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Abby's home safe! Conway teen was missing for 286 days

(This article was written by staff members of The Conway Daily Sun.)

CONWAY — She's home, safe and sound.

North Conway teen Abigail Hernandez was reunited safely with her family Sunday evening, according to a statement issued Monday afternoon by authorities. Hernandez, of North Conway, disappeared last Oct. 9 after leaving Kennett High School. She vanished just days before her 15th birthday.

Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, Conway Police Chief Edward Wagner, New Hampshire State Police Colonel Robert Quinn and FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent in Charge William Scott O'Donnell issued the following statement Monday:

"(We) are pleased to announce that Abigail Hernandez was safely reunited with her family yesterday evening. The facts and circumstances surrounding Abigail's disappearance continue to be actively investigated by members of the agencies noted above. Further details will be provided once it has been determined that releasing additional information will not compromise the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation. Law enforcement thanks the public for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation over the past months and continues to welcome the public's assistance as the investigation continues."

The statement added that "the Hernandez family has requested privacy as they assist with the law enforcement efforts and as they spend time supporting and caring for Abigail."

The press release quoted Zenya Hernandez, Abigail's mother, as saying, "Today we are the happiest people on Earth."

Very few details were available Monday. Jane Young, of the Attorney General's office, said more information may be available for release on Tuesday.

Young did say that Abigail Hernandez is in "good condition," and she added, "She's been reunited with her family. They are ecstatic that she is home. We have investigators out working to find answers to all the questions, and our focus will continue to be that.

Kieran Ramsey of the FBI called The Conway Daily Monday afternoon from Cape Cod, where he is on vacation.

"The details about how she returned home, and other stuff behind the scenes we are not commenting on outside of the four corners of the press statement, other than to thank the media for keeping the story out there and everyone for their efforts," said Ramsey. "All else will come out in the wash, and the investigation continues. We are all collectively happy that she is safe and sound and that she is home."

The Conway Police Department referred all calls to the Attorney General's office.

The website, Bringabbyhome.com, posted the following statement Monday afternoon:

"Abby is safely home with her mom and sister! Family requests privacy right now. Thank you to everyone who has shared fliers, offered help and support. We cant thank you enough! We will keep you all updated. THANK YOU!

The post contained a photograph, showing the words "thank you" in several different languages.

Bringabbyhome volunteer Amanda Smith posted this message on her Facebook account:

"I want to personally say a HUGE thank you to everyone," wrote Smith. "You will never understand how much so many of you have helped me push on in the last nine months. My heart is beyond overjoyed for my friend. She has her baby girl back! Thank you to everyone who shared fliers, posted fliers, offered emotional support. You all are amazing. And thank you Jesus, she's home!"

Paul Kirsch, who ran the website Bringabbyhome.com and organized much of the volunteer effort to find her, wrote this message on his Facebook account.

"Thanks everyone who has kept Abby in their thoughts, prayers and shared posts, posters, bought magnets, and everything else to keep hope alive," said Kirsch. "It reminds me of all that is good in my community and the world."

Kirsch thanked Smith for her efforts.

"Most importantly, a huge, huge thanks to Amanda Smith, who has been more than anyone could ever ask for in a friend in terms of what she has done for the Hernandez family and keeping up all of the online activity, posts, sharing and amazing energy," said Kirsch. "She's been diligently doing a daily post every single day since October, never, ever giving up hope."

Numerous people wrote in on the Conway Daily Sun's Facebook account to share their relief.

"Even living in Ohio (raised in and graduated from the valley) I had been glued to this story," wrote Nicholas Tozier. "Never thought there would be a happy ending.. Amazing!"

Since her disappearance, the teen sent one letter home at the end of October and had not been heard from again. Law enforcement, ranging from the local police to the FBI, were involved in the search. National media outlets ran the story repeatedly.

The FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Abby's return. Her mother, Zenya Hernandez, offered a $10,000 reward. Abby's father and Zenya's former husband, Ruben Hernandez, added to the pot, by offering an additional $30,000 bringing the total reward to $60,000 for any information that led to Abby's safe return.

Signs were posted throughout the region. The Conway Daily Sun posted a notice on Page 2 of every issue, listing the days since she had been missing. Saturday's total stood at 285 — meaning she was reunited with her family on the 286th day Sunday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Franklin woman alleged to have scored heroin at Laconia 'beach'

CIRCUIT COURT — A Franklin woman was ordered held on $7,500 cash-only bail yesterday following her appearance in the 4th Circuit court – Laconia Divison for allegedly possessing three separate types of controlled and illegal drugs, including heroin.

Tamaralynn Sirard, 54, of 164 Sanborn Hill Road is charged with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute it, one count of possession of Ritalin, and one count of possession of Valium.

According to police affidavits obtained from the court, police said they were notified by a caller from the informal "Davis Place Beach" on the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia that a "skinny woman in a bikini" was involved in a drug transaction.

The caller said he or she heard them say "this is all I can afford" and said the woman was holding something in her hand. The caller told police the woman was a passenger in a tan Ford Contour.

Two Laconia detectives drove an unmarked cruiser to Highland Street where they said they saw a tan Ford Contour. They followed the car and stopped it at Tyler Street Market.

After identifying one of the people in the car as Simard, police asked her if she had been involved in a drug deal at the river beach and she allegedly told them she hadn't done anything wrong.

Affidavits said she volunteered her handbag. When police checked it they found a clear plastic baggie contained six smaller baggies that contained a brown powdery substance consistent with heroin.

They also found a pill vial with a more brown powdery substance and $350 in cash and the contents later field tested positive for heroin.

Police also found three Valium pills and one Ritalin pill.

Affidavits said Simard agreed to a search of her car. While performing the search they said Simard sat at the side of Tyler Street Market. At one point, a police officer saw two hypodermic needles stuffed into the siding. Simard admitted to one of the detectives that the needles were hers.

Once in jail, affidavits said corrections officers found a hidden compartment in her purse that contained item typically associated with heroin use including a burned spoon and a lighter.

At her court appearance yesterday, City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said Simard has a lengthy criminal record that dates back to the 1980s. He said she was sentenced to two and one-half to 10 years in N.H. State prison for a possession of narcotic charge in 2006 from Merrimack County.

He said she was a danger to the public and asked for $20,000 cash-only bail.

Public Defender Justin Littlefield argued that she had a permanent address and had for a while, was the caretaker for one person and had an elderly father who just had open heart surgery.

He said she hasn't had any infractions or parole violation since 2006 and that he believes she may have recently suffered some kind of a relapse.

Littlefield added that while on parole, Simard was very active in the community and in schools by going and speaking out against drug abuse.

He said she had been in a significant car crash and not only was in a lot of pain but suffered some brain damage and memory loss. He said she needs medication she can't get in jail.

Carroll determined $20,000 personal recognizance bail and $7,500 cash was appropriate.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:16

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Seeking U.S. Senate seat, Rubens stakes out his own territory

LACONIA — Jim Rubens, one of the three Republicans seeking the Republican nomination to the United States Senate, last evening brought his campaign to the Public Library where less than a dozen people were on hand to hear and question the candidate.

A businessman from Hanover, who served two terms in the New Hampshire Senate in the 1990s, Rubens is vying with Scott Brown of Rye and Bob Smith of Tuftonboro in the primary for the bid to challenge Jeanne Shaheen, the incumbent Democrat.

"I'm a thoughtful person. I'm a principled person. And I'm a statesman," Rubens old his listeners. Recalling his career as a state senator, he touted his part in the success of legislation to establish charter schools, deregulate the electric industry and introduce official ballot voting (SB-2). After leaving the Senate, he became an outspoken opponent of casino gambling and an equally determined champion of measures to address global warming.

Although Rubens has been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, a pressure group with a libertarian flavor, his place on the political spectrum is his own. He prides himself on offering "bold ideas" and no issue is beyond his reach. Calling Congress "corrupt to the bone," he favors a plan for public financing of elections that appeals across the aisle. While generally opposed to government regulation of the private sector, he calls for restoring the separation between commercial and investment banking, which was a centerpiece of the deregulation of financial services. Insisting "the oil industry has a lock on the Republican Party," he believes that free markets and solar can lead to energy abundance and independence in 10 to 20 years. He supports women's right to choose abortion, along with requiring parental notification for minors.

Rubens repeatedly hearkened to the "very serious problems" facing the country and echoed the apocalyptic vision common amongst more populist Republicans. He referred to the "constitutional meltdown" and the "economy gone haywire" and warned against the overreach of the federal government reflected by the introduction of Obamacare and machinations of the Federal Reserve System.

"America is going to burn down," Rubens declared, "if we don't do something. We can't wait another six years while Jeanne Shaheen is dancing on the graveyard of the American economy."

At the same time, pressed by Joshua Youseff, an unsuccessful candidate for the N.H. Senate in 2012, he cautioned "we're not going to shrink government overnight. And when Bill Baer, who is awaiting trial after his arrest at a meeting of Gilford School Board, asked how he would respond to the crisis in Ukraine, he said "I'm trying to take a practical view, " noting that some Republicans are clamoring to "bomb someone. I have reservations," he continued, "about committing soldiers to places around the world where there no good guys."

"I'm only touching on some of the problems," remarked Rubens, whose appetite for debating public policy is virtually inexhaustible. The next seven weeks will tell whether he can slake or spoil the appetite of primary voters.

Rubens is facing former Senator Bob Smith and former Mass. Senator Scott Brown in the Republican Primary Election, which is Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 10:32

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Workers now replacing Main Street Bridge steel that was put in place about 90 years ago

LACONIA — With the second stage of the rehabilitation of the Main Street Bridge over the Winnipesaukee River well underway, the reconstruction of the original bridge has become the centerpiece of the project.

The bridge consists of three spans. The central span, built in the 1920s, aligns with Main Street and served as the lone crossing of the river until 1968 when the sections carrying Beacon Street East and Beacon Street West were added and joined to the existing bridge with the reconfiguration of downtown. Four years later the central span was improved.

The rehabilitation of the bridge is proceeding from east to west in four stages. During the first phase, which was completed last month, the concrete deck was replaced and the steel stringers and concrete abutments were rehabilitated on the Beacon Street East section. Next year, in the fourth phase of the project, the deck will be replaced and the stringers and abutments rehabilitated on the Beacon Street West section.

Meanwhile, this month and next, work will proceed on the oldest section of the bridge, where the steel stringers bearing the original deck will be replaced in the second and third phases of the project. Director of Public Works Paul Moynihan said yesterday that altogether eight steel girders, each approximately 75 feet long and weighing about 5.5 tons, will be set in place on rehabilitated abutments. The easterly stringers will be installed this month and the westerly stringers next month. At the same time, a beam that runs laterally across the Main Street Section of the bridge will be lowered.

Main Street will remain open to traffic while work progresses.

Work on the Beacon Street West section of the bridge will proceed between March and July 2015 in tandem with the construction and landscaping of the "Gateway Plaza" north of the bridge at the foot of Main Street. The entire project is expected to be finished by August next year.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 01:05

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