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O'Hagan search prompts memories of cold case - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

O'Hagan search prompts memories of cold case

Burlington, Vermont - September 2010

There is still no word on where a Northeast Kingdom woman, feared kidnapped, may be. Detectives are following up on tips on the travels of Pat O'Hagan and now are asking the public for some specific help.

One of the biggest public events in Sheffield in recent weeks was the annual Sheffield Field Days on Labor Day. Police want anyone who was at that event to give them snapshots, home video, or even cell phone photos. They're not saying exactly how the photos may assist them in the O'Hagan case.

Friends of another missing woman say any clues from the public may help O'Hagan's family avoid a lifetime of wondering. "Seventeen years is a long time, but it's just like yesterday for a lot of us," said Lisa England. England and her husband have spent nearly 20 years wondering what happened to their friend Audrey Groat.

"We kind of know what we think is the worst, but we can't prove it," Steve England said.

The Englands called police when Groat didn't pick up her daughter up from their house in August of 1993. The Northfield woman is presumed dead; the victim of a homicide, but her body has never been found.

Now, the case of another missing Vermont woman, Sheffield grandmother Pat O'Hagan, hits close to home for the Englands. "It brings you back to that day," Lisa England said.

Vermont State Police say O'Hagan was forcibly snatched from her home on Route 122. Her family says she was not wealthy and was a single widow. They don't know who would want to target the popular and outgoing grandmother. Detectives and the FBI are now piecing together her travels, moving their operation this week from Sheffield to St. Johnsbury.

"My heart goes out to the O'Hagan family," Lisa England said. "Don't give up hope!"

Lisa England was at the park & ride in Montpelier four years ago, remembering her friend Audrey. It's where she was last seen; where her friends and family set up a cross saying "I looked for you today, just like yesterday, as I will tomorrow."

"It's so easy for other people to forget and move on, but when this has happened to you, you can't move on," said Jamesina Cote, Audrey Groat's youngest daughter, in an interview from August 2006.

Pat O'Hagan's kids have said they're not giving up hope police or search crews will find their mom safe. "We'll be here with them as long as it takes," Mark O'Hagan said.

In missing persons cases, the searching is not what's hard for loved ones, It's the not finding -- and not knowing. "And if you hear something, pass it along," Lisa England pleaded. "It may not be important to you. But it could be important to someone else."

Audrey Groat has 17 grandchildren she never got to meet. Her friends and family are encouraged by recent cracks in cold cases like the recent conviction of Howard Godfrey for the rape and murder of Patricia Scoville in Stowe back in 1991.

State Police have a website with 15 missing Vermonters on it, including Audrey Groat, and now, Pat O'Hagan. Click here to visit the Vermont State Police's mising persons page.

If you have photos or video of the Sheffield Field Days, whether or not they show Pat O'Hagan, police would like to hear from you. Vermont State Police continue offering a $5,000 cash reward for significant information in the case. 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.

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Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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