Missing NH girl's body found in river near home - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Missing NH girl's body found in river near home

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New Hampshire State Police officers watch as a woman identified by the NH Attorney General's office as Celina Cass's mother, under blanket, is escorted from the family home in Stewartstown, N.H., Wednesday, July 27, 2011. New Hampshire State Police officers watch as a woman identified by the NH Attorney General's office as Celina Cass's mother, under blanket, is escorted from the family home in Stewartstown, N.H., Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

STEWARTSTOWN, N.H. (AP) — The body of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl who disappeared almost a week ago was discovered Monday in a river less than half a mile from her home, authorities said. The death was being considered suspicious.

Celina Cass was reported missing July 26. Fish and Game divers found the body late Monday morning near a hydroelectric dam that spans the Connecticut River between Stewartstown and Canaan, Vt., and the body was removed from the river Monday evening, said New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young.

"We have brought Celina home, obviously not the way we wanted to bring her home," said Young, her voice breaking with emotion.

Authorities had said that Celina, who lived with her older sister, mother and stepfather a mile from the Canadian border, was last seen at a computer around 9 p.m. July 25 and was gone the next morning. Police said there was no sign of a struggle, and there was no indication she ran away or that someone took her.

Young declined to say whether there are any suspects in the girl's death. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday to determine the cause and manner of death.

Friends and family described Cass as studious, reliable, shy and timid. Her disappearance drew more than 100 federal, state and local law enforcement officers to Stewartstown, a town of 800 residents. Because of its remote location, law enforcement officers went so far as to have a cellphone tower erected to assist in communications.

State police and FBI agents from as far away as New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia turned the local school into a bustling command post and searched a mile-wide area around the home. The FBI brought in a special team specializing in child abductions.

According to several media outlets, Cass's stepfather was taken to a hospital Monday morning. MSNBC reported that Wendell Noyes was taken by ambulance after repeatedly laying down in the family's driveway and rolling around, and video showed him dropping to his knees in the driveway and then laying face-down, with his head resting on his hands.

A spokeswoman for Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, in Colebrook, N.H., said she couldn't comment on whether Noyes was taken to the hospital.

In 2003, Noyes was involuntarily committed to New Hampshire Hospital in Concord after he entered his girlfriend's house in the middle of the night and threatened to throw her down stairs, according to court documents. An order signed by a probate judge indicated Noyes suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and believed corrections officials implanted a transmitter in his body to keep track of him.

A court motion filed by his attorney at the time indicated Noyes served in Operation Desert Shield before receiving a medical discharge from the Air Force because of schizophrenia. The attorney didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

___

Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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