MISSING CHILD: Police searching for 5-year-old last seen in Ames

Authorities in Story County are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a five-year-old girl who has been missing for approximately two months.

According to Ames Police Sergeant Amber Christian, 5-year-old Avery Lydia Doherty is thought to be with her non-custodial mother, Esther Bender. “We would like to speak with Esther so that we can locate Avery,” Christian explained. “At this point, we really want to push this message out.”

Christian noted that Bender, who may also be identifying herself by her maiden name, Yoder, was previously a custodial parent, but that is not currently the case.

Esther Bender (right) is pictured holding Avery Doherty (left), who is considered missing by authorities. (Photo: Ames Police Department)

According to court documents, an Emergency Custody Order was issued by a judge in October. That order indicates that Avery’s father, Brandon Doherty of Missouri, received a letter from Ames Christian School on October 25 stating that Avery was “withdrawn from school on October 13” and that “no request for records has been received for a new school”.

Court documents further claim that Doherty followed up at Bender’s home in Ames on October 26 to find that Bender and Avery had “moved out”.

Although no amber alert has been issued for Avery, police are requesting any leads the public may have regarding her whereabouts. Regarding Avery’s well-being, the court order states the following: “By a preponderance of evidence, the Court determined that [Avery] was imminently likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this state.”

“We have no way of knowing [if Avery is in danger],” Christian told StoryCounty.News. “Her mother has not had any communication with anybody from law enforcement. She has not had any communication with her family. That is obviously concerning to us.

“The only way we can be certain about Avery’s welfare is to see her in person.”

Avery is reportedly 4’5 and approximately 45 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Ames PD at 515-239-5133. Anonymous reports can also be made by calling 515-239-5533.

One Comment

  1. Stacy said:

    This is a parents worst nightmare…..even if it’s with a non-custodial parent and not a stranger. Let Avery go and turn yourself in

    December 12, 2023

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