December 07. 2013 9:09PM

Word of Abby's letter spurs tips of no use

Sunday News Correspondent


CONWAY - As police expected, tips have come in since investigators held a news conference Friday to release new information in the case of 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez, who has been missing since Oct. 9.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young said Saturday that investigators had "a number of tips" come in after authorities announced that Hernandez, a freshman at Kennett High School, had written a letter to her mother, Zenya, almost two weeks after she had been last seen.

Dated Oct. 22, the letter was postmarked Oct. 23 and received by Zenya Hernandez in Conway on Nov. 6. Young said the letter at first gave investigators hope, but has so far not brought them any closer to locating Abigail, who they say is in "grave" danger.

The tips received Friday and Saturday "did not produce any new information," Young said.

Law enforcement officers immediately followed up on the tips, which "were not all confined to the Conway area" in origin, she said. Thousands of tips have been investigated by authorities thus far.

"There is no change," Young said. "But we'd rather have all the information that's out there and have the leads not be fruitful than to not have the tips at all."

Authorities have not detailed the letter's origin or content, but said "the tone" of the letter is consistent with Abigail's writing. Authorities also said they have accounted for the delay in the letter being postmarked and Abigail's mother receiving it, but would not disclose the reason.

Investigators did not initially disclose the letter because they first needed to run tests on it - including DNA, handwriting and fingerprint analysis - to confirm its authenticity, Young said Friday.

Noting that Abigail has no independent financial means, FBI Special Agent Kieran Ramsey said Friday "our worst fear right now is that, though she could have left willingly, someone may now be coercing her or someone may be manipulating her."

Meanwhile, volunteers continued their work spreading Abigail's image on Facebook and websites across the country.

Paul Kirsch, who has been leading many of the volunteer efforts, said volunteers will be vigilant in getting Abigail's name, photo and story out to the world in hopes that someone with information about her whereabouts will come forward.

"There have been a lot of tremendous efforts to help bring Abby home, but we will only consider all of the efforts successful once Abby is home in mom and Sarah's arms," Kirsch said.

"We ask everyone to keep their efforts going looking for her and sharing her information with everyone they can and to keep reporting any tips or sightings to the FBI," he said.

Anyone with information that could help find Abigail is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.