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“It has been emotionally draining for us,” Chief opens up about Kirsten Hatfield case

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - Midwest city's police chief is opening up about the case that has haunted him for the last 18 years.

For almost two decades, Chief Brandon Clabes has been searching for answers in the disappearance of Kirsten Hatfield.

Thursday,  investigators continued their exhaustive search inside and outside the home of Kirsten's neighbor, Anthony Palma.

When the sun is up, investigators are working tirelessly searching for any clues.

This story begins in the summer of 1997.

Since then, investigators have waited 18 years for a break in the case.

Dogs were searching for her, then.

Dogs searching Thursday.

"I've always said, before I retire, I don't plan on retiring any time soon, but I said, before I left, I wanted to," Clabes said.

A promise to find the person who took Kirsten from her bedroom that night in May of 1997.

"We were just overwhelmed - lots of tears, lots of emotion," Clabes said. "But, when you think back, you're a parent, but you can understand the news that we got that day, and we just never thought we'd see it."

Clabes was a detective when the Midwest city second grader went missing.

For him, this case cut deeper.

"Obviously, I'm a parent. I have a 15 and a half year old girl, daughter," Clabes said. "And, it was shocking to me."

That shock turned to hope after a DNA match from Kirsten's window sill and panties led them to Palma.

"This is like a check off your bucket list," Clabes said. "Now, the next step is we want to find her, and it has been emotionally draining for us."

An item on the list, to help find this little girl and bring her home, no matter what it takes.

Investigators are expected to continue searching Palma's house in Friday morning.