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Sex offenders questioned in missing girl case

Search on for 13-year-old who disappeared in Florida

Sarah Michelle Lunde, 13, was last seen on Saturday.
• Sheriff's Office: Lunde missing person releaseexternal link
Age: 13, born August 30
Ht., Wt.: 5-foot-3; 176 lbs.
Description: White; brown hair below shoulders usually worn in ponytail; hazel eyes, last seen in white T-shirt, orange and blue basketball shorts; green cast on left wrist
Missing Persons

RUSKIN, Florida (CNN) -- A registered sex offender jailed on an assault charge was being questioned in the disappearance of a 13-year-old Florida girl missing since the weekend, the Hillsborough County sheriff said late Wednesday afternoon.

"He has our attention," Sheriff David Gee told reporters, but added, "We are not going to label him at this time."

He said authorities still were investigating the criminal history of David Onstott, 36, who knows the mother of teenager Sarah Michelle Lunde.

Onstott was arrested Tuesday night in Apollo Beach, Florida, north of the girl's hometown of Ruskin, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the sheriff's office said.

According to deputies, Onstott threatened a man with a screwdriver during a heated argument.

Authorities had been prepared to release Onstott on bail when they discovered he is named in a Michigan warrant charging him with driving while intoxicated, the sheriff said. Because of that, he remains in the Hillsborough County Jail.

According to Gee, authorities have accounted for and are questioning 23 of 24 sex offenders living in the area south of Tampa, where Lunde lives. The other offender is believed to have moved out of the region before Lunde's disappearance.

The sheriff could not explain why Onstott is not listed on Florida's online sex offender registry.

The girl's father lives in Zephyr Hills, Florida, and is not in close contact with the family. There appears to be no connection between him and his missing daughter, Gee said.

Lunde's mother, at a police press conference, begged people to report any information, even rumors, to the sheriff's office.

"All we want to do is bring Sarah home safely," Kelly May told reporters.

Assisting with the search Wednesday, Gee said, were more than 100 law enforcement officers, about 110 volunteers, bloodhounds, divers and mounted police. They combed portions of about 15 square miles of the county, which the sheriff described as "tough territory," dissected by the Manatee River, tributaries and thick brush.

A national missing person alert went out for the girl Tuesday, but there is insufficient information for an Amber Alert, sheriff's Capt. Craig Latimer said. There is no description of an abductor or a vehicle.

Fliers have been distributed in English and Spanish.

"We're very concerned about this; this is very out of context for Sarah to be missing like this," Latimer told reporters. "She has gone missing before but has always returned."

Lunde has spent time in the state's foster care system, law enforcement officials said. Both her mother and her father have criminal histories.

According to state records, Lunde's father has been arrested for bigamy, solicitation of prostitution and aggravated battery. Her mother has been arrested several times for passing bad checks, records show.

According to information on the sheriff's Web site, Lunde was reported missing by her mother Monday afternoon.

Her older brother told authorities that Sarah came home Saturday night unexpectedly after attending a church function, according to Rick Morera, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The brother went out that night and when he came home early Sunday, his sister was gone, Morera said.

The girl has a green cast on her left wrist, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Web site. She is described as white, 5-foot-3-inches and about 176 pounds.

Last month, a registered sex offender living in Homosassa, Florida, was arrested in connection with the abduction and killing of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who lived across the street from him. (Full story)

Ruskin is about 10 miles south of Tampa on the Tampa Bay coast, and 100 miles south of Homosassa.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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