Community concerns grow in missing toddler case

Authorities search a rural area in North Columbia Thursday after getting a tip about missing toddler Amir Jennings.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - The missing poster on the front porch of Amir Jenning's grandmother's house is starting to fray a bit, and as more time passes, so do the nerves of neighbors who used to see little Amir play on the streets near his grandmother's Columbia home.

Jennings was 18-months-old the last time anyone saw him on Thanksgiving.

"As more time passes the anxiety builds and the negativity builds," says Leroy Brown, a longtime resident of the neighborhood who has been watching the case closely.

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Brown, like many of his neighbors, is getting more and more concerned as more time goes by, and Amir remains missing. The child hasn't been seen in more than 60 days.

"The longer the time goes on, of course, you think it might not be a good outcome to the situation," said Allen Martin, who lives just a few doors down from Amir's grandmother. "Hopefully it's not like that. Hopefully you find him nice and safe."

On Thursday, the first new tip in the case in several weeks lead police to a thickly-wooded area in North Columbia near Monticello Road. Acting on what investigators will only call "credible information," dozens of searchers from SLED, the FBI, Columbia Police, Richland County Sheriff's Department and Columbia-Richland Fire Department, combed a roughly eight-and-a-half mile area looking for anything that could lead them to Amir. The search was called off after roughly six hours. Investigators say they found nothing.

"We cannot assume anything at this point during this criminal investigation," said Jennifer Timmons, a spokeswoman with the Columbia Police Department. "We are still hopeful and we are not going to let go of hope until we find Amir Jennings."

Police are hoping the public will share any detail they know about Jennings' disappearance to help them to do that. So do the people who live right around the corner from the little boy.

"There are times when you just hope some good news is coming," said Brown. "But, we still keep hoping and we're prayerful. Very prayerful."

Police are urging anyone with information about the case to call CrimeStopperS at 1-888-CRIME-SC. All calls remains anonymous. Earlier this month, authorities announced a possible $10,000 reward for information linked to the Jennings case.