SEABROOK — For 10 years, the Fourth of July has held only sadness for the family of Curtis Pishon, a former Concord, N.H., police officer and Venture Corp. security guard who at 41 years old vanished from his job at the former Seabrook manufacturer in the middle of his late-night shift on July 4, 2000.
Presumed dead, Pishon is the subject of a 10-year investigation of what Seabrook police believe is his murder. They believe they know what happened and even have suspects, but can't prove it or find the body because witnesses are afraid to come forward. Pishon's name is still one of 100 on New Hampshire's statewide cold case list under review by state authorities.
As law enforcement continues to search for evidence to prove its case against the suspected killer or killers, Pishon's family searches for closure, hopeful still that those responsible will be brought to justice. But even more, they want to discover the hiding place of Pishon's body, so they can give him the last honor loved ones receive: a proper burial in a marked grave.
"Our son, brother and uncle, Curtis Pishon, disappeared 10 years ago this Fourth of July," the Pishon family wrote in a statement release issued to the Daily News. "We have suffered because of this loss, especially because of the manner of his death, for a decade now. Although we are frustrated and hurt that we have not found his remains or seen his killers brought to justice, we remain as hopeful as we can that someday we will properly lay him to rest."
Unraveling the mystery surrounding Pishon's disappearance has been a goal of the Seabrook Police Department for years, with Lt. Michael Gallagher heading the team of investigators who continue to search out clues, interview known witnesses and put pressure on those they believe have the answers to the question of where Pishon's remains were hidden by his killer.
Working with police, the family launched the Find Curt Campaign two years ago, even posting a $5,000 reward for information leading the recovery of Pishon's remains. But although tips have come frequently, most pointing to the same suspect with similar information, fear of reprisal keeps the tips anonymous, the reward still unclaimed and Pishon's body unfound.
"Trust me," Gallagher has said in the past. "The Mafia's code of silence has nothing on the one you'll find in Seabrook."
Gallagher has pieced together what he believes happened the night of July 4, 2000, and in the early morning hours of July 5. He believes the people responsible for Pishon's death walk the streets of Seabrook today, protected by fear and that code of silence.
Gallagher also believes that holding back the information that could return Pishon's remains to his family amounts to nothing less than "moral cowardice."
In recent months, some residents in town have stepped forward, allowing state and local police to search private property areas once suspected as holding Pishon's body. Although the digging did not unearth Pishon's remains, Gallagher said it at least put those suspicions to rest, so the investigation could move on to explore other evidence.
In their recent statement, Pishon's family expressed their appreciation to those who were brave enough to help them in their mission of finding Pishon.
"We would like to thank those that have helped us during this time and continue to ask for (the public's) help to fill this void in our lives," the family wrote in their release. "We know that many people have tried to assist authorities and us with information, but those few that can bring this case to a close remain silent. Ten years is too long for a family to endure."
According to the North American Missing Persons website, on July 4, 2000, Pishon arrived at his security guard job at the former Venture Corp. around 9:30 p.m., parking his car in the parking lot close to the guard shack.
The guard he was to relieve told police that after chatting briefly with Pishon, he did not appear depressed or upset. Around midnight, Pishon's supervisor checked on him and reported no problems.
At 2 a.m., July 5, however, Pishon called the Seabrook Fire Department to report that his car was on fire. Although the car was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived shortly after the call, firefighters told police Pishon was remarkably calm despite what was happening to his car.
The last entry in Pishon's guard log was at 2 a.m., when he reported the fire, and a few plant workers on their break saw him at approximately 3:15 a.m. The first person to notice him missing was a worker arriving at the plant at 3:45 a.m., about the same time a night-shift foreman reported seeing two vehicles racing out of the driveway. When next shift's guard arrived to replace Pishon, he was nowhere to be found.
In past interviews, Gallagher has said the department's investigation points to Pishon's disappearance being the result of foul play. Gallagher has said in the past that three suspicious incidents took place at Venture on the morning Pishon disappeared: First, Pishon's car was torched, then there was an attempt to break in and steal the money in vending machines at the plant, and finally, the padlocked door of a union office at Venture was kicked in.
Gallagher thinks Pishon's car may have been torched to divert attention from a planned crime, and that after stumbling upon the crime, Pishon was killed — either accidentally or purposefully — and his body hidden by those responsible.
Those with information are urged to contact Gallagher at the Seabrook Police Department at 603-474-5200, or the Pishon family at FindCurt.com, and the tip line is 1-877-51-FINDCURT.