The biggest ground search yet is underway for a missing Essex couple.
As the leaves turn, the clues dwindle but the mystery remains. Four and-a-half months after Bill and Lorraine Currier vanished from their Colbert Street home, police still don't know what happened to them.
"Very weird," agreed Todd Bushey, who lives across the street from the Curriers' home. Since his neighbors disappeared in June, he's beefed up security at his own home. "I just put some anchors in the windows themselves so they can only open so far. It would take a pretty small individual to get in."
On Tuesday morning nearly three dozen law enforcement personnel headed out to once again search for clues into the couple's disappearance. "We don't know what we are going to find, but we're certainly going to try. We'll see what's out there," said Essex Police Department Capt. Brad LaRose.
This is the 10th search. Police say in the early stages of their investigation they subpoenaed Verizon for the Curriers' cell phone records. They didn't get a complete set until September and that's when they discovered a big clue. On the morning that the Curriers were reported missing, police say a call came into Bill Currier's cell phone at 7:27 from his employer at UVM. No one answered that call but it rang long enough that the signal was picked up from a cell phone tower and police say that could be the biggest break in the case.
"This cone here in yellow is the possible area of the location of the cell phone when the connection to this tower was made," Capt. LaRose said.
The police worked with the FBI to create a condensed search area. Police hope if they locate Bill Currier's cell phone it would lead them to the Curriers' bodies or other pertinent evidence. "We have searched many of these areas in the past and not so much here in the bigger, denser area," Capt. LaRose said.
And that area was the focus of Tuesday's efforts. The low lying muddy grounds outside the Whitcomb Farm in Essex mark the southern border of the search. It extends north to land known as 68 acres -- an area that surrounds the Woodside Juvenile Facility. That's where the Curriers' family members joined the search. Teams were also sent to residential Essex neighborhoods and Colchester Technical Rescue was out on the Winooski RIver. But post Tropical Storm Irene, finding four month-old evidence on the river banks is near impossible. "Irene came through, the water was over the banks here and the Curriers turned up missing well before Irene came through so the chances of something still being along the riverbanks is pretty low," said Mike Canon with Colchester Technical Rescue.
A reality that offers little consolation to neighbors and family looking for answers. "I think it needs closure. I think everybody would think that," Todd Bushey said.
Essex police say Tuesday's search turned up nothing. Now it becomes a race against mother nature. Collecting clues once the snow flies is difficult. Police did say that they've talked with several people since the case broke, but no one has been questioned as a suspect.