Abigail Hernandez has now been missing for 19 days. Although thousands of acres have been combed and hundreds of tips have been followed, both the FBI and local police still don't know what happened between 3 and 4 in the afternoon on October 9th when Abby disappeared. Despite this, the Hernandez family and the local community remain hopeful. On Saturday night nearly 500 people attended a flashlight vigil in Schouler Park in downtown North Conway meant to light the way home for Abby. Sean Hurley was there and has this report.
Before the flashlight walk began, the family and friends of Abigail Hernandez spoke to the hundreds of people who had gathered. Nicole Larouche is one of Hernandez’s close friends.
Abby is one of the most amazing people I know. She changed me a lot as a person. Everybody knows that person who will always make you smile. And that is Abby. Everyone that she meets, they always remember her. She is a ball of happiness. We are all aching for her to be here. No one has lost hope and no one ever will and we will keep looking until she is brought home.
The crowd, most with flashlights, some with candles, then went off together in the dark past the old Victorian Train station, across the tracks and down over the wide grassy ways of the North Conway golf course and soon became like a long strand of Christmas lights being drawn away along a river. Paul Kirsch of the White Mountain Milers organized the vigil.
I mean there are so many theories and things because it's unknown. I mean you have someone who just dropped off the face of the earth. You know one of the most important things is that people kind of keep their eyes and ears open and reevaluate everything they remember from that day if they were anywhere near the area between Kennett High School and her house and somebody somewhere is gonna have something. I mean people don't just disappear into thin air.
Brian Ames, carrying a lit candle in one hand, is one of the many who have searched for Hernandez.
Everybody's worried about her. Don't know if she got kidnapped or not. Have no idea. I didn't know her and I'm on the local fire department and was out there searching for her for 2 days and we found nothing. But they're still out there. Hopefully she'll come home.
Until now, Abigail's mother, Zenya Hernandez, has shied away from reporters except to issue pre-written statements. English is her second language and she's been advised not to talk to the press. But she feels so strongly, like Paul Kirsch, that someone has valuable information about her daughter that she agreed to speak.
We've been up and down sometimes we've been very down and sometimes we're very hopeful and very optimistic. A week ago actually I was just devastated. Like devastated. But we are very hopeful and as much as there is technology and everything else we really rely on individuals and people and what they see. And there's somebody who either saw something that they just don't think it's important and so that's why they're not reporting it. Or maybe somebody saw something and they're afraid. But I do want to say that I don't believe Abby left voluntarily. I do not.
17 year old Jess Taylor says Hernandez's disappearance has deeply affected the students at Kennett High.
For the first like week or so we were all very quiet and nobody wanted to talk about it because we were all sad. But now it's just like where is she? It's more like an anxiety thing. Like I've been shaking all night. It's just more we need to find her, we want to find her, we want to know what's happened. We're all very heavy hearted and it's like a thick sadness you can almost feel it throughout the school. Nobody is really the same as they were before. And we really just want her to come home. We want there to be an announcement during the day that they found Abby.
With a guitar strung over his shoulder, Parish Dawe-Chadwick says that he and some friends are going to go off into the woods after the vigil to sing some songs and talk about their missing friend.
I know it's a bit of a cliché at this point, but she was my best friend and every time I go home now - I said I learned A Team for her on piano - every time I'm at home now and I'm on my piano that's the first song I play at this point because I just want to be able to play it for her one time and it just reminds me that she's out there somewhere.
After he went to the woods, Dawe-Chadwick recorded his version of the Ed Sheeran song and sent it along to remind us that his best friend is still out there.
Abby Hernandez has long brown hair, brown eyes and a light olive complexion. In photos she wears a Mona-Lisa like smile and looks taller than her 5-foot 4-inch frame. She turned 15 on October 13th, 4 days after she was last seen. Anyone with any information should call 1-800-Call FBI.
For NHPR, I'm SH
Parish Dawe-Chadwick's version of Ed Sheeran's "The A Team":