Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vermont Mason's Daughter Missing



From ABC news yesterday comes this story of the daughter of a Brother Mason:

The search for a 12-year-old girl who police fear may have been taken by someone she met online has triggered the state of Vermont to issue its first Amber Alert.

Brooke Bennett of Braintree, Vt., has been missing since 9 a.m. Wednesday, when an uncle dropped her at a Cumblerand Farms convenience store in nearby Randolph. The girl had told her family she was being picked up by a female friend to visit the friend's relative at a hospital just across the state line in New Hampshire.

But that apparently never happened.

Authorities now believe the story was a lie concocted by Brooke to conceal her real plan: an arrangement to meet up with someone she had met online, perhaps, her father thinks, through the social networking Web site MySpace. "Through investigation it was learned that Ms. Bennett was communicating with an unknown individual online," the Vermont State Police wrote in a lengthy press release that accompanied the Amber Alert announcement.

Surveillance footage from the Cumberland Farms store, which police have so far declined to release, showed the girl being dropped off. Instead of meeting the friend, she is seen walking away from the store, alone, toward the village of Randolph, police say.

She was not reported missing by family members until 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

Early Thursday, clothing similar to what the girl had been wearing was recovered in Brookfield, 10 miles north of Randolph.

The discovery triggered an intense ground search of the area by the state police search and rescue team and dogs from two different departments. "The items have been sent to the Vermont Forensic Laboratory for examination," according to the release.

Dive teams will search Sunset Lake today, a body of water near where the clothing was found, according to the State Police .

Fliers featuring Bennett's image have been posted in towns throughout the rural stretch of Vermont by police and volunteers.

They have not yet determined who Brooke may have been talking to online, but they are looking at Brooke's computer . "Members of the Computer Crime Unit are currently examining the computer used by Ms. Bennett in an attempt to isolate and identify whom she was speaking with online before being reported missing."

Authorities announced the Amber Alert yesterday afternoon, 18 hours after Brooke was reported missing and more than 30 hours after she was last seen. In the interim, police were able to gather enough information to meet the necessary criteria for an Amber Alert designation. In this case, it was the fact that she may have had a relationship online with an unknown person.


Brooke's father, Brother James Bennett, is the Junior Warden of White River Lodge #90.

4 comments:

Mark Koltko-Rivera said...

Chris, I just felt sick reading this. I will make this a matter of prayer and bring this up at the next stated; I may also send a link to my lodge brothers. Please keep us posted on the progress here. Thank you for letting us know.

Sheryl said...

Just saw that her Uncle has been listed as a person of interest in the case. Sad.

Candide said...

Best thoughts and wishes for Brooke and her family from a Brother in Germany. On the other side of the Atlantic, we are with you in spirit, Bro:. James Bennett, and will keep you in our prayers. May the GAOTU protect your daughter and bring her back to you.

Mark Koltko-Rivera said...

Sorry to be the one to break the bad news that Brother Bennett's young daughter's body was found today. Link to the story on Yahoo news:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080702/ap_on_re_us/missing_girl

For the record, the "ex-husband" mentioned by the child's mother as being involved is not Brother Bennett.

I am so sad about all of this. May this case strengthen our resolve to back law enforcement in breaking up these rings that exploit children.