A composite sketch is revving up the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of an Essex couple. Police say it's generated several leads from the public. The sketch has kept the phones ringing at the command center. Police wouldn't comment how many people they've questioned, but did confirm that no one's been taken into custody. Right now the man in the sketch is simply a person of interest-- not a suspect-- but police are holding out hope that somehow this will lead them to Bill and Lorraine Currier.
"I'm hopeful that they're alive and our investigation will certainly let us know sooner or later," Essex Police Lt. George Murtie said.
But the clock is ticking for Bill and Lorraine Currier. The Essex couple depends on daily meds and they've been missing for a week.
Police say the composite sketch of a man who may have been seen driving the couple's dark green Saturn sedan is a big break.
"It's been very helpful and I'm grateful for the people who are calling in with information," Murtie said.
Murtie admits that Saturn sedans are popular but says investigators have strong reason to believe that it was indeed the Curriers' car. Police say an eyewitness puts the man in the sketch in the Essex Junction Shopping Center around 1:30 p.m. Thursday. And police are confident their eyewitness got a good look. The shopping plaza is a mile from where police found the car abandoned at the Pearl Street Apartments next to a dumpster Friday. They would not say if the Curriers know the man in the sketch or if the couple may have been targeted. Police would not elaborate on why, but they believe the public is not at risk.
"We don't think he's a serious public safety concern at this time," Murtie said.
Police are following every lead-- even seemingly insignificant details-- like a package that showed up outside the home Tuesday and was gone Wednesday. Turns out police picked it up and found cushions and home furnishings inside.
"Nothing alarming, nothing that would indicate activity since their disappearance," Murtie said.
But it does clue them in that the Curriers cared about the appearance of their home and were planning for the future. Police say this-- coupled with a possible sighting of someone else driving their car-- strengthens the likelihood that a third party aside from the Curriers may be tangled in their disappearance.
"It certainly points us in that direction and we're checking that out," Murtie said.
Robin Adler is a criminal justice professor at Norwich University. She's followed dozens of investigations and says police are playing this one by the book.
"Right now they're trying to preserve the case and find these people," Adler said.
She says a composite sketch is a good starting point to get a face out to the public, but what would be more helpful is if police can find that face in the surveillance footage they've collected.
"Even video of a defendant walking, even from the back, could actually spur more memories or more recognition from the public," Adler said.
Police are now poring through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from 25 area businesses-- that's up from 10 a few days ago. And they have been able to eliminate a few persons of interest. Essex police tell WCAX News that the FBI has offered to help out and they will be taking them up on that offer.