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May 12, 2013

Cleveland gives hope to those investigating missing kids

Many people had given up years ago on ever finding Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight alive after they vanished without a trace.

But last week’s rescue of the three women who had been held captive in a Cleveland, Ohio home for about a decade is renewing hope for police who are determined to solve missing children cases.

“It was a miracle — because in most of these unfortunate tragedies, the victims are not found alive,” Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs said in an interview Friday, reflecting on the Cleveland case that has grabbed national attention.

“This certainly gives you hope that we will find Rachael Garden alive. Previous information that we received was that she’s deceased. But there’s always hope that she will be found alive,” Briggs said.

Briggs was referring to the 15-year-old Newton, N.H. girl who vanished on the night of March 21, 1980 after buying a pack of cigarettes and chewing gum at Rowe’s Corner Market on Route 108 in the center of town. She was headed for a friend’s home on Main Street, but never showed up.

The Kingston and Newton police departments continue to work closely with New Hamsphire law enforcement officials to find out what happened to the petite girl with hazel eyes and light brown, shoulder-length hair.

“It’s always a possibility that Rachael is alive,” Newton police Chief Lawrence Streeter said.

“We haven’t forgotten about her. The potential is always there (to find Rachael). You always want to shake the bushes and try to develop some information. You never want to forget about it,” Streeter said.

Rachael’s case is one of four missing-child cases from the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire posted on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website. Overall, there are 42 cases from Massachusetts and 11 from New Hampshire. They include parental kidnappings, endangered runaways and cases were the child was abducted by a non-family member or stranger.

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