Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Brianna Denison

The Search Continues

 Reno police continued their search for Denison for the next several days, using search crews, dogs and helicopters to comb the areas near UNR, the surrounding snowy foothills, and other isolated areas in the vicinity. Uniformed officers also went door-to-door throughout the neighborhood in an effort to find someone who may have seen or heard something suspicious around the time Denison disappeared, but they failed to turn up anything significant. They also searched other areas around Reno, including along the Truckee River that runs through the center of town, and along the Union Pacific railroad tracks, to no avail. The suspicious male DNA did not yield any hits in any law enforcement databases, indicating that the apparent abductor was not a known registered sex offender.

Brianna Denison
Brianna Denison
In the aftermath of Denison's disappearance, literally hundreds of volunteers showed up daily at the "Brianna Search Operations Center," set up inside a local casino. Fliers, along with blue ribbons that said, "Got Bri," were distributed and volunteers braved the harsh, cold weather of the Northern Nevada winter each day to conduct grid searches in designated areas, all to no avail. Even Governor Jim Gibbons' wife, Dawn Gibbons, joined in the effort to look for clues, such as clothing or other evidence that might shed light on what had happened to Denison.

"As a mother of a child nearly the same age as Brianna," Ms. Gibbons, whose son had attended high school with Denison, said, "my heart goes out to the entire Denison family. I continue to be impressed by the overwhelming community support and many volunteers dedicated to the ongoing search efforts. This tragic case has touched the hearts of so many across the state."

Despite the best efforts of everyone involved in the search for Denison, detectives knew that time would soon be working against them, if it wasn't already. "It is hugely important to solve a case like this in the first 24 to 36 hours," Reno police commander Ron Holladay said. "Every bit after that reduces our chances of finding her alive."

Denison's relatives described her as a responsible and caring young woman, and maintained that she would have contacted them if she could. Their fear for her well-being increased with each passing hour.

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