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Cold Case Unit to apply new technology to 13-year-old missing persons case

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2014 11:59PM
Dive teams from three states were at the Vernon Dam on the Connecticut River near Hinsdale on Tuesday looking for the bodies of Tina and Bethany Sinclair. The mother and teenage daughter disappeared from Chesterfield more than 13 years ago. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

VERNON, VT. — A two-day search at the Vernon Dam on the Connecticut River near Hinsdale is part of the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit’s effort to apply new technology to a 13-year-old missing persons case.

“Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is just what you need,” Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati said Tuesday afternoon on the shore of the Vermont side of the river.

“This has always been an area of interest and this area has been searched before,” he said. “The river has been searched before in regards to this case, but never this close to the dam before.”

Dive teams from three states are to return today to search for the bodies of mother and daughter Tina and Bethany Sinclair, last seen together in Chesterfield during the weekend of Feb. 3 and 4, 2001. Tina Sinclair was 36 and Bethany was 15 when they disappeared.

The two were living in Chesterfield with Tina’s boyfriend, Eugene Van Bowman.

State officials said the ongoing searches are not because of any new leads or information.

“This is just something we wanted to do. We did not have the technology to do it back in 2001,” Agati said.

Side-scan sonar makes it possible for divers to safely get closer to the Vernon Dam than in past searches, he said.

“It has the ability to go down deep into the water and do a search on both sides,” Agati said.

The expedition also helps train divers on the new equipment, he said.

“We’ve got not only the New Hampshire Fish and Game Dive Team, but also we have the state of Vermont State Police SCUBA Team as well as the Massachusetts State Police Underwater Recovery Team,” Agati said.

He added: “We’re talking about acres and acres of water. It’s hard to do that just on your own.”

The State Police Marine Patrol Unit is also assisting, he said.

Agati also thanked TransCanada Hydro Northeast and Vermont Yankee Nuclear for allowing the locks of the dam to be shut off periodically during the day.

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