A grim search is underway tonight in French Settlement, Louisiana for 13-year-old Kaitlin Marie Aydell. Kaitlin disappeared from the small community that sits between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on Thursday, February 1. She apparently vanished just after getting off her school bus.

Around 3 a.m. Friday, the Livingston Parish (La) sheriff’s department arrested Mark Sterling Lewis, age 39. The ex-con is related to Kaitlin Aydell by marriage and lives with his wife in a mobile home behind the girl’s family residence. According to this article in WBRZ’s The Advocate, Lewis allegedly lied to detectives who were searching for Kaitlin. Lewis has been charged with one count of obstruction of justice.

Kaitlin Aydell had a MySpace page. Though the Advocate states that Kaitlin is a 7th grader and only 13, she gave her age as 16 in her profile. No link will be given for the profile now due to Kaitlin’s actual age and the probable age of her friends.

Kaitlin had obviously done some work on her profile. She’d “pimped” it with a white, pink and black-striped background, and established a unique URL, something MySpace users can choose to do if they don’t want to keep the membership number issued when a user first registers to use the site.

In her “About Me” section, Kaitlin wrote:

I’m really cute* I have blond hair with blue eyes* I love to play basketball and softball and football . . .

Under “Who I’d Like to Meet,” Kaitlin’s answer was, in a way, touching:

I would like to meet the boy of my dreams* He should be super hot* not too trashy* sweet* really nice to my friends*

Kaitlin’s “general interests” were boys, shopping, basketball, and softball.

Comments left no question that this was the missing Kaitlin Aydell’s MySpace page. A girl named Megan B. posted a poem she’d written for her friend:

Prayers are said,
for you alone.
We’ll stand in silence,
til’ you come home.
We miss you much.
You know it true.
But no matter what happens,
We’ll ALWAYS love you!

Mark Sterling Lewis’s arrest early Friday was not his first brush with the law.

It was late September, 1995, and a 22-year-old woman was leaving a shopping mall in East Baton Rouge. About the time she noticed she had a flat, a man approached her and offered to fix it.

The man fixed the flat and then asked the woman for a ride.

Perhaps understandably, the woman was willing to return a favor, but as she and the good samaritan drove she realized he didn’t seem to have any place to go. When the young woman refused to drive any further, the man held a screwdriver to her throat.

Luckily, she escaped and was able to flag down another motorist. The abductor took off in the woman’s car.

The good samaritan turned screwdriver-wielding kidnapper was Mark Sterling Lewis.

Lewis was was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, auto theft, and felony theft. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison, but 5 years were suspended.

In the end, Mark Sterling Lewis got a grand total of two years for his seemingly calculated but ultimately unsuccessful attack on the woman in Baton Rouge.

Tonight the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab is in possession of Mark Lewis’s 2006 Chevy pickup, and they are combing it for evidence that might link the convicted kidnapper and thief to Kaitlin Aydell.

And late in the night, Kaitlin’s friends and relatives are looking at her profile, and leaving messages, young voices echoing in the ether:

. . . i love and miss you so much. i just want you to come home safely. although it may be distant, you’re my little cousin and i love you so much darling. . .

Anyone with pertinent information concerning Kaitlin Aydell or her location can call the Detective Division of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office at (225) 686-2241 ext. 345 or (225) 686-2241 ext. 501.

Mainstream media sources for this blog entry:

(Steve Huff is the author of the popular True Crime Blog. The preceding entry was originally published there.)

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