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Authorities search Back Pond, comb woods for missing Stewartstown girl
STEWARTSTOWN - A call went out for firefighters Friday morning as teams formed and fanned out in several areas around Stewartstown in the fourth day of the search for Celina Cass, 11.
One team of searchers began looking in an area around the Stewartstown Community School, while on the other end of town New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers conducted line searches in thick woods off Back Pond Road.
A Fish and Game boat, containing a conservation officer, an unidentified law enforcement agent, and a dog, was on the 22-acre pond, while a helicopter flew low up above.
Just down the road, FBI agents jumped the fence at the Stewartstown transfer station on Back Pond Road, but soon returned after a quick search.
"It's not a deep pond, it's a mud pond," said Emily Haynes, who lives on the road.
She said it is not "the kind of place you'd want to swim," but fisherman go out and try their luck and, in the woods, young people have parties.
She and her husband, Keith, have watched the search all week and like others in this tiny community, they are concerned about the disappearance of Cass.
Emily Haynes said the effort "feels good that everyone is concerned enough to put the effort in up here."
Anyone with any information is asked to contact New Hampshire State Police at (603) 846-3333.
ABC News Video: Elizabeth Smart on the Celina Cass disappearance
Full text of the original article continues below.
STEWARTSTOWN — The third full day in the intensive search for a missing 11-year-old girl ended with no answers.
“We have not learned where Celina Cass is now,” FBI Resident-Agent-in-Charge Kiran Ramsey said at a media briefing late Thursday afternoon.
Officials remain hopeful that there will be “some positive result,” he said.
In this small, close-knit town on the Canadian border, the days have dragged for residents, who are at once concerned about Cass and fearful at not knowing why she cannot be found.
ABC's "Nightline" reported Thursday night that Cass' stepfather, Wendell Noyes, was arrested for threatening an ex-girlfriend and involuntarily committed in 2003 to a mental institution, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Noyes refused to comment.
More than 100 investigators converged in Stewartstown on Thursday, a four-fold increase in manpower from the previous day. They included federal agents from the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team. Around 4 p.m., the state's major crime unit parked at Cass' family's home, which has been blocked off with yellow tape since Wednesday afternoon, and an investigation began there.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said more than 150 tips have been received, which are followed up “as soon as they come in,” and “computers and phones” are being examined.
“This is an all-out search for her,” Young said.
Top officials implored the public to provide them with any tips.
That was the poignant plea, too, from Stewartstown Community School nurse Kirsten Lyons, who spoke at the media briefing on behalf of the community and the family of Cass, who just completed the fourth grade at the school.
“I'm pleading with anyone who has information to call,” she said. “There is no piece of information that is too small.”
Lyons said the girl is loved and cherished, is devoted to her sister and is “missed very much” by her hometown.
“Celina, we want you to know that your friends and family are doing everything they can to bring you home,” Lyons said.
Despite the increased presence of law enforcement, who conducted house-to-house searches in town, the questions and speculation mounted.
The face of the girl with long hair and bright eyes smiled out from hundreds of posters, taped up in store windows and tacked onto telephone poles along some of the region's most rural roads.
“We just feel so helpless, so we thought we would come up here and do whatever we could,” said Karen Ramsay of Dalton.
She and her daughter, Cara Bergman of Littleton, headed north to Stewartstown Thursday morning to claim a stack of posters they took down to Colebrook to post, before returning mid-afternoon to get more in Stewartstown.
“It was sad,” Bergman said about going around town. “People were asking if there was anything new, but nobody knows anything; they just pray and hope.”
The women said they passed out the fliers to drivers and truckers going as far south as Connecticut and Rhode Island.
A short time earlier, Cassie Belanger and Constance McKearney of Jefferson, who is related to Cass' family, pulled up to the Stewartstown school, their car loaded with donated food and drinks, including two pallets of lemonade.
They carried them into the multi-purpose room of the school, where dozens of officers and agents, some in camouflage clothing, talked on phones and pored over maps. The large room was hot.
“It's a small town and small area,” McKearney said. “Everyone grows up here together and everyone does what they can do to help.”
Throughout the morning, police cars, lights flashing and sirens blaring, rolled through the downtown. Later in the morning, about a half-dozen women stood in the July sun, waving fliers, and handing them out to the many motorists who stopped by.
“Please help bring Celina home!” cried one girl to every car that passed by.
“Say a prayer for Celina,” said another teenage girl.
A man driving a bright yellow sports car pulled over to tell two of the women:”I hope you find her safe — God bless you both.”
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