The FBI and the State Law Enforcement Division have joined Lexington County deputies to assist in the ongoing search for a girl reported missing more than 35 years ago.

Members of an FBI unit specializing in child abductions arrived in Lexington Monday to work alongside deputies and SLED agents in the search for Jessica Gutierrez, who detectives said was kidnapped from her South Lake Drive home in June 1986. Gutierrez was 4 years old.

“Jessica’s mother was unable to find her when family members woke up on June 6, 1986,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “A large area was searched on foot, on all-terrain vehicles and by air in the days after she disappeared. But no one has seen Jessie since.”

Koon said he asked the FBI to help search for Gutierrez and to canvas the area and talk with neighbors who lived near her family just as investigators did when she was first reported missing.

“This is a team of highly trained and experienced experts on missing children cases,” Koon said. “Over the coming days, the team will provide on-the-ground investigative, technical, behavioral analysis and analytical support to find out more about what happened to Jessie.”

“Our goal is to help in the quest to find answers for the Gutierrez family,” said Susan Ferensic, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Columbia Field Office. “We want to provide an array of resources the FBI has to assist the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department in solving this case.”

“We’ll need the community’s help on this too. They’re a very valuable part of the work being done here over the next couple of weeks,” Koon said. “We know it’s been a long time, but we believe it’s very likely someone has information that can lead us to Jessie.

“Even if you have been interviewed before or if you have never talked to law enforcement, now is the time to come forward if you have information that can help us. You might see our investigative teams over the next two weeks, please talk with them. Even if you ‘think’ what you know can’t help, let us decide if what you know is relevant. It might be the final piece to add to the evidence we have to find Jessie.”

Anyone with information about the case can share tips by calling 803-785-2457 or contacting Crimestoppers.

Photo is age-progressed to show what Guitierrez may look like today.

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