Surveillance photo of Michael Jacques and Brooke Bennett from the day Brooke disappeared.
Bethel, Vermont - June 30, 2008
While Brooke Bennett's uncle, Michael Jacques, is charged in an unrelated child sex case, police are now calling him a "person of interest" in the disappearance of Brooke. State and federal investigators searched his home Monday.
Vermont State Police say it's too early to know whether Brooke was part of the "Breckenridge" sex ring that led to the charges against Jacques. But they say their investigation into Jacques drastically shifted the focus of their investigation into Brooke's disappearance.
"The scope of this investigation has narrowed. We are making progress. We have eliminated several scenarios that were possibilities in the disappearance of Brooke," said Vt. State Police Col. James Baker.
Police said they have narrowed their investigation into the disappearance of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. The Braintree girl was last seen in Randolph Wednesday morning when her uncle dropped her off at a convenience store. She had told her family she was meeting a friend to visit someone she had met on the online social networking site, MySpace. That focus shifted again over the weekend.
"Late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, information was developed as a result of forensic examination of computers that helped us change the direction of this investigation. As a result of that, Michael Jacques became a person of interest into the disappearance of Brooke," said Baker.
Police said Michael Jacques, 42, was the last person seen with Brooke -- the uncle seen in surveillance video from the convenience store. And they said he was the person who found the articles of clothing near the floating bridge in Brookfield that forensics linked to her.
Monday police focused their investigation on the Jacques home in Randolph. They would not comment on the evidence they found or what they were looking for. Other than that they are looking for information that will lead them to Brooke.
"What I hope and what we all hope is that Brooke is safe somewhere," said Baker.
Again, police want to hear from anyone who may have information about Brooke Bennett or any child or teenager who may have had contact with Michael Jacques. They say there's a possibility there may be more victims of the Breckenridge ring -- and more arrests. And police say it is imperative that parent are cautious about the use of social networking sites like MySpace-- not fearful, but cautious. Police say those web sites are central to this case.
Police say they are not ruling out the possibility that Brooke just ran away, but that is not the focus of their investigation right now.
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