Missing 6-year-old boy from Monroe County found safe

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an AMBER Alert for 6-year-old Alijah Kensinger early Friday morning.
A missing 6-year-old boy at the center of an AMBER Alert was found safe Friday morning after almost 19 hours of search efforts in Monroe County.
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 12:09 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:43 PM EST
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MONROE CO., Tenn. (WVLT) - A missing 6-year-old boy at the center of an AMBER Alert was found safe Friday morning after almost 19 hours of search efforts in Monroe County, according to the Incident Commander Jason Fillyaw.

LIVE: Monroe Co. AMBER Alert Update

Alijah Kensinger, a 6-year-old boy at the center of an AMBER Alert, was found safe, according to the incident commander. https://bit.ly/33hfdr2

Posted by WVLT on Friday, January 14, 2022

“This is the best outcome we could’ve prayed for,” Fillyaw said. According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Alijah Kensinger went missing shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation cancelled the AMBER Alert after hours of searching.

“He’s a little cold, but otherwise in good spirits!” TBI officials said in a tweet. A volunteer told WVLT News searchers just walked up on the child bundled up against a tree with his hood up.

“We walked and we walked right up on him. So it was just the power of God that was all it was,” volunteer Stone Gray said.

Alijah reportedly asked the volunteer, “Where’s my daddy?”

Officials said Alijah went to play in the woods in the backyard with his dog. Soon after, the dog came back wet, and without Alijah. Officials were checking all the creeks and bodies of water nearby. It did rain during the day, according to officials. The incident commander said Alijah was found near a lake.

“We think he’s gone in the woods, gotten turned around, possibly injured himself and couldn’t find his way back,” said Fillyaw.

Detective Jason Fillyaw said the cold, the dark and the terrain became a challenge for search parties. About 30 people were searching on foot Thursday night into Friday morning. Officials said 2 THP helicopters and a TBI plane were also searching the air.

Over 100 people assisted in the search, according to police. Residents told WVLT News the woods are dense, hilly and hard to navigate.

“Unless you’re from the boonies and the sticks you don’t need to be here it’s hard enough looking for a kid we don’t need to be looking for adults too,” said resident, Eli Thompson.

Both Alijah’s mother and father were contacted by police on the status of their son’s disappearance. The father lives in Monroe County and the mother is from out-of-state, according to police.

The mother arrived to assist in search efforts early Friday morning.

“We are always outside adventuring and I honestly feel like the forest would be safe and preferable to other places he could be so I’m just hoping that we find him here,” Alijah’s mother, Amber Kensinger, told WVLT News during the search.

WVLT News spoke to Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones, who said responders left Alijah safe with his parents. He was also able to confirm that the Department of Child Services was not involved in this case.

AMBER Alert: 6-year-old Alijah Kensinger
AMBER Alert: 6-year-old Alijah Kensinger(Amber Kensinger)

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