FBI, Cuyahoga County Sheriff join ramped up efforts to find missing Parma teen

FBI, police ramping up search for missing Parma teenager

PARMA - The FBI and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department have both joined local law enforcement in the search for a missing 17-year-old girl.

Katarina Bitterman has not been seen since last Saturday, when her parents left town and she stayed home to take care of the family dogs.

Her parents left their Augustine Drive home around 1:30 p.m. A neighbor claims to have seen Katarina walking down the street around 2:30 p.m., but her cell phone was left at home. 

Katarina's parents couldn't make contact with her and asked friends to check the house. They reported her missing Saturday night.

"She was happy.  She was dancing around showing me her new pajamas before we left. She was going to take a nap and work on her school project. She was excited about her school project. She was going to be doing the modeling for the class so she was excited about that," Bitterman's parents told WKYC's Dawn Kendrick.

At least 25 FBI agents began going door-to-door along Augustine Drive and the surrounding neighborhood, Wednesday, interviewing residents as they try to piece together what might have happened to Katarina. 

"They have been out here in force with our detectives canvassing this area looking for clues. Looking for anything at all," said Parma Police Captain Kevin Riley.

A police dog picked up her scent Saturday.

"The track ended here at Edgecliff and Augustine that's where we lost her," says Riley.

It's where FBI agents picked up, Wednesday, day 4 of her disappearance.

"We're treating this as a very serious matter and we're treating this as an endangered missing person until we find her but there is nothing new to report today," said Riley.

"Everybody has their kids on lockdown," says mother of 2, Heather Bowman

From her home a couple blocks away from where Bitterman, a Normandy High School junior went missing.

"We don't have any information. We don't know what's going on. Should we be concerned? Was she kidnapped?  Did she leave on her own free will?" Asks Bowman.

"Look, you know that's a possibility. We know she walked away on her own but not knowing where she is or who she is with, we certainly are concerned that she is in danger," says Riley.

"With all these girls, not just here with Kat missing, but in the city in general coming up missing left and right seems like it happens way too much lately," says Bowman.

Particularly alarming she says is a state registered sex offender website that readily brings up several in the Parma neighborhood around where Bitterman disappeared.

When asked how that fact plays into the investigation, Riley says, "I don't want to get into specifics of the investigation but everything is on the table".

Katarina is described as being 5-foot-5 and 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on her location is asked to call Parma Police at 440-885-1234.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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