2-Year-Old Home from Hospital After Going Missing In The Manistee National Forest

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A little girl who went missing for 24 hours and was then found in the Manistee National Forest is back home Friday night.

Amber Rose Smith, 2, was found Wednesday afternoon after her father said she opened the door to the home and walked away without him knowing it.

A DNR officer located her off a nearby trail, about a mile and three quarters from her house on 13 mile.

Her father, Dale Smith, said she was released from the hospital at around 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

He said one of her first requests was for food.

“Her first thing was macaroni and cheese, is what she wanted,” said Diane Smith, Amber’s mom. “She ate the whole bowl and then she wanted hot chocolate and apple juice.”

By Friday she was back to the business of being a 2-year-old, playing in the dirt, exploring the family’s Halloween pumpkins and chatting with Mom and Dad, who were holding her tight.

Diane said Amber hasn’t talked much about the ordeal except to say that she slept in the leaves and saw chipmunks and squirrels during her time in the woods.

She also told her parents she had gone into the forest with the family dogs, Vixen and Elvira.

“That’s all she’d say is they followed her into the woods and they left her there,” said Dale.

As for reports that Dale refused a polygraph test during early parts of the investigation, he said before Amber was found, Michigan State Police asked him to take one. However, his attorney told him to wait until he was present for a test.

“He did want me to take a private polygraph test through his office, which I had agreed to do. It was scheduled later in the day…the day that they had found Amber,” said Dale.

Dale also responded to the involvement of Child Protective Services in the investigation.

He said they talked to him as part of the routine investigation.

“It’s their protocol that they’ve already been here and they’ve checked everything out and said, ‘It’s all OK. All the kids are here at the house.’ They said that’s the way they’re going to leave it.”

There are some changes at the home for little Amber.

Dale and Diane have installed new locks higher up on the door so she can’t let herself and the dogs out.

“It’s just a barrel lock,” said Dale. “They’re way up here where me her mother, maybe her older sisters, can get them. So, we make sure she doesn’t do this again.

The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office said they are still investigating how Amber wandered so far into the forest on her own.  So far they say they have nothing that shows she didn’t walk there, but want to cover their bases.

They will turn over whatever information they find to the prosecutor’s office once their investigation is complete.

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