BARTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - The parents of Amber Rose Smith, the 2-year-old who was found 24 hours after disappearing from home, said they are wondering whether somebody had taken her.
"What I get from talking to some of the officers, they said that does happen a lot: In certain circumstances, that if somebody takes a child or abducts them, they get scared later, seeing how much law enforcement is after them and everything, they might get scared and drop them off somewhere," Amber's dad, Dale Smith, told 24 Hour News 8 on Friday.
Amber, who was found Wednesday in the woods, returned home Thursday night after spending a day at the hospital.
On Friday, she watched cartoons, pointed out animals in a picture book, drew pictures in the dirt with a stick, played with her dogs and tried to catch a bug.
She also showed off the few scratches on her legs.
Her mom, Diane Smith, said she wonders how her daughter could have just a few scratches after spending the night in the woods. An abduction, she said, makes more sense.
"I think so, because it don't make no sense, especially her being 2 and walking that distance, it don't seem possible," she said.
Amber -- the youngest of eight girls, five of them living at home -- is too young to say much.
"Just little things," her dad said. "She followed the dogs across the road, things like that, then it goes to how all she'd seen was chipmunks and squirrels."
"She's having nightmares and stuff but she's not really opening up yet," her mom said.
Amber disappeared from her home just before 2 p.m. Tuesday and was found after a massive search about 24 hours later. She was nearly two miles away.
Her father said police told him they found tire tracks not far from where she was found.
"They did come take pictures of my tire tracks, of course, to rule me out," he said. He said police ruled him out.
Dale Smith, a 45-year-old truck driver who is between jobs, said police also asked him to take a polygraph test before they found his daughter -- and that he refused, on the advice of his attorney.
"They never said I was a suspect, but they were just ruling out all their conclusions," he said. "They had to go step by step. They said it was just a procedure."
The questions, he said, were difficult.
"But I know the truth. My family knows the truth. We can't stop people saying whatever they're going to say."
He also said Child Protective Services has investigated the disappearance -- and cleared them.
"They've been out here, they've cleared everything, so all the kids are here at the house. They've been inside, they've inspected everything, everything's fine."
Before Amber returned from the hospital, her dad said he installed new locks on the door so she can't wander away again.
Newaygo County Undersheriff Brian Boyd refused to discuss details of the investigation, though he acknowledged that detectives searched the area where Amber was found and collected evidence. He would not say whether they found tire tracks.
He said he hopes to finish the investigation by Monday or Tuesday and forward the findings to the prosecutor.
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