GLOUCESTER – A group of retired law enforcement officials who assist families in missing children cases concluded today that Caleigh Harrison, the 2-year-old girl who disappeared on a Rockport beach on April 19, was swept out to sea and drowned.
The group ruled out the possibility that Caleigh may have been abducted.
Mission for the Missing, a Boston nonprofit, had been asked to investigate the case by Caleigh’s father, Anthony Harrison. After interviewing family members, eyewitnesses, and establishing a toll-free tip line, the organization came to the same conclusion as the State Police did in late April.
“We have concluded that it is highly unlikely that the child was abducted. It really would have been an impossibility,” said Maureen Flatley, a spokeswoman for the group.
The announcement dimmed the Harrison family’s hopes that they will ever see Caleigh again. Their anguish began April 19 at Long Beach in Rockport, after her mother, Allison Hammond, brought her to the beach, along with her four-year-old sister,and the family dog.
Chasing a ball, Hammond said, she lost sight of her children, returning to find Caleigh missing. For the next week, State Police, Environmental Police, Rockport police, and the Coast Guard searched the beach and found no trace of the toddler.
Dozens of State Police divers assisted in the search, which also included helicopters, canine patrols, and investigators who interviewed witnesses who had seen Caleigh that day. Investigators even searched nearby Milk Island and dug up a portion of the beach, finding no clues relating to her disappearance.
“On behalf of those who searched for Caleigh, we will never forget her and are mindful of the sorrow that her family lives with every day,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio. “We still hope that some day we will be able to definitively tell the what happened to the little girl whom they love.”