VERNON -- Six agencies from three states finished on Wednesday an underwater search for a Chesterfield mother and daughter reported missing in 2001 and sonar data collected near the Vernon dam will be analyzed in the investigation's next stage.
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Agati told the Reformer the New Hampshire State Police, the Cold Case Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, the N.H. Fish & Game Department's dive team, New Hampshire Marine Patrol, the Vermont State Police scuba team and the Massachusetts State Police Underwater Recovery Team collaborated in the latest search for Tina and Bethany Sinclair, who were last seen together the weekend of Feb. 3 and 4, 2001.
The search included the water near the Vernon dam and different parts of the Connecticut River, according to Sgt. Joe DiRusso, of the major crime unit of the New Hampshire State Police.
Agati said the state agencies teamed up Tuesday and Wednesday with new equipment and technology not available when the water near the dam was searched more than 10 years ago. He told the Reformer the new techniques enabled searchers to get closer to the dam than ever before. The sonar data, he said, will reveal the areas of the water that could not be seen or hand-searched.
DiRusso said he could not stress enough the importance of the teamwork between the six state agencies.
"We were able to accomplish what we wanted to do the past two days," he said, adding that he could not elaborate on his comment.
Agati said the two-day operation was not based on any new leads or tips and the state agencies have for a while been discussing the coordination of a multi-team search effort in the area around the Vernon dam. He said that even if no evidence is produced from this search, its completion will at least mean the area of the Vernon dam can be "crossed off the list" of places to potentially find answers as to what happened to Tina and Bethany Sinclair.
The Reformer previously reported that at the time of the disappearance, Tina Sinclair was a 36-year-old cosmetologist working to become a home health nurse and Bethany Sinclair was a 15-year-old student at Keene High School.
"We'll look for other areas that may not have been physically searched due to safety concerns in 2001," he said, if no evidence is found. "We'll figure out the next track to take."
He mentioned the search teams found an empty 55-gallon drum in the water.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.