Members of Caleigh Ann Harrison's family told reporters this afternoon that they are clinging to their belief that the 2-year-old Gloucester toddler was abducted when she disappeared from Long Beach last Thursday, noting that a renewed Massachusetts State Police search in and near the water for the little girl has failed to turn up any clues.
But a state police spokesman noted that, while a resumed search effort in the water and along the shore today turned up no new leads, let alone answers, in the now week-old disappearance, there is also no evidence of an abduction or foul play.
While state police announced his afternoon that dive teams had left the water for the day, but would return and resume their own search this morning, members of Caleigh’s family — including her mother, Allison Hammond, and father, Anthony Harrison — hosted a press briefing on the steps of Anthony Harrison’s Washington Street home.
“We think we would have found her by now (if she had been pulled into the ocean),” said David Harrison Jr., uncle of Caleigh and a brother of her father. “That gives us hope that she could be found.”
“We think it’s very possible that somebody took her,” he added. “Not that we’re not saying the efforts in the water are unappreciated, it’s that if she is out there we want to make sure people know she could be out there.’”
To that end, David Harrison said the family has been handing out flyers with pictures of Caleigh in the hopes that someone would see her. Harrison acknowledged that the chance that Caleigh may have been abducted is essentially the only hope the family has that the little girl could possibly return home.
State Police spokesman David Procopio said, however, that there is no evidence of abduction.
“That investigation has yielded no evidence of abduction or foul play,” Procopio said, though state police have not been able to rule out foul play, either.
Massachusetts State Police, meanwhile, confirmed that divers suspended their search of the water off Long Beach, Cape Hedge Beach and around Milk Island at 3 p.m. A state police spokesman added, however, that they expect to re-enter the water tomorrow.
State Police spokesman Todd Nolan said that the opinion of the family has nothing to do with the way the State Police are investigating the disappearance. According to Nolan, the State Police "will consider any and all possibilities until they're ruled out." In that vein, while the search continues to focus on the water and beaches, police are also still examining the possibility of an abduction, and have not ruled out foul play.
Reading a statement written by the parents, David Harrison said, "We are not giving up hope of finding our little girl. Caleigh is our beautiful, wonderful little girl. Please help us bring her home."
David Harrison Sr., Caleigh's grandfather, said the family hopes Caleigh will return, and believes an abduction would allow for that possibility.
"We have nothing to lose," he said.
We will continue to update this story here at gloucestertimes.com if any new developments materialize; For more on this story, look to tomorrow's print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.
Stephanie Bergman can contacted at 978-283-7000 x3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org