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15-year anniversary of the disappearance of LeeAnna Warner

On June 14, 2003, the Warner family’s world was turned upside down. 

What should have been a weekend filled with Father’s Day celebrations suddenly turned into a parents’ worst nightmare when 5-year-old LeeAnna Warner disappeared. 

"You know some days you’re strong, some days you’re not so strong," said Chris Warner, LeeAnna’s father.

It’s been 15 years since Warner saw his daughter LeeAnna, or Beaner, as they call her, but the memories of his little girl are as vivid now as they were then.

"Spunky, really spunky, outgoing. She loved people, loved elderly people. She just had a real free spirit."

After going to visit a friend down the street, she never returned home. 

"Nobody could believe it would happen in our community. Just out of thin air, she was gone," said Vern Manner, Chief of Police in Chisholm.

Manner was an investigator at the time of her disappearance and it’s something he thinks about often.

"Being in a small town, and an officer in a small town, you get to know everybody. So it really hits home and really makes you have personal feelings, even though you try to separate that with the job. You take a personal interest in solving this case and bringing closure to the family and the whole community for that matter."

A tragedy like this was unheard of in the small town of Chisholm.

But when it hit the Warner family, the community rallied.

"That meant everything because obviously in the beginning was the hardest time and to see that type of support was everything for us," said Warner. "And that support is still there today."

LeeAnna would be 20 years old now. Looking at her age progession photo is difficult for Warner.

"That’s hard, yeah, that’s hard. This isn’t something I normally look at." 

Years after her disappearance, the Warners moved out of town to try and find their new normal, but it wasn’t easy.

"Just separating from the home we were in and the memories we had with her being there, that was probably the hardest part. I know my wife really struggled because she had a fear of her coming home and her not being there. There was alot of issues with that."

Seeing his daughter again is always on Warner’s mind.

"That would be an extremely emotional moment. All of the emotions that would go through. The questions and the concerns and fears. What have you been through? Where do we go from here? How do we fix what you’ve been through? So, that’s a tough one," said Warner. "I try not to play too much into the emotional side of things. I think as a father, I try to stay with the facts."

Thousands of leads and 15 years later, there’s still no answers. 

"It’s frustrating not to have the answers, of course, but on the other side, with not having anything we still have hope," said Warner. "Without any hard evidence to say she’s no longer here, I mean she has to be somewhere."

Hope is something Warner says he’ll never let go of.

"If I was to let myself fall apart and not move forward and she was to come home tomorrow what would she come home to? That was a big driving factor for me to get back on my feet. You never forget, you never truly move on you just figure out how to live with the hand you’ve been dealt."

If LeeAnna can see this, her dad has a message for her.

"Go to law enforcement, go to whoever you have to so we can get you home. There’s plenty of people who know about you out there and they’ll do the right thing to get you back. That’s the biggest thing I can tell you is to go to law enforcement. Don’t be scared. Just go."

As the search for LeeAnna continues her family and investigators are asking for the public’s help. 

If you have any information please contact any of the numbers listed below:

Chisholm Police Department: (218) 254-7915

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (Minnesota): 1-651-793-7000


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