No evidence of Hinsdale mother, daughter found in Connecticut River water search
HINSDALE — A two-day water diving operation in the Connecticut River near Vernon Dam between Hinsdale and Vernon, Vt., concluded Wednesday with no evidence to report regarding a Chesterfield mother and daughter who went missing more than 13 years ago.
“We’ve wrapped up our operations for the day,” Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati Wednesday evening. “We’ve completed water operations there. … It’s not clear that we’ve seen anything of evidentiary value at this point.”
It will be another six weeks before all of the sonar scan data can be fully evaluated, Agati said. Those results are expected to tell investigators if there were any areas missed. Divers searched areas of the river that are up to 50 feet deep, he said.
“Whether we hit every nook and cranny? We’re going to have to go back and look at those sonar scans,” Agati said.
Another water operation could be planned in the future, based on those results. Mounting another dive would also involve a lot of coordination as this operation did, Agati said.
The sonar scans showed, “nothing of evidentiary value,” he said. “We found a 55 gallon drum. That turned out to be completely empty.”
Tuesday and Wednesday dive teams from three states searched the river near the dam for the bodies of mother and daughter, Tina Sinclair, and Bethany, who were last seen together in Chesterfield during the weekend of Feb. 3 and 4, 2001.
“We’ve been looking for all types of different evidence,” Agati said. “We are looking for bodies and body parts” as well as metal objects that might have survived other the years such as jewelry, shoe and belt buckles and wire outlines of certain clothing.
The river was an area of interest for investigators in the past, but this was the first time dive teams could get safely close to the dam thanks to new technology and techniques.
Tina Sinclair was 36 and Bethany was 15 when they disappeared.
Prior to that weekend, they had lived with Tina’s boyfriend, Eugene Van Bowman at his 182 Mountain Road home in Chesterfield.
Tina Sinclair last went to her job and Bethany last attended school on Feb. 2, 2001.
The water operation was conducted by the NH Fish and Game Dive Team, Vermont State Police SCUBA Team, the Massachusetts State Police Underwater Recovery Team, NH State Police Marine Patrol Unit and the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit.
According to Agati, the Sinclair’s disappearance was one of the first cases the Cold Case Unit took on when it formed in 2009.