VERNON — The search for three young girls who went missing in the 1960s and 1970s continues, and family members were assured Thursday the cold cases are being actively investigated.
“We haven’t forgotten,” Tolland County State’s Attorney Mathew Gedansky said. “We think about them every day. We’re going to keep working.”
In order to consolidate the investigation, the Tolland County Cold Case Squad was formed in 2014 to examine the disappearances of Lisa White, Janice Pockett, and Debra Spickler.
Spickler was 13 when she went missing July 24, 1968, Pocket was 7 when she was reported missing July 26, 1973, and White was 13 when she went missing Nov. 1, 1974.
A $50,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of anyone connected to each of the disappearances.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who moved to Tolland three weeks before Pocket disappeared, consoled Mary Engelbreht, Pocket’s younger sister, and Aprille Faletti, White’s younger sister, who were present this morning.
“Just know that our state, our community are always thinking about them,” Wyman said of the missing girls. “We will not forget them. Hopefully someday we will find out the answers to the questions that all of us have.”
Spickler’s family lives out of state and was unable to attend, Gedansky said.
He introduced and praised members of the squad, including Chief Inspector Jack Edwards, who Gedansky called “critical to this initiative.”
Gedansky said the squad “would not have gotten off the ground without him.”
Members of the squad include detectives and officers from Connecticut State Police and the Vernon Police Department, as well as analysts from the Chief State Attorney’s Office.
“It’s a great team,” Gedansky said.
While “there was great police work” during the initial investigation, technology has evolved and the squad intends to put modern practices to work with the cold cases.
With 95 tips that the squad has followed up on, 50 different interviews, and thousands of reports to be scanned into a computer system, the squad hopes the new technology will lead to breaks in the cases.
Detectives also have searched three sites, and intend to search multiple others, which Gedansky said the squad was planning today.
A one-hour podcast also is scheduled for May.
When initially formed, the squad was also focusing on human remains found in 2013 in the woods off West Street.
Last year, those remains were identified through DNA analysis as those of Carol Shapiro of Manchester, who was 43 years old when she went missing from her North Main Street apartment in August 2007.