Two weeks after 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison disappeared from Long Beach in Rockport, her family is setting up a fund to cover the costs of searching for her after the official search ended last week.
"We want to keep this going," Caleigh's uncle, David Harrison Jr., said of the awareness regarding Caleigh's disappearance, and the family's hopes of still seeing her come home.
According to Harrison, the Harrison family has been printing fliers with recent pictures of Caleigh and passing them out to anyone who will take them, hoping that someone will have seen the little girl and that she was not pulled into the ocean on April 19.
"We've been making fliers like crazy. We are going to keep looking," said Harrison.
Initially, the family had a lot of company in the search; the Coast Guard, Massachusetts State Police, Rockport Police, Rockport Fire Department and the Environmental Police all scoured the area where Caleigh was last seen before she disappeared. The water off Long Beach was filled with boats and divers searching for the toddler, police dogs hunted along the land, helicopters passed over and over the beach, all hunting for the slightest clue.
Caleigh was playing at the spot where Long Beach meets Cape Hedge Beach with her mother, Allison Hammond, the family dog, Lucas, and her sister Elizabeth, 4. According to local and state police reports, Hammond left the girls to fetch a ball that had gone astray, and returned to find Caleigh gone.
The Coast Guard was the first to stop looking, with statements that the search was considered a recovery mission by April 20, and that the Coast Guard only participated in searches when there was hope that the person may be found alive. State police, who took over the investigation at 3 p.m. April 19, three hours after Caleigh was last seen, called off the search on April 27.
State police, however, have refused to release the details of the investigation, saying it is still ongoing. State police have also never ruled out foul play, though authorities also never issued an Amber Alert, which is sounded if there is evidence of an abduction.
With the ocean search turning up nothing, family members began to express the belief that Caleigh may have been abducted, that she was still alive and had never been in the water in the first place.
That idea is why the Harrison family made fliers and, according to Harrison, why the family has teamed up Mission for the Missing, a Boston-based group that assists in searches for missing people.
No one from Mission for the Missing returned phone calls Wednesday, but the phone number listed on the group's website went to a voicemail message that did not mention the group. Mission for the Missing is not listed on Guidestar.org, a website that lists non-profit organizations that file tax forms and evaluates the effectiveness of the charities.
According to the Mission for the Missing website, its founders are Alan Tate, a private investigator, and Maureen Hancock, who describes herself as a "certified Asian bodywork practitioner, Reiki master and spirit medium."
Harrison said money donated to the fund set up by the family would cover the costs of printing the fliers, with anything beyond that going to Mission for the Missing.
Harrison said the fund is not intended to solicit money, but is instead a way to use donations the family has already received.
"People have handed (Anthony Harrison, Caleigh's father) cash. People feel that that's how they can help," said Harrison.
Harrison said that — even if they are unable to find Caleigh, and if state Police are right to think she drowned in the ocean — by keeping her story in the public eye, the family can keep other children safe.
"It's all about raising awareness," Harrison said.
Donations can be sent to The Caleigh Harrison Relief Fund c/o Rockport National Bank, 4 Parker St., Gloucester, MA 01930.
Stephanie Bergman can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Caleigh Fund
Donations can be sent to The Caleigh Harrison Relief Fund, are of Rockport National Bank, 4 Parker St., Gloucester, MA 01930.