CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It has been 731 days since 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford was reported missing from her Lewis County home.
In the two years since she was last seen in her bed at the small rented home in the Bendale area, her extended family and law enforcement have searched high and low with no results.
In the same span of time, her mother, Lena Lunsford, who reported her missing the morning of Sept. 24, 2011, in a frantic 911 call, has been in and out of jail several times and is currently pregnant with her third child since Aliayah's disappearance.
Vickie Bowen, Aliayah's great-aunt, never met the brown-haired toddler but saw plenty of pictures of her before she vanished.
She never imagined she'd still be handing out flyers, putting the girl's picture up, or searching under every rock (sometimes literally) looking for her two years later.
"I never thought it would go on this long," Bowen said. "I sure never thought I'd be here two years ago."
A mother of two and grandmother of two boys, she sat in on a vigil at Jackson's Mill Baptist Church Saturday evening. The outpouring of community support touched her, but it was the Lewis sheriff's deputies that gave her hope.
The sheriff's department assures her Aliayah's case hasn't gone cold and deputies are constantly working the case. Her hope grew when she learned deputies had arrested a Weston man and charged him with the kidnapping and murder of his mother and grandmother, both of whom went missing in 1999.
Joseph Metz, 39, was arrested Sept. 19 and charged with first-degree murder, robbery and kidnapping in the disappearance of his mother, Mary Friend, 46, and grandmother, Maxine Stalnaker, 69.
The women disappeared Dec. 1, 1999, after leaving the Jane Lew area on a shopping trip. Their vehicle, a silver-gray station wagon was found five days later in a muddy lot behind a concrete wall in Harrison County. One of the women's purses was found in 2002 at Stonewall Jackson Lake.
Authorities searched the lake, at the time believing their bodies were weighted down at the bottom, but found nothing. Their bodies have never been recovered.
"If this case can be solved I believe Sheriff Adam Gissy can do it," Bowen said. "He assured us that Mary, Maxine and Aliayah's cases were top priorities. I do believe that.
"They really want to solve this case. The community's demanding it and the family is demanding it."
Law enforcement continues to receive active leads in the case, FBI spokeswoman Kelly Kochamba said. Investigators also are working with the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, which facilitates a partnership between public safety agencies, federal, state and local law enforcement and the private sector, according to its website.
"We're still continuing our investigation along with federal, state and local law enforcement," Kochamba said. "Leads are still coming in and they're being addressed currently."
While authorities continue the search, family, friends and community members have taken on the hunt for answers themselves. She said there was a huge outpouring of love and prayers for brown-eyed, brown-haired Aliayah.
"The community has a right to know and they want to know that if it wasn't her parents (behind Aliayah's disappearance), are their children safe?" Bowen said. "If my grandbabies lived in Weston that would be a thought in the back of my mind."
Bowen goes out on searches with maybe five or six people, usually friends and family members. They've been to areas in the woods accessible only by all-terrain vehicle and sketchy neighborhoods she never knew existed before searching.
"If we hear of something, no matter how big or little, we're there," she said. "We don't hesitate."