EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 14, 2013

Police hope to solve Newton cold case

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — NEWTON — It’s been 33 years since 15-year-old Rachael Garden suddenly disappeared, but authorities still aren’t giving up the search.

Although there’s almost no hope she will be found alive, Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs said police hope to solve the crime and are asking the public to contact them if they have any information.

There was no information received to prompt police to resume the search for Garden, he said.

“It’s a cold case we’re trying to solve and to bring closure to the family,” he said.

Briggs said a $10,000 reward is offered to anyone who helps solve the case.

“We’ll be looking for any new leads we can get,” he said. “We believe she is still in Southern New Hampshire.”

Kingston and Newton police have teamed up with state authorities, including the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit, over the years to investigate the teenager’s mysterious disappearance.

Garden, who would be 48 now, disappeared the evening of March 21, 1980, after she bought a pack of cigarettes and gum at Rowe’s Corner Market on Route 108. She was supposed to meet friends at a home on Main Street, but was never seen again.

A student at Sanborn Regional High and the eldest of four children, the petite teen was wearing jeans, brown tied shoes, a two-tone blue ski jacket and carrying a tote bag with the word “Things” on its side.

She had light brown, shoulder-length hair and hazel eyes, stood 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 102 pounds.

She was described by people who knew her as headstrong and rebellious at times, fun-seeking and outspoken. Some people thought she was kidnapped, abducted or murdered, while others hoped she had run away.

Newton police Chief Lawrence Streeter said police receive a new tip in the case about every six months and it’s investigated, but nothing has ever come from any of them.

Garden’s family moved to northern New Hampshire shortly after her disappearance. Her father recently died, Streeter said.

In 2008, after receiving a tip, investigators scoured Ice Pond and Country Pond for clues to the teen’s disappearance. Both searches came up empty.

In July 2008, they spent more than six hours using sonar and a Global Positioning System to examine Ice Pond’s bottom in search of clues.

A team of seven police officers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts keyed in on three specific areas. But when divers went down to examine those areas, they came up with fragments of wood, shingles and an old shovel, instead of human remains or evidence.

Five years ago, divers searched a local pond after receiving a tip that her body may be there. Nothing was found.

There are no plans to search the pond again unless there are new tips, Briggs said.

When Garden first disappeared in 1980, Newton residents and police launched a foot search and scoured the town.

A decade later, the state police major crime unit helped officials excavate a 60-square-foot section of woods in Newton.

About that the same time, Garden’s parents contacted psychics with the hope of finding their daughter.

About 10 years ago, a state police detective said there was nothing to indicate Garden was a runaway. She left behind her horse, her dental retainer and other prized possessions, he pointed out.

Anyone who has information on the case is asked to call Kingston police at 642-5742 or Newton police at 382-6774.