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Investigators focus on missing Balto. Co. girl's social media use

Investigators hone in on social media activity of a missing 12-year-old girl from Baltimore Co.

Investigators are analyzing the social media activity of a missing 12-year-old girl from the Perry Hall area, saying she has a history of communicating with men online.

The search for Jasmine Leighlin Baker intensified Thursday as authorities said bloodhounds searched various locations and members of the public called in dozens of tips. The FBI and the Maryland State Police are assisting with the Baltimore County police investigation into the sixth-grader's disappearance.

Officials say Jasmine was last seen at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when she left her home in the 4200 block of Soth Ave. for her usual walk to Perry Hall Middle School, but never made it to class.

Detectives said they have determined she has communicated with men, including men in other states, through an XBox Live and iPod Touch, but do not know whether she had contact with anyone in recent weeks.

Thursday afternoon, the girl's relatives and family friends gathered at her home, where large posters with her photos hung in the windows. "Missing" fliers were posted all over the community, on stop signs and telephone poles and inside local businesses.

Her maternal grandmother, Brenda Bittner, said the ordeal has left her feeling "numb."

"Like I'm in a cloud — like somebody needs to wake me up, and I'm in a bad dream," Bittner said.

She said the family has been touched by an outpouring of local support; residents have brought food to the home and distributed posters around the area.

"I have no idea what we would do if it wasn't for the community," Bittner said.

Authorities asked anyone who knows Jasmine through social media to contact police as soon as possible. Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said investigators are looking into the possibility that she's with someone she met online, but that is not the only angle they are pursuing.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped review her social media profile, Armacost said.

"It is part of the investigation — to look at her social media activity to see who she was talking with, and to see if she gave any clues as to where she might be," she said.

County police say they have received about 50 tips, but none have led to the girl. Bloodhounds searched her neighborhood, the area around her father's Baltimore home, and all locations mentioned by tipsters. Investigators also checked with hotels in White Marsh and reviewed surveillance footage from area businesses.

The girl has never run away before, Armacost said. She did not take a phone, charger or extra clothing when she left for school.

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan canceled a celebratory event that was scheduled for Perry Hall on Thursday.

Hogan spokeswoman Hannah Marr said he felt it was inappropriate told hold a celebration in light of the girl's disappearance. Also, the event had been scheduled for a shopping center across the street from her middle school, and the campaign did not want to interfere with the investigation, she said.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said residents are concerned and have asked him how they can help.

"Perry Hall's a very tight-knit community," said Marks, a Republican who lives in Perry Hall. "A lot of people are concerned. … Although it's a large community, it has a small-town feeling."

Jasmine is described as white, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and weighing 175 pounds. She has blue eyes and long brown hair with blond and red streaks in it. She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a brown jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Baltimore County Police Department at 410-307-2020.

Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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