Skin-like material was discovered this morning on Good Harbor Beach, less than a mile south of the place from which Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison disappeared nearly three weeks ago.
Although Gloucester detective Steve Mizzoni said he was virtually certain the material was not from a human, it was sent to the state medical examiner for forensic examination.
The discovery was made by the Gloucester Department of Public Works beach sweeper, who clears the rack each morning and found the material in seaweed.
According to Mizzoni, the DPW was working near the northern end of Good Harbor, which is separated from Long Beach by the Brier Neck granite outcrop.
The toddler was last seen at the northern end of Long Beach, which stretches about one third of a mile until it meets Cape Hedge Beach. The tide pushes southward, down the southeast back shore of Cape Ann past Emerson Point at the tip of Brier Neck toward Good Harbor. At low tide, a sandbar from the beach to Salt Island creates a closed harbor.
"They found some skin, but it doesn't appear that the remains are human," said Mizzoni, who studied them after they were pulled from the sand by the DPW's Charlie Nicastro early this morning. "It looks like dark bedsheet, shredded, or the membrane from some animal — a seal or a deer — that has been in the ocean for months."
Mizzoni said that Rockport Police were also called in upon the discovery of the material on Good Harbor Beach.
Caleigh Harrison, age 2 years, 9 months, disappeared during an April 19 visit to Long Beach with her four-year-old old sister, Elizabeth, and her mother Allison Hammond of Gloucester, April 19 on a windy day near the bridge over a creek separating Long Beach from Cape Hedge Beach to the north.
The events surrounding Caleigh's disappearance remain uncertain. While not ruling out foul play, Massachusetts state Police have said there is no evidence pointing to an abduction, despite claims by Caleigh's parents, Hammond and Anthony Harrison, that 4-year-old Elizabeth has talked of seeing a man on the beach who may have taken her little sister. Police have interviewed Elizabeth both in the immediate aftermath of Caleigh's disappearance, and two days later, with the aid of an investigative child psychologist.
Police, however, also called up a search of the waters off Long Beach April 26, after a week's worth of scouring the area yielded no apparent clues; authorities also briefly revived the search last Friday after a resident's dog began barking and digging in an area of the beach near where Caleigh disappeared, but that response also yielded nothing.
We will update this story here at gloucestertimes.com if any more information becomes available.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at email@example.com.