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October 28. 2013 10:40PM

Abigail Hernandez' mother: 'I keep thinking, she'll be found'


This is the image that will appear on an Interstate 93 billboard in Boston alerting drivers to Abigail Hernandez’s disappearance. 

CONWAY — Zenya Hernandez's life has been turned upside-down.

Since her daughter, 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez, disappeared after leaving school on Oct. 9, she's been on an emotional roller coaster.

"We try to keep our hopes up. Every day they say they have new clues, but nothing ever comes from it," Zenya Hernandez said Monday at her home.

"I keep thinking, she'll be found, I need to keep up hope, but then I think about the terrible things that could have happened. It's tough, each day."

She is comforted, she said, by the continued strong support from the community."It's amazing, overwhelming, most of these people helping me I don't even know," she said.

The newest show of support, a 4-by-20-foot billboard with Abigail's picture and law enforcement contact information, will be on display starting today. Signs By J of Dorchester, Mass., will be erecting the billboard so that drivers in both the northbound and southbound sides of Interstate 93 in the Dorchester area will see it, said store owner Mike Cohen.

"We'll keep that billboard up until Abby comes home," said Cohen, whose company has provided signs and graphics to help cases of missing persons in past years, and is helping in this case, though authorities say they have no reason to believe she is in Massachusetts.

Zenya Hernandez said she is also thankful for the more than 500 people who came to a vigil for Abigail Saturday night, and for residents who have taken up the cause of finding Abigail. There are now numerous web and Facebook pages dedicated solely to Abby's safe return.

Thousands of dollars have been raised by local residents and businesses to support Zenya, who is a nurse at the county nursing home. She now lives alone, on unpaid leave from work. Her other daughter, Sarah, is in college; Abigail's father lives elsewhere.

Authorities have offered a $20,000 reward for any information leading them to Abigail, an arrest in her case, or any other information that helps authorities find her.

"Someone has to come forward and help us find her," Zenya Hernandez said, with a defiant tone she expressed at the vigil Saturday. "Someone knows what happened."

The disappearance of Abigail "came out of nowhere," she said.

She was last seen walking away from Kennett High School after school. Her last text message was to her boyfriend at around 2:53 p.m. that day, when she sent him a heart. After that, the phone, a white iPhone in a pink case, made one last contact with a cell tower on Cranmore Mountain at 3:07 p.m. The phone was likely updating itself, investigators say, but for some reason, it then went dead.

"I don't understand it; she was supposed to be coming home," Zenya Hernandez said. "She was a good girl and she had things to do. We had plans."

Abigail is also a very happy girl, her mother said. She had a Monday cleaning job that she looked forward to each week. She and her mother had made plans for the weekend of Oct. 12, Abigail's 15th birthday.

"I never thought she ran away, that didn't make sense, she had so much going on in her life ... she seemed really happy that day, too.

We were making plans for the weekend to be together," Hernandez said.

The waiting each day, with no resolution to the case, is frightening, she said.

"It's been three weeks now; it's hard to keep up hope. Everybody says keep up the hope, and I try, but it's hard," she said.

Authorities will continue their exhaustive search in "targeted" areas, said Kieran Ramsey, the FBI agent from Boston who is handling the FBI's side of the search.

As of Monday, there were no new developments in the case. Authorities say there is still no evidence of how and why Abigail disappeared.

"We're continuing our work on this case. Our hope is to find Abigail and bring her home," Ramsey said.

dseufert@newsote.com


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