Rockport Police, approached by the father of missing 2-year-old Gloucester girl Caleigh Harrison, have filed a report with Massachusetts child welfare authorities regarding potential neglect and safety concerns for her 4-year-old sister in the custody of their mother.
But Allison Hammond, the mother of Caleigh and her 4-year-old sister Elizabeth — all of whom were on an outing at Long Beach April 19 when Caleigh disappeared — adamantly denies she did anything that day or otherwise to put the children in harm's way.
"My children are my life," Hammond said this morning in an interview with the Times, speaking of Caleigh in the present tense. She and other family members believe there is a very real chance Caleigh was abducted from the beach and still alive, and that Caleigh did not fall into or otherwise go into the water shortly after high tide. Hammond also said the girls' location on the beach was being misportrayed in the media, and that they were not precariously near the shore or Saratoga Creek and the nearby footbridge.
Hammond said she "almost welcomes" the child welfare investigation, adding that she "has nothing to hide." She said she feels the investigation will prove her to be "a mother who lives for her kids."
"Believe me, I cry,” she told the Times. “I cry all the time. But not in front of Lizzie, I can’t do that to Lizzie.”
Hammond confirmed that she received a phone call Thursday from Anthony Harrison, her estranged husband and Caleigh's father, expressing concern that "the state was going to take the kids." She said Anthony Harrison had contacted Rockport police and expressed that he was afraid that Elizabeth was not safe with Hammond because "she was not in the right frame of mind."
Hammond said she believes that Anthony Harrison may not have understod the ramifications of his actions, given that Rockport police are mandated by law to refer any such complaint to state child welfare officials to launch an investigation.
State police spokesman David Procopio said Thursday night there's no evidence foul play or neglect played a role in Caleigh Harrison's disappearance. He said the Department of Children and Families will decide whether to investigate her sister's welfare.
Caleigh's father and mother have reported over the last two weeks that 4-year-old Elizabeth now talks of seeing a "man on the beach" that may have taken her sister.
State Police, who are heading the investigation, say they have no evidence of that, and that ocean current tests — some carried out as recently as Wednesday — have shown Caleigh could have been swept out to sea.
For much more on this story and this morning's Times interview with Allison Hammond, look to tomorrow's print and online editions of the Glocuester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com. To have text updates ergarding this story sent to your mobile phone, sign up for the Times' free text-alert service on the gloucestertimes.com homepage.