ROCKPORT—The uncle of the little girl who vanished from a beach here last week said today that the family had not given up hope and believed she may have been abducted, rather than swept away by the water.
David Harrison Jr., uncle of Caleigh Anne Harrison of Gloucester, said the family, which printed out missing-person flyers for her this morning, had a “strong belief” that the little girl had been abducted.
The girl’s mother, Allison Hammond, and father, Anthony Harrison, stood in the background during a news conference at the beach but declined to speak.
David Harrison thanked authorities for their efforts to search for the girl. But he said, “We think we would have found something by now. And that gives us a little bit of hope because if she is somewhere else, we have a chance of finding her.”
State Police appeared to discount the abduction theory. Spokesman David Procopio said that so far investigators had uncovered “no evidence of criminal activity” in the girl’s disappearance.
The agency, which searched the waters off Long Beach today using side scan sonar and a host of divers, planned to search Thursday, one more day, though it could return if new clues are discovered, Procopio said.
Caleigh went missing from the beach, in the area of Saratoga Creek, around noon last Thursday.
Caleigh was with her mother, her 4-year-old sister, and the family dog. When a ball flew over a wall, her mother turned her back to the toddler to retrieve it. Moments later, the girl was gone.
Procopio revealed that investigators, after retracing her steps, believe that the mother may have left the children out of her eyesight for as much as two minutes.
It was “probably closer to the two-minute end of the spectrum” he said.
The toddler is 2 years, 9 months old, with light brown hair and blue-gray eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink top and pink Capri pants. She is under three feet tall and weighs 27 to 35 pounds, State Police said.