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Expedited hearing today for accused Abigail Hernandez kidnapper

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2014 7:02PM
The sign in front of Kennett High School welcomes back Abigail Hernandez, who went missing on Oct. 9, 2013 after leaving the school where she was a freshman. She reappeared, unhurt, on July 20 and authorities subsequently charged a Gorham man with kidnapping the now 15-year old. A friend of and spokesman for the Hernandez family on Tuesday refused to say whether Abigail would return to KHS this fall. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

OSSIPEE — An expedited hearing has been scheduled for this afternoon in the case of Nathaniel E. Kibby, the Gorham man accused of kidnapping Conway teenager Abigail Hernandez last October.

The 1:30 p.m. hearing in Ossipee District Court follows the filing Tuesday of an “emergency motion to preserve evidence “by Kibby’s attorneys Jesse Friedman and Allison Schwartz as the state continues to investigate his client, something that Conway Police Chief Ed Wagner yesterday said was ongoing with representatives from both the FBI and State Police Major Crime Unit coming north to work with CPD detectives.

Hernandez disappeared on Oct. 9, 2013 after leaving Kennett High School where she was a freshman. She just as suddenly and without explanation reappeared on July 20 and eight days later, based on information provided by Hernandez, police arrested Kibby at his residence at 4 Brookside Drive in the Gateway Trailer Park.

Kibby, 34, appeared in Conway District Court on July 29 where Friedman – after arguing without success to have the state tell him immediately why Kibby was being charged with a Class B felony kidnapping - entered a plea of “no plea” on behalf of Kibby who is currently being held on $1 million cash-only bond pending an Aug. 12 probable-cause hearing.

Like today’s proceedings, the probable-cause hearing will be held in Ossipee, which is a newer and larger facility and one that also has more parking than the court in Conway, said Carole Alfano, the public information officer for the New Hampshire Judicial Branch.

In their motion, Friedman and Schwartz are asking Justice Pamela Albee to order the state to leave Kibby’s single-wide residential trailer as well as a storage trailer on his property, in place, summing up that the dearth of information from the state to them has left the defense “still unable to understand the breadth and scope of the charges against Mr. Kibby and the extent of the ongoing investigation.”

In the state’s reply, Associate Attorney General Jane Young objected to granting the motion to preserve evidence, saying that by moving them to a secure location, it was, in fact, preserving them. In a shot at Friedman and Schwartz, Young cited a NH Superior Court Regulation that said within 30 days of entering a plea of “not guilty,” the state shall provide to the defense “copies of and access to” documents and property.

Elaine Lowe, who is the circuit clerk for the 3rd District Circuit that covers Carroll County, said the arrest affidavit for Kibby and the search warrant for his property remain sealed.

“It’s going to be a while before we’re done investigating the case,” said Wagner. He noted that multiple agencies have been part of the investigation into Hernandez’s disappearance and her return. The agencies have included several local police departments, as well as the FBI, the Secret Service and the Maine State Police, although Wagner could not comment on their roles due to the ongoing investigation.

Asked whether his department ever had contact with Hernandez before she went missing, Wagner said he could not comment because she was and still is a minor; he did say, however, that the CPD had never been in contact with her mother, Zenya.

On Tuesday, the Union Leader reached out via Facebook to Zenya Hernandez for comment about Abigail’s future. A short while later, the newspaper was contacted by Paul Kirsch, a friend of the Hernandez family and one of its spokesmen, who refused to say whether Abigail would be returning to Kennett High School this fall while adding that “the family needs times for itself” and would like to be left alone.

Despite not speaking with the Union Leader, Zenya Hernandez has spoken publicly twice since Abigail returned, the first time on July 28 when she appeared on NBC’s Today Show to counter rumors that Abigail had been pregnant during her disappearance. Zenya also averred that Abigail did not run away and that she was taken by someone who was a stranger to her.

On July 30, both Zenya and Abigail Hernandez went to the offices of the Conway Daily Sun to thank the newspaper for running a box on page 2 in the newspaper every day Abigail was missing.

In the subsequent article in the Sun, Zenya added another twist to an already mystifying case when she said her daughter – who had previously been able to send a letter to her mother shortly after disappearing – had been able to read her hometown paper “off and on” and that she got hope from knowing people were looking for her.

Authorities have yet to comment on how or if Kibby and Abigail Hernandez knew each other and Wagner on Tuesday was quiet on that and all other aspects of the investigation. Whatever the circumstances, however, “We’ve said from the beginning that no adult can take a child and keep them” from their family or from authorities, said Wagner.

The chief acknowledged that the Conway Police has spent a lot of time and resources trying to find Abigail Hernandez and trying to figure out what happened to her, adding that “The bottom line is she came home and is safe and all the money, all the resources don’t matter and I’m sure every parent would want to spend the same amount” to find a missing son or daughter.

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