By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — A pair of pants described as similar to those worn by 2-1/2-year-old Caleigh Harrison the day she disappeared from Rockport's Long Beach last spring has been recovered along Good Harbor Beach, and both Rockport and Massachusetts State Police are trying to confirm whether they are, in fact, hers.
Rockport Police Chief John "Tom" McCarthy told the Times this afternoon that the pants were found at the Rockport end of Good Harbor Beach late last week, and that they are "very, very similar" to the pink pants that little Caleigh was wearing the day she disappeared while on an outing with her mother, Allison Hamond of Gloucester, her then- 4-year-old sister Elizabeth, and the family dog.
McCarthy, however, added that Hammond has viewed the recovered pants, but that she has not be able to "confirm with certainty" that they are Caleigh's.
McCarthy said that the pants washed ashore at Good Harbor, torn and entangled in pieces of lobster gear. The discovery came after a day or two after a nor'easter had pounded Gloucester, Good Harbor Beach and Cape Ann. A source who has been close to the Harrison and Hammond families indicated Monday that police are seeking to carry out DNA testing in an effort to confirm whether the pants are Caleigh's.
Caleigh disappeared from the far northern end of Long Beach near Cape Hedge Beach on April 19. Hammond has told police that she was with the girls on the beach, but left for perhaps a minute or two to retrieve a ball that had gone over the beach wall while the family was playing with the family dog.
Massachusetts State Police, Rockport Police and the U.S. Coast Guard carried out intensive searches for days after Caleigh's disappearance — and family members of Hammond and Caleigh's father, Anthony Harrison, who is estranged from Hammond, carried out intensive seraches as well, looking into, at one point, a claim raised by Hammond and reportedly by 4-year-old Elizabeth that Caleigh may have bee abducted.
But, while searching nearby Long Beach buildings early on for any trace of an abduction or abductor, police essentially focused their probe on the premise that, during Hammond's brief absence, Caleigh had gotten into the water, and was carried away on a day when officials warned of severe riptides in the area.
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