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November 14, 2012

Caleigh search yields no new evidence

Beach search brings no signs of Caleigh

GLOUCESTER — Search teams turned up seal bones, bird skeletons and other debris, but no new evidence in the case of missing toddler Caleigh Harrison. In a renewed search for evidence, ignited after pink capri pants matching the description of those worn by Caleigh on the day of her disappearance were found last Friday on Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach, Caleigh’s parents, along with about 30 volunteers, five canine search teams, a former state forensic anthropologist, and a former FBI agent all walked area beaches from 11 a.m. to about 4 p.m., looking for clues.

”We’re looking for any kind of information we can find,” said Allison Hammond, Caleigh’s mother.

Mission for the Missing, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps locate missing persons, organized the volunteers to search a span of beaches including Good Harbor, Long Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, Pebble Beach and area inlets and marshes.

Mission for the Missing representatives said Tuesday’s was the largest search effort for Caleigh since those that followed her disappearance last April 19th, when the then 2-year, 9-month-old girl vanished from Rockport’s Long Beach while on an outing with her mother and her then-4-year-old sister Elizabeth.

At different times, the parents and other family members suggested Caleigh had been abducted, though police never found any evidence of that. Both Hammond and Anthony Harrison indicated they see the discovery of the pants as a hope for potential closure — and said they are now “accepting” that the discovery shows that Caleigh may have been lost to the sea.

”You don’t want to hope your daughter went in the water and drowned ... But at the same time it is what it is ... You do want closure,” Hammond told reporters.

Rockport Police Chief John “Tom” McCarthy has said the tattered shreds of pink capri pants — just seams, buttons, pockets and waistband still intact — were seen as “very, very similar” to those that the Gloucester toddler was wearing at the time of her disappearance, though Hammond, who has viewed the evidence, has been unable to say “with certainty” whether the pants were her daughter’s, McCarthy has said.

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