Shocked volunteers hunting for April Jones claim they are certain an outsider has targeted their community.
Many spoke openly of their despair today that a defenceless youngster could be taken from the heart of the community.
Others believe that the close-knit tranquil market town of Machynlleth must have been purposely targeted by an outsider.
The quiet Mid Wales town, 25 miles north of Aberystwyth, is regarded as crime-free.
The edge-of-town Bryn-y-Gog estate from where April was abducted sits in a self contained rural setting on the way to nowhere else.
“I cannot imagine that anyone local is responsible for this,” said shop owner Jacqueline Parsons, 53. “I would be amazed if it turned out to be anyone local. Everyone knows everyone here. You walk down the street and even if you don’t know someone’s name you speak to them.”
Barry Jones, 34, lives with his family on the same Bryn-y-Gog estate where April was playing yesterday before she was abducted.
“My own son, three-and-a-half, plays out on the estate with the other kids just like this,” he said.
“I know it sounds like a cliché but you just don’t expect something like this to happen around here.
“I’ve lived here all my life and you would never imagine something like this happening. Everybody knows everybody else.
“The Bryn-y-Gog estate isn’t on the way to anywhere else. If you go there you have to go there on purpose.”
Friend Bryan Whitehouse agreed: “You don’t pass the estate on the way to any where else. We are such a small community here and our kids are normally outside running around and are perfectly safe. Nothing ever happens here.”