Police knock on 300 doors in NH child search

Posted July 29, 2011, at 7:36 p.m.

STEWARTSTOWN, N.H. — A new cellular phone tower is being put up in far northern New Hampshire so law enforcement officials investigating the disappearance of an 11-year-old girl can communicate better with each other, a member of the state attorney general’s office said Friday.

Celina Cass was last seen Monday night at her home computer in Stewartstown, a mile from the Canadian border. Jane Young of the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said Friday that investigators have knocked on about 300 doors in the area.

“That canvass will continue; it will expand,” she said at a news conference.

Authorities are following up on about 225 tips and will continue searching by air and on foot, she said. A dog trained to search in water also was used. The tower will help investigators communicate by instant message, she said.

“We simply don’t have a lot of answers in this case,” Young said.

FBI agent Kieran Ramsey said tips have come from as far away as North Carolina and Illinois. A new poster was distributed with several photos of Celina.

A family read a statement from Celina’s relatives, urging anyone with any information about her disappearance to come forward.

The family had their own message for Celina: “If you can hear this now, please know how much we love and we miss you. You are in our thoughts and in our prayers. We will not stop searching for you until you are back in our arms.”

Police have said there is no indication Celina ran away or that someone took her, though members of an FBI team that specializes in child abductions are among the numerous investigators working on the case.

Investigators were gathered at the Stewartstown Community School, and residents were being asked to wear pink and purple ribbons as a show of solidarity.

Shannon Towle, who runs a convenience store across the street from Cass’s home, said residents aren’t giving up hope.

“We’re going to have a vigil every night until we get her home,” she said.

Across the state line, detectives were going door-to-door in Canaan, Vt., on Friday, while others searched fields and a nearby lake. The Vermont State Police has sent troopers and Vermont’s crime scene van across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire to help process possible evidence, said spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro.

Age is a crucial variable in developing hypotheses about missing children, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

“She’s right at the cusp in a way that makes it challenging,” said Finkelhor, who has done extensive research on child homicide, missing and abducted children and family violence.

Children who run away are typically 12 or 13 or older, he said. Kidnapping by strangers is more frequent with pubescent and post-pubescent girls, but homicides of children Cass’s age are unusual, he said.

Celina is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs about 95 pounds and has hazel eyes and waist-length brown hair.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business