NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 19, 2013

Police investigate new tip about teen who vanished in 1980

By Doug Ireland
Staff writer

---- — NEWTON, N.H.— Police Chief Lawrence Streeter said he has received a new piece of information pertinent to the 1980 disappearance of 15-year-old Rachael Garden and has referred it to state police.

Newton and Kingston police issued an appeal for information about the case in April.

Streeter said the tip he recently received would not likely lead to a breakthrough in the case, but it’s yet another piece of information for state investigators to evaluate.

Streeter said he forwarded the information to the New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit.

“They get all the pieces,” he said. “I more or less rely on them to put it in the matrix to see what fits.”

The Newton teen was a student at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston when she mysteriously disappeared on the evening of March 21, 1980.

Garden, the eldest of four children, had just bought a pack of cigarettes and some gum at Rowe’s Corner Market at Pond Street and Route 108 in Newton. She was supposed to meet friends at a home on Main Street but did not show up and was never seen again.

Garden, who is believed to be dead, would be 48. She had light brown, shoulder-length hair and hazel eyes, was 5-foot-1 and weighed 102 pounds.

A $10,000 reward is offered to anyone who helps solve the case.

“It’s a cold case we’re trying to solve and to bring closure to the family,” Kingston Police Chief Donald Briggs said.

Briggs said his department hasn’t received any new tips about the case but he remains hopeful.

“We are still optimistic about people coming forward with new information,” he said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin, who heads the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit, acknowledged receiving information from Streeter but said he couldn’t comment further.

Funding for the 4-year-old cold case program ran out earlier this year, but Strelzin said Friday two state police detectives and a part-time attorney general’s office employee are still working on the 33-year-old Garden case and more than 100 other cold cases.

“Nothing is ignored,” he said. “We will work on the case as we can.”

The latest tip isn’t the first in the case, Streeter said. There have been many over the years, including some during Streeter’s 12 years as police chief.

After receiving a tip in 2008, investigators scoured Ice Pond and Country Pond in Newton for clues. Both searches came up empty.

A decade after Garden disappeared, a tip from an informant prompted the excavation of a 60-square-foot section of woods in Newton.

About that the same time, Garden’s family, who moved to northern New Hampshire shortly after her disappearance, contacted psychics with the hope of finding their daughter.

Streeter said earlier this year that Garden’s father had recently died. The family could not be reached for comment.

Anyone who has information on the case is asked to call Kingston police at 642-5742 or Newton police at 382-6774.