Toddler still missing a year after tornado

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 16:48:00-05

DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - A mystery remains one year after a deadly EF-3 tornado struck Dougherty County. A two-year-old child is still missing after the storm.

Family members said Detrez Green vanished when a tornado struck their mobile home park. 

But an extensive search turned up nothing and many questions remain about his disappearance. 

"It's hard to pinpoint exactly where everything was," said Lan Skalla with Albany Search & Rescue.

On the night of January 22, Skalla was one of dozens of search and rescue volunteers who descended on the tornado-ravaged Piney Woods Estates mobile home park in search of a missing toddler. But he quickly realized some things were off.

"There were no current pictures of the child and that was kind of odd. And I never had anyone come up to me and say 'I saw this child at this location,'" said Skalla.

The parents of Detrez Green said they last saw the child when he was going into the kitchen near the back door of the home when a tornado sent an oak tree crashing into their house.

"We started working this area based on the rotation of the winds. If the child was taken out of the home and sucked over to the side where we thought he might have landed. So we took all these debris fields apart and the Georgia Search & Rescue Team came in and went back to the house the child was supposedly living in and took that debris field and house apart," said Skalla.

For five days crews searched through twisted debris, rubble, fields, and woods. 

"We covered out to the northwest going out to the bypass just to make sure that child was not carried out in the direction of the storm," said Skalla.

Cadaver dogs were brought in and eventually crews partially drained a pond searching for any sign of Detrez. Nothing was found.

"We got no positive hits that we could unequivocally say there was human presence here," said Skalla, who has been involved in more than 40 search and rescue operations.

He said it's rare for a person to vanish without a trace during a storm like a tornado.

"In a search situation usually we find some clothing, we find some human articles we can tie to the victim. In this case, we didn't find anything," he said.

Just over two years prior to the tornado, Detrez's father, Kevian Green, was taken into custody in November 2014 following a standoff at an Ashburn home when Detrez was only 6 days old. 

A police report indicated the newborn and one-year-old child were in the home along with the children's mother, Adaijah Rainey.

A SWAT team was called in after someone called 911 call saying a man with a gun was holding a woman and her children at the home on Pine Knott Street.

Rainey, who was 19 at the time, told police it was a misunderstanding.

Days after the storm, GBI agents searched the home and yard surrounding the Ashburn home but it's believed nothing of significance was recovered.

The initial search diverted resources to the mobile home park at a time when many parts of Dougherty County were in shambles.

Officials estimate the search crews, dive team, and the helicopter brought in to search for the child cost upwards of a million dollars.

For Skalla and others, the case is frustrating

"You always want to know the answer. If you don't find anything it's always frustrating," he said.

A year later, there is still no picture of the child that has been released to the public.

The GBI would not go on camera for an interview only saying the case is still under investigation.

WALB has reached out several times for reaction from the parents of Detrez Green but they have not returned our requests for an interview. 

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Detrez Green is asked to contact Dougherty County Police at 229-430-6600. 

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