MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The mother of a 3-year-old girl who vanished from her West Virginia home six months ago Saturday believes that her daughter is still alive and prays daily for her safe return, her attorney said Friday.
Lena Lunsford doesn't know what happened to daughter Aliayah or where she is, but Mike Woelfel said she refuses to give up hope and continues to cooperate with investigators.
"Lena is convinced that no blood relative of Aliayah knows what has happened to her. Nor was she involved in any way with her disappearance," he told The Associated Press.
Asked whether Lunsford believes a non-blood relative may have been involved, Woelfel said only, "She doesn't know what has happened to Aliayah."
She has, however, recently filed for divorce from her husband, Ralph Keith Lunsford. She's been living with her mother for months under a judge's order and is currently awaiting sentencing for federal welfare fraud. But the lawyer said Lena's mother died about two weeks ago.
Aliayah vanished from her Lewis County home near Bendale on Sept. 24, and there has been no sign of her since.
Lunsford, 29, told police her daughter was in bed at 6:30 a.m. but was gone when she checked on her later. Aliayah was about 3 feet tall and 35 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing purple pajama bottoms and a pink sweatshirt.
Based on the configuration of the door, the doorway and the doorsteps, Woelfel said he and Lena Lunsford have concluded "there is no way the child could have simply wandered off from the home. No way."
"A child that age, that size, with the dexterity of a child that age," he said, "... it's all but physically impossible to have just been a simple walk-off.
"I'm not saying it's an impossibility," he added, "but we don't believe that happened."