GARY | A Gary detective used an extended snow brush and flashlight Thursday to get through thick grass in an open field near 27th Avenue and Delaware Street.
The sound of cars zooming by the nearby Interstate 80/94 were met with the sound of crunching branches. Detective Lt. Nelson Otano was searching the thick grass for a trail, disturbed branches or for any hint of Diamond Bynum and King Walker.
Thursday's search comes as it nears four weeks since Bynum, 21, and her 2-year-old nephew, King, went missing after taking a nap on July 25 at their home in the 500 block of Matthews Street in Gary.
Police and family members have said Diamond Bynum is developmentally disabled with the mental capacity of a 5- to 7-year-old. King only knows a few words and does not speak in complete sentences.
Last week, Gary police named Terrance D. Williams, 34, of Gary, as a person of interest in the case. On Thursday, Gary police Lt. Dawn Westerfield said detectives still want to speak to Williams, who goes by "Dollar."
Diamond Bynum's father, Eugene Bynum Jr., met with Otano and volunteers Thursday at the command center in the 300 block of 21st Avenue as they prepared for another day of searching.
Eugene Bynum said he plans to continue searching for his daughter and grandson until they are found. He said the group wants professional manpower such as the National Guard to continue the search.
The family is offering $1,000 for any information leading police to Diamond Bynum and King Walker. Bynum said they are seeking donations to increase the reward to entice someone to come forward.
He also said they created a Go Fund Me page to take donations for water, food and gas for volunteers.
His wife, Susanne Bynum, urged anyone to call 911 immediately after spotting Diamond Bynum and King Walker. She said it's frustrating to hear from people who think they spotted the pair but didn't call police.
"It's really frustrating and upsetting," she said. "It doesn't help at all."
She's unsure what Diamond Bynum's mental state is because this weekend marks four weeks since she last took her medication. Eugene Bynum said his daughter has always known his phone number and knows she would call him if she had access to a phone.
As Otano searched through the open field, Eugene Bynum and five volunteers searched the neighborhood's abandoned houses. Volunteers have already searched about 500 vacant buildings in Gary.
Paula Kirklen, of Gary, said ideally two people search the vacant property while another person remains outside to ensure everyone gets out safely. A fourth person is tasked with putting up a missing person flyer which marks the houses that have been searched.
The U.S. Postal Service is distributing a similar flyer to ZIP codes in Gary, East Chicago, Hammond and Chicago.
Kirklen has spent the past two weeks searching for Diamond Bynum and King Walker after reading about their story.
"To me it seemed like two lost babies out roaming around," she said.
She said the work has been challenging, especially hearing Eugene Bynum calling out the names of his daughter and grandson.
"You go into these abandoned houses not knowing what you're going to find," Kirklen said. "That's what scares me the most, going into these houses and finding someone."
Bynum is African-American, 4 feet 8 inches tall, 210 pounds and has gold highlights in her hair. She was last seen wearing a white top and blue jeans.
King is African-American, 3 feet tall, 35 pounds and has braided hair. He was last wearing red shorts and a blue T-shirt.
Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call Gary Police Department Detective Sgt. Gregory Wolf at (219) 881-1210 or the Crime Tip Line at (866) 274-6347. Callers can remain anonymous.