Denise Hernandez, Amber Alert: Deputies find missing girl in field near her home, according to FDLE

IMMOKALEE — In the middle of an open field, the morning sun rising over the trees in southwest Immokalee, a little girl suddenly appeared.

She waddled toward more than a dozen searchers and a few tracking dogs, crying as they descended upon her.

About 10 hours after the girl, Denise Hernandez, went missing from her family's Wells Street home, she was found at 9 a.m. Monday. Sheriff's officials confirmed Hernandez has been located and is safe.

Bruno Campos, a neighbor of the Hernandezes, said he spoke with the girl's father at about 9:15 a.m., hearing the father cry on the phone as he received the news.

"It's pretty amazing they found her alive," Campos said. "It brings joy to everybody that they found her OK."

Campos said he was told the girl disappeared through a window of the family's home. Based on the evidence that has been gathered so far, deputies believe that the toddler left the house and was not abducted.

Neighbors and law enforcement officials from several agencies were canvassing the area as Hernandez was located. Tracking dogs had just been released near a field off Immokalee Road, about a quarter-mile from the Hernandez home, when the dogs took off toward the girl.

Within moments, she'd been swept up by a rescuer and carried to safety.

Sheriff's officials remain on the scene, searching the field for clues about her disappearance.

Carlos Arviso, who lives next door to the Hernandezes small, red-roofed home on a dead-end street, said his dogs started barking at about 11:30 p.m. Roughly 10 minutes later, Hernandez's father banged on his door and Arviso called 911.

Arviso said he doubted the 2-year-old could climb out the window.

"There's just no way she could have gotten out of there by herself," Arviso, 21, said. "She's just too little."

Margarito Angeles, a family friend and godfather to three of the Hernandezes' children, said the girl's father is at a hospital with the 2-year-old, while the mother was being comforted by eight or nine friends at a nearby home.

Angeles said the family has been in Immokalee for more than a decade, the father working as a landscaper and the mother taking care of their five children.

Angeles said he had no reason to suspect any family involvement in the disappearance.

"I feel like somebody had to take her," Angeles said. "But if the little girl is fine, everything is fine."

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