YELLOW RIBBONS ARE FOR SALE at Mountain View Community in Ossipee meant to raise both funds and awareness of missing North Conway teenager Abigail Hernandez. The ribbon idea was started by physical therapist Andrea Azzarito and was quickly taken up by residents Susan Strauch and Dotti Tufts with help from other residents. Over 200 ribbons were made and are available at the front desk at MVC. All proceeds will be given to Abigail's mother Zenya who works as a nurse at MVC. Pictured here are MVC resident Susan Strauch and social worker Lisa Howard. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
October 17, 2013CONWAY — As of press time (Oct. 15) the search was still on, and in the seventh day, for a missing 15-year-old from North Conway, Abigail "Abby" Hernandez. The community continued to hold onto the hope that she would be located soon and brought safely back home.
The news of her disappearance on Wednesday, Oct. 9, spread quickly on news channels and social media sites. A Facebook page "Help.Find.Abigail.Hernandez" is set up and nearly 3,500 people have joined the site to read regular updates on the status of the search and to offer support and spread the news in hopes of helping to find her.
Abigail is described on the FBI missing person poster as being five feet four inches tall, weighing 118 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes and light olive complexion. She was last seen in the area of Kennett High School in Conway around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 9.
Abigail's mother, Zenya Hernandez, has been employed as a per diem nurse at Mountain View Community in Ossipee for two years. Residents and staff there immediately set to work to also help get the word out about the missing girl and to offer support to Zenya. They made hundreds of yellow ribbons marked "Abby" and the ribbons are for sale at the front office of the nursing home for whatever amount of donation the purchaser can afford to give. Additionally, staff is collecting cash and packaged food donations for Abby's family to help offset living expenses while they focus their efforts on finding Abby. Mountain View Community is located at the Carroll County Complex on County Farm Road and their phone number is 539-7511.
Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies descended on Conway within hours of the report of Abby's disappearance and have used Conway Police Station as their command center where search efforts are organized and a daily press briefing is held.
While officials have kept the public abreast of the status of the search, they have not given out much concrete information. Jane Young, New Hampshire Associate Attorney General, said Oct. 11 that officials "have no evidence as we stand here today that this is foul play." That same day FBI agents were stationed on the North-South Road and, in a mandatory roadblock, were handing out fliers and asking motorists if they have any information into Abby's disappearance.
In anticipation of the thousands of travelers that were headed to New Hampshire for the Columbus Day weekend, officials partnered with Clear Channel Communications to broadcast Abby's photo on digital billboards along the highway in Lawrence, Worcester, and Boston, Massachusetts.
Young said the search was continuing by air, by water, and by land and multiple agencies including FBI, NH State Police, NH Fish and Game, NH Attorney General's Office, Carroll County Attorney's Office, Secret Service, and local police were working together, scouring tips and trying to put the "pieces of the puzzle together."
"The only think we want from this is Abigail's safe return," said Conway Police Chief Ed Wagner and asked for anyone with information to come forward, no matter how insignificant the information may seem.
There was a moment of silence for Abby at the Oct. 11 Kennett High School football game, and several police officers were at the game seeking information from anyone with information to share.
On Oct. 12, Zenya spoke at the press conference with a tearful plea for anyone with information or who has noticed a change in Abby's behavior recently to please come forward and talk to police. She also wished Abby a happy birthday. Officials said about 75 people were involved in the search by the fourth day into it and thanked the community for providing food and shelter to the searchers. NH Fish and Game Major Kevin Jordan said Oct. 12 that searchers had covered 1,000 acres of wilderness, 2,500 acres by line searching, eight and a half miles of the Saco River, and 48 acres around and including Pudding Pond in North Conway.
A candlelight vigil was held at Kennett Middle School where hundreds of community members turned out to show their support.
On Oct. 13, FBI Special Agent Kiernan Ramsey told reporters that any information given to investigators is being fully vetted. With over 300 tips coming in from as far away as Texas, he said people should come forward with any information they have as soon as possible. He stated that days after Abby was reported missing people are still coming into the Conway Police Station to report tips that could have been reported at the beginning of the investigation. He also urged people to check their own houses, property, and any outbuildings to aid searchers.
When asked by a reporter why Abby's disappearance was still being classified as a missing person case, Ramsey said investigators "don't have that lead that indicates she was forcibly taken versus she is a missing person."
At the Oct. 14 press conference, Abby's older sister Sarah read a brief statement in which she told her sister she loves as misses her and asked that if anyone is with her they keep her safe so she can return home.
Also on Oct. 14 it was reported that five search dog teams had been deployed to search an area of about three-quarter-mile circumference around Kennett High School and those dog teams would be continuing to assist search efforts into the night and the next day.
When pressed for more information about specific pieces of evidence or work investigators are doing to track cell phone or social media use, Young again erred on the side of caution stating she doesn't want to describe details of what police are doing so as not to impede this or any future investigation.
Young reiterated that this remains a missing person investigation because there has been no evidence to "show anything beyond that" and that nothing has been "ruled in or ruled out". She said investigators will continue to work until all leads have been investigated and that the family, school, and anyone they have contacted regarding this investigation has been cooperative.
Barring any breaking news, the nightly 6 p.m. press briefings were set to continue.
Anyone with information that might be helpful to the investigation, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is asked to call Conway Police Department at (603)356-5715 or the FBI tip line at (800) CALL-FBI (800-225-5324).