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Clues continue to be sought in woman's 1980 disappearance

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 15. 2018 8:54PM
Investigators got help from heavy equipment operators digging behind the Kimball Street housing projects looking for the remains of Denise Daneault who went missing in 1980. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Police and FBI agents are expected to return to a wooded West Side area today, hoping to unearth clues in the 1980 disappearance of Denise Ann Daneault.

Throughout much of the day Tuesday, investigators worked in a tightly circumscribed wooded area behind the Kimball Street housing project. Using heavy machinery, they spent much of the morning clearing an area of about 25 by 10 feet. A Bobcat ripped down trees while a backhoe dug a grave-sized hole.

By late morning, the machine operator filled in the hole and the two machines started to scrape off thin layers of topsoil and underlying sand; technicians looked at the dirt as it sifted from the machines’ buckets.

“I like this because nothing happens around here. There’s some excitement,” said Mariam Rodriguez, who drove through a phalanx of television news trucks and police equipment vehicles to reach her parking spot.

She said the police started their work early in the morning.

“I hope they find something. It’s been 30 years that girl’s been missing,” she said.

Police have said Danealt was a divorced mother of two small children who went out socializing on June 18, 1980, and was never seen or heard from again.

Officially, the Manchester woman is listed as a missing person. Authorities searched the same area in mid-November and came up empty-handed.

Homicide prosecutor Jeffery Strelzin said the search will conclude today unless police find something.

“They didn’t get that far (on Tuesday). It took a while to clear it,” Strelzin said.

The technicians wore white polyethylene-fiber suits, and two uniformed officers stood by. They concentrated on an area a couple of hundred feet into a pine and hardwood forest, near the rear driveway of the apartment complex.

Strelzin said a downpour forced suspension of the search at one point. The searchers also endured humidity and black flies.

“Typical New Hampshire,” Strelzin said. “It’s not a lab, is it?”

The investigators stopped searching about 3 p.m. Manchester police were going to post a guard overnight.

Strelzin said cadaver dogs were brought to the area before the digging started. They are trained to search for human remains, but they cannot easily distinguish between human remains and those of other mammals.

Searchers hope to find any evidence that could shed light on Daneault’s disappearance, he said.

Rodriguez said she has lived at the Kimball Street housing projects for 20 years. Few people roam into the woods behind the project, she said. Last year, she went looking for an escaped cat in the area, and ran across tarps that she believes the police had left after their November search.

George Quinn, who also lives in the Kimball Street apartments, does not think police will find anything.

“If the cops did their job back in 1980, they would have found her then, but not in 2018,” he said.

Crime Public Safety Manchester

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