ROCKPORT — Barring any new evidence found over the next few hours, Massachusetts State Police divers are poised to end their search for missing Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Ann Harrison this afternoon, one week after the toddler disappeared from Long Beach, police say.
Rockport Police Chief John "Tom" McCarthy emphasized that ending the sea search does not mean ending the investigation into Caleigh's disappearance. State police and Rockport police will continue looking into what Rockport McCarthy called "any legitimate leads."
"We're working hand in hand with the state police on this," said McCarthy.
While coming exactly a week after the little girl disappeared from the beach, where she had been playing with her 4-ear-old sister, Elizabeth, and her mother, Allison Hammond of Gloucester, the halting of the water search also comes a day after members of the Harrison family told a press conference outside their home that they're clinging to the belief that Caleigh may have been abducted, acknowledging that is also the chief scenario that gives them any hope for the girl ever coming home.
State police have emphasized throughout the week that, while the search for Caleigh has focused on the waters off Long Beach, the adjacent Cape Hedge Beach, and Milk Island just off the coastline, they have also not ruled out foul play. State Police spokesman David Procopio emphasized late Wednesday, however, that there is also no evidence of any abduction, and police never issued an Amber alert in the hours after Caleigh's disappearance.
Police today removed the "crime scene" tape that had blocked off access to the area of the beach from which Caleigh disappeared; Procopio had noted earlier, however, that the tape had only signified the area as a "potential crime scene," not a confirmed one.
Divers re-entered the water at 7 a.m. today, and are scheduled to remain searching until approximately 3 p.m. After that, however, the divers will not be returning to the waters around Long Beach in search of Caleigh.
Caleigh was playing on the beach where Long Beach meets Cape Hedge Beach at noon on Thursday, April 19, with her mother, Allison Hammond, and her sister Elizabeth, 4. Hammond told police she went to fetch a wayward ball, and when she returned, Caleigh was gone.
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