'No stone unturned' to find North Conway teen missing since Wednesday
CONWAY — Dozens of investigators, some from as far away as Virginia, plan to continue searching through the weekend for a North Conway teen missing since Wednesday.
New Hampshire Associate Attorney General Jane Young, in a news conference Friday night outside the Conway Police Department, emphasized the search for 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez remains a missing person case. Today is her birthday.
"We don't give up hope of finding her until there is a reason to give up hope," said Young. "We don't have that reason right now. We are leaving no stone unturned in this search."
While the case is categorized as a missing person investigation, when asked if the possibility of foul play had been ruled out Young admitted, "Nothing has been ruled out at this point."
A team of FBI investigators experienced in child abduction cases was on the ground in Conway Friday, joining dozens of law enforcement and six teams of Fish and Game officers on land, in the air and on local waterways looking for the girl, who was last seen about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday walking home from Kennett High School.
Investigators said evidence found at Hernandez' 86 Village Way home indicates she arrived there after school, based on a track found by a New Hampshire State Police dog, but she was gone when her mother Zenya Hernandez came home later that day. Her mother called police.
A moment of silence was held at last night's high school football game between Kennett and Windham. Conway police and three FBI investigators were also present to take any information attendees may have on Hernandez.
Kieran L. Ramsey, the FBI's Supervisory Special Agent in New Hampshire, on Friday asked the public to call the FBI's tip line - 1-800-CALLFBI - or leave information online at tips.fbi.gov, or contact Conway police with any bit of information, however insignificant it may seem, concerning Hernandez.
Ramsey released an FBI missing person poster of Hernandez, featuring the last known photo of her, caught by a security camera at the high school Wednesday. In it, she is wearing black leggings/yoga pants, a gray striped multicolored sweater and black leather boots. Investigators say Abigail is 5-foot-4-inches tall and weighs 118 pounds with brown hair and eyes.
Ramsey said Friday night investigators have received "dozens and dozens" of tips on Hernandez.
"Every one of them is evaluated and followed up," said Ramsey. "No tip is too small or insufficient."
On Friday, investigators were stopping cars along North South Road in Conway, handing out posters with information about the missing teen to drivers.
Young stressed that investigators are still trying to establish a time line of where the teen was on Tuesday and Wednesday. She said members of Abigail's family have been extremely cooperative.
The FBI has brought in investigators from as far away as Virginia to assist in the search.
"We expect to have air support and anticipate going back in the water to search this weekend," said Young. "We are continuing to monitor cell phone activity and social media, looking for any sign of her."
Clear Channel Outdoor has donated digital billboard space to help the FBI locate Hernandez. Pictures of Hernandez will be visible this weekend in Massachusetts. Authorities said a lack of these types of digital billboards in New Hampshire hinders similar outreach efforts in the Granite State.
A check of the Department of Justice's Amber alert website shows the site was up and running Friday, despite the partial government shutdown. Local authorities have not used the system to issue an alert for, saying the system can be used only for certain circumstances.
New Hampshire's version of the Amber Alert system is used only when authorities believe someone under 18 been abducted and is in danger, and when authorities have something specific they're asking the public to look for. Jim Van Dongen, spokesman for the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says that usually means asking people to look for a certain car or license plate.
Conway Police Chief Edward Wagner said his only concern is for the girl's safe return.
"Abby, if you are out there and hear this message, please call the police department, your family or friends so we can conclude this investigation and have you safely return," he said.
The investigation also included witness interviews, a search of Abigail's home and the surrounding area and traces of phone calls. A small body of water, Pudding Pond, just three feet deep and located east of Hernandez's home on Village Way, was also searched. Her name was submitted to the National Crime Information Center as a missing person.
Young said the next update on the investigation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, unless new developments warrant an earlier news conference.