FBI announces case of missing 13-year-old girl from Kirtland was not a kidnapping

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The FBI announced on Sept. 24 that the reported abduction of 13-year-old Kaylani Benallie on Sept. 14 in Kirtland was not a kidnapping.

The federal agency released very little information on the abrupt change in the investigation.

Her disappearance from a rodeo grounds and RV park sparked a large search effort that night and a daylight search the next day. She was found about 12 hours after she vanished at a trading post in Arizona.

An FBI spokesperson made the news public at 3:37 p.m. on Sept. 24  via a news release that stated the man they at firstbelieved to have kidnapped the girl was identified and interviewed.

The only real hint at the change is a statement issued by FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda.

"We and our law enforcement partners are still sorting out what happened, but we spare no resources when we get a report that a child may be in danger," Bujanda said.

No additional information was shared on the investigation in the news release.

Brittany Alert was issued

Benallie’s disappearance was first announced around 10:52 p.m. on Sept. 14 as a Brittany Alert, issued for someone who is endangered and missing who has been diagnosed with a development disability.

She was last seen at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 14, walking to a restroom at the Broken Horn Arena/RV Park on County Road 6100 in Kirtland.

Benallie was later found around 7:30 to 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 15 at a trading post in Red Valley, Arizona. She had minor injuries when she was located.

No information has been released as to how she ended up in another state, about 44 miles away.

It was an FBI news release at 1:45 p.m. on Sept. 15 that announced the change from a missing person’s case to an abduction case, as they sought a man in a pickup truck.

A sketch of the suspect was released on Sept. 17 by the FBI. 

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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