TYLER - Today marks three days since Kayla Gomez-Orozco disappeared from a Bullard church, with still no signs of her whereabouts or credible tips about her disappearance.
Kayla and her family were at Bullard First Assembly Church Tuesday night attending a prayer service. After the service, Kayla went to wait in the lobby while her parents visited. That was the last time anyone saw her.
Parents called police after checking to see if Kayla was with any other family members or friends, and the search began. Early Wednesday morning, authorities issued an Amber Alert.
Kayla, a fourth-grader at Jack Elementary School in Tyler, is 4-feet tall and weighs 90 pounds. She has waist-length brown hair and brown eyes, and was wearing a black Racquet and Jog shirt, a peach skirt and black shoes when she disappeared.
Kenneth is 10 years older than his baby sister, and he has become the family’s de facto spokesperson as they desperately try to bring Kayla home.
"My parents are really frustrated. We feel helpless,” Kayla’s brother Kenneth Gomez, said. “We can't do anything and it brings a lot of pain.”
"We miss her, we love her. She was the life of this home,” said family friend Jazmine Aguilar.
Authorities called a press conference Wednesday afternoon, and FBI Senior Special Agent Thomas Class, Sr. said Kayla is considered a missing person but, that officials have not ruled out a possible abduction. He also called on the public for assistance, asking anyone with information to contact the FBI tipline at 972-559-5711.
The community rallied around the family and have held several prayer vigils since her disappearance, all for the safe return of the 10-year-old little girl.
"The community has helped a lot. It has showed a lot of support. We had a lot of people who wanted to come and stop by just to say they're praying is there anything we need." Christopher Gomez, said. "Right now all we really need is prayers."
Dozens of law enforcement officials have continued to search for Kayla in and around the church where she disappeared. Meanwhile, members of the Air Land Emergency Resource Team (ALERT) Academy spent most of Thursday performing a tight-grid search, going back over areas to ensure they look everywhere for the little girl.
Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell said officials are working every possible angle, though he declined to comment on specifics of the investigation.
“We are working on all the leads and doing homework, interviewing people,” Campbell said. “There’s lots of agencies and people involved in this. It’s the largest operation that I’ve seen since I’ve been sheriff (for 22 years). Everyone is pulling together and working together well.”
Cherokee County Crime Stoppers announced Wednesday a $13,000 reward for information that leads to Kayla's return. Tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 903-586-7867 or to the FBI tip line at 972-559-5711.
As of Thursday morning, the reward has increased to $60,000 because of two substantial donations recently submitted. The reward likely will grow as donations continue to come in to the account. Contributions can be made at any Austin Bank in the “Jacksonville Crime Stoppers” account. Donors must make a note that the donation is for Kayla’s fund.
“We are checking every tip we get, talking to lots of people, going door-to-door and taking advantage of all the resources and the FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety have provided,” Campbell said.
On "Help Find Kayla Gomez," Facebook page, family members have posted notes thanking the community for support and asking for continued prayers. A YouCaring.com account was established for East Texans to donate directly to the family. The raised funds will help pay the family’s bills while they take time off from work to help with the search.
“The house doesn’t have as much life right now,” Kenneth said. “Kayla is the life of it.”
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Tyler Morning Telegraph contributed to this story.