Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Child's murderer still not found, case is open

Another year has gone by, making 22 years since the kidnapper and killer of four-year-old Dannarriah Finley still hasn't been arrested.

The sleeping child was kidnapped sometime in the early morning of July 4, 2002, from the small house in the 1000 block Fourth Street where she lived with her mother and siblings. The house could be seen from Park Avenue, a thoroughfare leading to Simmons Drive and the nearby Sabine River.

The Orange Police Department was the lead on the massive investigation that also drew in the FBI and Texas Rangers. The case is always active in the minds of detectives at OPD. The colorful flowered shirt and pink shorts she was wearing when her body was found are framed and on a wall in the offices.

They always hope some new technology for the massive amount of evidence collected will help lead to a case file against the killer.

The child was only a couple of weeks away from her fifth birthday when she was taken in darkness from the house, where other children were sleeping, too. Her mother notified police at 10 a.m. that morning after not being able to find the child with friends or relatives.

An areawide search kicked into gear. Forty-eight hours before she was reported missing, volunteers from around the community, including then-Mayor Brown Claybar, along with the famous Equisearch, combed a large area of Orange south of Interstate 10 between Simmons Drive and Green Avenue. They looked under houses, in storage sheds and bushes, even in drain pipes. All the work was in temperatures reaching into the upper 90s. Horses, ATVs and even planes and boats looked.

Four days after she was reported missing, her decaying body was found on sand at a remote area of Pleasure Island in Port Arthur. Pipeline workers found the body after an alligator had brought it onto the land.

The historic Mount Zion Church had become a place for the volunteers to gather and later held her funeral, which drew a large crowd as the community mourned the loss of a young child with a shy smile in the school photograph used for the search.

The case is still open and anyone with information should contact the Orange Police Department at 409-883-1026.


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