Helicopter scans NEK for clues in grandmother's abduction - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helicopter scans NEK for clues in grandmother's abduction

Sheffield, Vermont - September 16, 2010

A National Guard helicopter provides eyes in the sky; scanning remote quarries, fields, and forest land in the hills above Sheffield. The chopper is looking for clues that may lead to answers for the children and sisters of Pat O'Hagan.

"Every day is another day she's missing," said Mark O'Hagan, the missing woman's son.

The popular and active 78-year-old has not been seen since Friday. The case took a frightening turn this week when detectives called O'Hagan a victim of abduction. "My heart tells me she's OK somewhere," Mark O'Hagan said. "I picked up something this morning-- it was a book. I was reading a book at home and I brought it up. I couldn't find it; I reached into one of her bags and it was the same book. So I'm taking that as a positive sign."

But police are adamant O'Hagan is a crime victim. They have revealed almost no details of their complex case, fielding a flurry of tips from the public in a mobile command center in the parking lot of the municipal offices. Dispatchers are sending investigators from several agencies to chase down leads.

Reporter Jack Thurston: Without this tool, working in a rural town like Sheffield, how difficult would your job be?

Vt. State Police Capt. Tim Clouatre: Oh, it would be very challenging.

"She has a favorite Mass to attend, her favorite pew to sit in," Rev. Pat Forman said.

Father Pat Forman is Pat O'Hagan's priest. He knows the grandmother as a creature of habit. He says she is as involved at St. Elizabeth's in Lyndonville as she is in a host of community groups.

O'Hagan has been the focus of prayer for the parishioners at St. Elizabeth's. "We're praying that Jesus as the Good Shepherd is searching for his lost sheep," Forman explained. "And that's been my prayer with them, is that Pat's there, we're just asking the Good Shepherd to watch over her and bring her home safely."

Back in the search zone, the helicopter points a team toward a suspicious spot in some deep brush. But the crew on the ground finds nothing-- just some old garbage. It is one area ruled out; there is still no end to the waiting for Pat O'Hagan's kids.

Thurston: How long do you think you can keep going at this pace?

Mark O'Hagan: As long as it takes.

Matt O'Hagan: As long as it takes. We'll be here.

The family is joining searchers whenever they can. Everyone in Sheffield from neighbors, sheriff's deputies, FBI agents, Vermont State Police and even some retired officers are working long days. They continue asking for tips on where Pat O'Hagan was Friday and if anyone was seen near her house in the village of Sheffield. They're offering a cash reward for information.

Police are offering a $5,000 reward for help solving the mystery. They're asking the public to call them with tips at the barracks in St. Johnsbury at 802-748-3111 or the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at 802-241-5355.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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