Vigil to mark 45 years since boy vanished

Andy Puglisi disapperared Aug. 21, 1976, from a pool in Lawrence. 

LAWRENCE — Sunday evening, Melanie Perkins McLaughlin is hoping you can leave your front light on for Andy. 

It's been 45 years since Angelo "Andy" Puglisi, age 10, vanished from a city swimming pool. McLaughlin, his childhood friend, was at the pool that day — Aug. 21, 1976.

Now an award-winning, independent filmmaker, McLaughlin has made it her life's work to find Andy. He would be age 56 now. 

A vigil will be held near the Higgins Memorial Pool on Crawford Street on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, the nominee for Massachusetts U.S. attorney, will be the keynote speaker. She is expected to discuss her work on unsolved cases and how the investigations often cross jurisdictions. 

"And how we can move those cases forward," said McLaughlin, who won an Emmy for her HBO documentary on the case titled "Have You Seen Andy?"

A host of officials, police, family members and friends are expected to attend the vigil. The public is welcome, she said. 

McLaughlin is also hoping people can leave their front or porch lights on for Andy, take a picture of them and post it to social media with the hashtag #HaveYouSeenAndy on Sunday night. 

"I think that would be really nice," she said in an interview Thursday. 

She stressed all it could take is one tip, even the smallest piece of information, to break the missing child case. 

"It's just like a puzzle. That one small piece can corroborate a piece from earlier. ... You never know what pieces will fill in the puzzle," she said. 

Over the years, there have been a variety of searches for Andy. Five years ago on the 40th anniversary of his disappearance, Clear Channel Outdoor donated digital billboard space to seek leads.

Alerts about Andy went on digital billboards on major highways in Lawrence, Haverhill, Boston, Somerville and Danvers. 

A longtime suspect in Andy's disappearance is Wayne Chapman, 73, a convicted child rapist who admitted to sexually abusing as many as 100 boys in the United States and Canada. 

Chapman became eligible for release from state prison in May 2018 after decades behind bars. 

Then, in June 2018, Chapman was arrested for exposing himself and masturbating publicly in prison. He was later found not guilty of the charges after a jury trial in August 2019. 

Following the verdict, Chapman was freed and now lives in Connecticut in a long-term nursing facility. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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