A family dog brought home a child's severed foot, but searchers combing surrounding woods in northwest Alabama found no signs of any other remains and don't know where the child might be.
No children have been reported missing, killed or maimed in or around Russellville. Police Chief Chris Hargett said investigators were studying missing persons reports from nearby areas and sent the severed foot for forensic tests in a bid to narrow the search.
The son of a homeowner spotted the family dog carrying something late Saturday and called his father, who then alerted police. Hargett said an orthopedic surgeon verified that the dog had dragged up a child's bare foot, severed below the ankle.
The foot was found in a subdivision, Hargett said, and authorities on Sunday searched the area with cadaver-sniffing dogs without finding anything.
"A dog could have brought it so far and then another one got it," Hargett said. "It could be miles away."
He added that the foot appeared to have been outdoors only a few days, but he gave no immediate indication whether a child might be found alive or dead.
Searchers plan to head out again Tuesday with dogs in hopes that any scent from decomposing remains may be stronger by then, Hargett added.
Meanwhile, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences was conducting tests to determine the child's age and possibly race and gender.
"We've got to narrow it down," Hargett said.
Russellville, with about 9,000 residents, is located in a heavily wooded, mostly rural part of the state.