http://ledger.southofboston.com/articles/2005/03/22/news/news06.txtA MOM'S DAILY STRUGGLE: WHAT HAPPENED TO JENNIFER FAY?
Investigators donate time to help solve missing child case from '89
By COURTNEY HOLLANDS
The Patriot Ledger
A missing child case never really goes cold for the family and loved ones who are left behind with the painful memories.
Dorothy MacLean's daughter, Jennifer Fay, was 16 when she disappeared from a party down the street from her family's Emerson Avenue apartment in Brockton in November 1989.
‘‘I struggle every day to lead a normal life, not knowing where Jennifer is,'' said a teary MacLean, who lives in Rockland. ‘‘It's really hard.''
Now, 16 years later, MacLean may finally get some closure.
Through the Molly Bish Foundation, an organization that promotes child safety through education and prevention, four local private investigators are donating their time to reopen Jennifer's case.
‘‘We're hoping that this investigation will spark interest again in a fairly dormant case,'' said investigator Phillip White of Brockton.
White, along with investigators Robert Carey of Whitman, Charles Castro of Stoughton and Joseph White of Easton, met with MacLean for the first time in February.
‘‘We must have picked her brain for four hours,'' White said.
So far the team, working with local researcher Michelle Littlefield, has identified 224 people that they want to interview or re-interview in connection with Jennifer's disappearance. They have also launched a web site dedicated to the case and started a toll-free hotline.
‘‘Some of the people might feel more comfortable speaking with a private investigator, than to a cop with a gun and badge,'' he said.
The investigators are also looking at three sites - two in Brockton and one in a bordering town - as potential crime scenes, White said.
Once the weather warms, the team will use special equipment to search the water at one of the sites for a submerged vehicle, he said.
‘‘We can't guarantee anything,'' White said. ‘‘But at the very least, we are bringing the case to the forefront.''
The investigators are not paid for the work they are doing.
‘‘It's a labor of love,'' said Castro, another investigator on the team. ‘‘The more involved you get, the less you think about the time you're donating.''
Investigators estimate that they have put in more than 200 hours over the past two months toward finding Jennifer Fay.
MacLean appreciates the work.
‘‘These guys have done more in two months than police have done in 15 years,'' she said during a meeting with the investigators at White's Brockton home.
Jennifer was baby-sitting for her younger brother and sister the night of Nov. 14, 1989, while her mother was out with friends. Jennifer called a cousin to watch the children while she went to see some friends. She returned home with a boy a short time later to pick up a sweater. That was the last family members saw of her. Friends said they didn't know what happened to her.
Police initially treated the case as a runaway. MacLean had doubts about that theory because Jennifer seemed happy at home.
Today, MacLean still doesn't believe that Jennifer ‘‘just took off on a whim.''
Neither does Jennifer's sister, Yvette Churchill, who was just 11 the night Jennifer vanished.
‘‘Jennifer was very outgoing, spontaneous, funny,'' said Churchill, now 27, of Rockland. ‘‘When she didn't come home, I knew something happened to her. ... We were too close for her to run away.''
Churchill laughs through tears as she paints a picture of Jennifer: the life of the party, hair styled and sprayed just so.
Though the family says that dredging memories and testimony to the surface after more than a decade has been difficult, MacLean finds comfort in the prospect of certainty in Jennifer's case.
‘‘Hopefully, the investigators will find her and find whoever did whatever to her,'' she said. ‘‘We'd rather find her alive. But I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen.''
If you have any information about the Jennifer Fay case, or to find out more about it, visit www.whereisjennifer.org
; or call the toll-free hotline 866-882-2626.