The day after the father of missing Gloucester 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison told a CNN Headline News television audience that Caleigh's 4-year-old sister Elizabeth has talked of seeing "a man in the beach" who may have taken her sister, Rockport police responded to what they said was reported as a potential 'lead" at Long Beach, from which the little girl disappeared.
But police found nothing and quckily cleared the scene, and Massachusets State Police continued to emphasize they have come upon no evidence of any abduction in the case.
Speaking of 4-year-old Elizabeth, who was with Caleigh when she vanished from Long Beach on April 19, Anthony Harrison, the girls' father, told the "Nancy Grace Show" Wednesday that "she mentions a man."
"It's a little bit scattered because she is four years old," he continued, "but she did, after a while, mention a man on the beach that took her sister," Harrison said.
Previously, members of the Harrison family said they believed Caleigh may have been abducted largely because the extensive search of the water near where she disappeared had turned up nothing. State Police have emphasized since the disappearance that could not rule out foul play, but they also never issued an Ambert alert regarding any evidence of an abduction.
State Police spokesman David Procopio reiterated this morning that, while abduction cannot be 100 percent ruled out, there is no evidence to support that theory.
"We thoroughly investigated the potential for abduction," Procopio said in an email to the Times. "As we told reporters when we suspended the water search, we found no evidence to support the abduction theory. That does not mean that we can say with 100 percent certainty that foul play did not occur, only that we have found no evidence of it — including no evidence of a mysterious man on the beach."
Rockport Police did respond to investigate what they said was a lead on Long Beach this evening, but quickly cleared the scene.
State Police today also released a “Missing Child” poster bearing Caleigh’s picture and other information, while reiterating that there has been no evidence of abduction in this case.
“The thoughts of the Massachusetts State Police and the Rockport Police Department remain with Caleigh’s family, and we remain dedicated to finding answers about what happened to their dear little girl,” Procopio said in an email to the Times.
Little Elizabeth Harrison was interviewed by police multiple times, including shortly after Caleigh's disappearance and then two days later, when she was interviewed Saturday, April 21, by an investigator with child psychology training. Family members had said previously that police had not shared with them what Elizabeth may have told the child psychologist; earlier reports had indicated that Elizabeth had told investigators she did not know what happened, or could not remember.
Caleigh Harrison disappeared from Long Beach shortly after noon on Thursday, April 19, after she, Elizabeth, and their mother Allison Hammond had gone there with the family dog, Lucas. At some point, with the two girls playing on the beach, Hammond left for an estimated 1-2 minutes to retrieve a ball that had gone over a nearby wall; when she turned back, Caleigh was gone.
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Stephanie Bergman can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.