By Ryan Dean
Louisiana, Mo (KSDK) -- A miracle, is defined as an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers. That's what the dictionary says, but if you ask the people of Louisiana, Missouri what a miracle is, they'll point to Alisa Maier. It may not feel like it, but it has been one year since the Alisa Maier abduction.
"I can't believe it has been a year. It feels like yesterday," Alisa's Father, Dave Maier said.
It was July 5th, 2010, when four-year-old Alisa was taken while playing next to her brother Blake. Mom and Dad were inside the house when Blake ran in to tell them what happen.
"He's the one who saw the guy pickup Alisa, put her in the car and take off," Dave Maier said.
Shortly after Alisa was taken, the news of the disappearance spread throughout Missouri, and then nation-wide. The FBI was called in to help. It didn't take long for investigators to figure out this kidnapping was no hoax.
"It was apparent that this was a child abduction as soon as we interviewed Blake. Blake was six years old. He told us 100 percent accurate information," said Supervisory Special Agent, Daniel Netemeyer.
Missing posters and road blocks went up all over town, Alisa's grandfather, made this plea to the public;
"If you know anything, call this guy back here, call the FBI, they will give you the number. You just call them because I want this baby back," said Roy Allen, back in July 2010.
The people of Louisiana, came together to pray that Alisa would be found alive. Then, just hours later, their prayers were answered.
A little more than 24 hours after she went missing, Alisa was found wondering at a Fenton car wash, nearly 85 miles away from home. Her hair had been cut and her clothes changed. Witnesses saw a dark colored car drive away from the scene.
Police, back in Louisiana told Alisa's dad that his daughter had been found.
"I was expecting to see a body," Dave Maier said. Instead it was a picture of Alisa that police took to verify it was indeed the missing girl.
"Chief of police was there, and the FBI, and we were just all overjoyed because it don't happen that way, not very often," said Dave Maier.
The following day, police found Alisa's kidnapper by tracing the new clothes she was wearing to a Walmart in Troy, Missouri. Police say surveillance video, showed Paul Smith, a sex offender buying the clothes.
When officers confronted Smith at a home in Hawk Point, located in Lincoln County, he shot and killed himself. Police say two days before Smith abducted Alisa, he shot and killed a business owner in Hawk Point during a burglary.
A lot of questions remained, one of them; why did Smith decide to let Alisa go?
"I think what happened with Mr. Smith is he got scared. Everyone is looking for that girl, I have her, he had to make a choice," said St. Louis County Police Chief, Tim Fitch
Police who worked the Alisa Maier case say it's one they will never forget.
"Being a part of bringing a child home an putting that child in the arms of a mother, there's no substitute for that," SSA Netemeyer said.
Alisa is now five-years-old, and will start kindergarten in the fall. Her hair is growing out, after being cut by Smith during the abduction. Police believe Smith was trying to make Alisa look like a boy.
Alisa's dad says the kidnapping hasn't really changed his daughter all that much. She's a little more shy around people she doesn't really know, but she is naturally shy.
She never talks about the abduction. Her parents don't know if that is because she doesn't remember or it's something she chooses to forget. When the day comes that she has questions, the Maier's say they won't hide anything from her. But right now, they're just focused on being a normal family.