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Newton teen last seen in 1980

Union Leader Correspondent

April 21. 2013 11:35PM
In the past, police have posted signs asking the public for help in the search for clues into the disappearance of Rachel Garden. The 15-year-old girl from Newton vanished in 1980. JASON SCHREIBER 

NEWTON - A $10,000 reward being offered for information into the disappearance of a Newton teenager who vanished 33 years ago remains unclaimed, but authorities aren't giving up hope that someone will one day step forward with the break they need.

Newton Police Chief Larry Streeter said police occasionally receive new information about the case, but so far Rachel Garden's disappearance remains a mystery.

"It's not uncommon to receive information about every six months," he said. "It's always good to refresh the public's mind and let them know it's still an active investigation."

The 15-year-old Garden was a student at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston when she disappeared on March 22, 1980, after stopping at Rowe's Corner Market on Route 108 in Newton to buy cigarettes. She left around 9 p.m. and was never seen again.

Peter Jewett, who owned the store at the time, has said he watched her walk across the street and that was the last he saw of her.

Authorities believe Rachel was wearing blue jeans, a two-toned blue ski parka, a plaid shirt with silver threads and brown lace-up shoes and was carrying a dark blue purse.

Police initially suspected that Garden may have been a runaway, but now believe that she was likely kidnapped and murdered.

Over the years, investigators have put up missing person posters with her name, photo, and details about the case in public locations in East Kingston, Kingston and Newton.

Police have searched by air and water and have dug up spots in Kingston, Newton and other nearby areas in hopes of finding skeletal remains.

"We do believe that Rachel will probably not be found alive, even though that would be what our wish would be," said Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr., whose department has been actively involved in the case for many years, along with Newton police and other agencies.

A local businessman, who has remained anonymous, donated the $10,000 reward in 2008 to be given out for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance or any other criminal act involved in the case.

"We are working with other law enforcement agencies in an attempt to bring this case to closure for the family and obviously for any criminal prosecution that could result. We will actively pursue all leads that come in and continue to investigate until this case is fully resolved," Briggs said.

Streeter said investigators had some "good leads" during their initial investigation, but nothing ever panned out.

"They had developed some strong persons of interest, but they were never able to put it completely together," he said. The last time police conducted a search in the case was in 2008, when divers searched Ice Pond, a small pond connected to Country Pond.

Anyone with information on Garden's whereabouts or anything that may be helpful in the investigation is urged to call the Newton Police Department at 382-6774 or the Kingston Police Department at 642-5742.

Streeter said all information will be forwarded to the state police Major Crime Unit.

State police and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department have also worked on the case.

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