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August 29, 2013

Six-year search for missing woman reaches end

Sister relieved tests prove bones in river were victim's

Linda Morrissette had no doubt that a shoe found along a bank of the Merrimack River two years ago was worn by her sister Helena Fells at the time she disappeared in 2006.

Yesterday, Morrissette received confirmation that it was indeed her sister’s shoe, which she believed when police showed it to her more than a year ago.

“I’ve been searching for my sister for nearly seven years,” Morrissette said. “Finally, I have closure.”

The Essex District Attorney’s Office said yesterday that a foot and ankle bone recovered on the bank of the Merrimack River in West Newbury in April, 2011, just east of Haverhill was positively identified as that of Morrissette’s sister, Helena Fells, 49, of Dracut.

“I knew it was Helena. I just needed them to tell me,” Morrissette said. “If Helena liked a pair of boots or shoes, she’d buy three pairs each in different colors. The shoe (found on the riverbank) that I was shown was the same brand and size as the other two pairs of her shoes that I’d kept.”

Fells was last seen in Lowell on Nov. 26, 2006. According to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office, police found her parked car near the Merrimack River and a search dog tracked her scent from the car to the river’s edge. While it was believed that she had drowned, a search of the river produced no results.

On April 12, 2011, West Newbury Police notified the Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Essex District Attorney’s Office that an environmental clean-up company had recovered a human foot and ankle bone inside of what appeared to be a woman’s shoe. An extensive search of the area was conducted using a State Police dog, but nothing else was found.

Morrissette, a Lowell resident, said State Trooper Anthony Schena contacted her more than a year ago to ask if she would look at the shoe that was recovered.

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