but today I cannot express my sadness. More important, I cannot find a way to express my appreciation,” he wrote.
“Every person who called or reached out to us had a simple question for us, ‘What do you need, or what can I do?’ Our needs today are simple. Care for each other. Maybe we can bring the love shown for a little girl few of us knew to the greater community and be better today with hopes of a better tomorrow. Kodie deserves that of us. Thank you from the Baraboo Police Department and the entire City of Baraboo to everyone who gave so tirelessly of their time, talent, and selves in this difficult period.”
Amber Alert Wisconsin gave this information about Dutcher:
DATE AND TIME LAST SEEN: 07/06/20 at 4:00 pm
LOCATION LAST SEEN: 1100 Block 12th Street – Baraboo
WHERE MISSING CHILD IS FROM: Baraboo, WI
The alert said that the child “is believed to be on foot.”
“Kodie has been missing since 4:00 pm on 07/06/20. Kodie is suspected to have taken an unknown amount of pills and may be suicidal,” the alert says. “Emergency Services have checked the area but have not been able to locate Kodie. She left behind her cell phone and shoes. Any information on Kodie’s whereabouts please contact the Baraboo Police Department at (608) 963-5622.”
The last contact the mother had with Kodie was at 4 p.m. via a video chat on social media. The mother discovered Kodie missing when she arrived home from work around 4:30 p.m. She expressed to police that her daughter was excited because they were supposed to go camping in Minocqua with family on July 7.
2. Dutcher, Who Recently Moved to the Area, Was Last Seen in Overalls Without Shoes
In a statement, Sauk County Emergency Management advised, “Please DO NOT attempt to search heavily wooded areas or cornfields during the overnight hours. This is extremely dangerous given some of the terrain in the area. Do not go on to private property and Do not go where you are unable to see due to darkness. The help is appreciated and we will advise if additional assistance is needed for planned area searches.”
— Amelia Jones NBC15 (@AmeliaJonesTV) July 7, 2020
The site noted: “Baraboo first responders are currently looking for a missing 10-year-old female. She was last seen in the 1100 block of 12th St. at approximately 4 PM in the city of Baraboo. She is approximately 4’8″ tall, blonde hair, and weighs approximately 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pair of overalls and possibly no shoes. Her name is Kodie and has recently moved to the area. If you know her whereabouts or see her please call 911. There is also a picture of her on the Baraboo Police Department Facebook page. As always, thank you for your assistance.”
All of her shoes were in the residence, police say.
3. The Child Left Behind a Note for Her Mother
Compounding concerns for Dutcher’s well-being, she left behind a heartbreaking note for her mother.
The note read, “Mom, I love you, but I can’t do it. Bye,” according to Fox 6. Police confirmed in the news conference that the girl left a note threatening self-harm. They are still looking into the prescription medications and what they were and the amount taken.
Baraboo police said the mother had tight control of the girl’s social media and noted nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing had been posted since the last moment she had contact with family.
According the Department of Justice guidelines for Amber Alerts, they require that:
There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
The child’s name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
Police said the statewide alert was issued late on July 6. “They felt there was enough information that we could put out the Amber Alert,” Baraboo police said.
4. The Community Rallied Around Dutcher to Form Searches
According to NBC 15, many people showed up to help search for the missing girl.
“AMBER ALERT VOLUNTEERS: People wanting to volunteer to help search for missing Baraboo 10-year-old Kodie Dutcher are asked to check in at the Baraboo Civic Center gym. NBC15’s Amelia Jones reported hearing an officer say ‘hundreds’ of volunteers are searching the area,” the station reported, sharing this photo:
The reporter, Amelia Jones, said in a live video that the Amber Alerts started at 11 p.m. on July 6 and then were sent out again on July 7. She said that an on-foot search was being conducted and family members and strangers together were searching all night for Dutcher. The Amber Alert went out statewide. Authorities also searched by drone. “So far, they have not been able to find Kodie Dutcher.”
5. Kodie’s Family Believes the Girl Might Have Experienced Bullying, a Reporter Claims
Jones reported that family members are concerned that Dutcher was experiencing bullying and her mood may have changed lately. However, police said the girl had not shown signs recently of self-harm, other than the note. The family moved to the Baraboo area in April from out of state so they don’t know many people in the area, according to Baraboo police, who described the girl’s mother as distraught and very cooperative. The girl seemed happy in Baraboo but wasn’t in school long enough to establish friends in the area because of COVID-19 affecting the school season, said police.
There were no previous police calls to the family’s residence.
“They said she was an incredibly bright 10-year-old. She’s very, very smart,” said Jones.
The family was supposed to vacation at Lake Tomahawk. The family told Jones they had moved to Baraboo just in the last year. “It hasn’t been very long that they had been there,” she said, adding that they wished Dutcher could see how many people had been searching for the girl.
Canine teams were coming from in and out of state, according to Baraboo police. “We have very little information on where she went,” police said.