Abigail Hernandez was last seen three days before her 15th birthday in North Conway, NH. She was reported missing by her mother on October 9, 2013.
Not much is known about what happened to Abby, and the few facts available in the case are strange and at times contradictory.
We know for sure Abby went to school on the day of her disappearance. The last confirmed sighting of Abby is on her school’s surveillance camera, which shows her walking through the hallway. She had a backpack with her and an iPhone in her hand. She was alone.
A friend claims to have seen Abby walking home from school at about 2:30 that afternoon, and no one reports seeing anything suspicious. Abby was texting for about a half hour after this last sighting, with her last text, a heart symbol, being sent to her boyfriend a little after 3:00 PM.
By all accounts, Abby’s mother reported her missing on the evening of October 9, 2013, as soon as she got home from work. Some fine it strange, how quickly law enforcement reacted, immediately calling in state police, the FBI and the Secret Service for assistance with the investigation. There was no talk of a possible run away. Abby’s home was quickly sealed off, and was treated as a crime scene, though police said repeatedly they had no evidence a crime had been committed.
A massive search was launched, and through daily press briefings, law enforcement and the state’s attorney’s office would give daily “updates” about the case. Very little by way of information was released during these gatherings, but still, they continued.
Law enforcement set up roadblocks as part of their search effort, stopping cars along the route Abby is believed to have taken home on the afternoon of October 9. This was a busy time of year in North Conway, as many tourists were in the area to view the fall foliage. This area is an annual tourist attraction due to its unrivaled scenery and quaint lodges. It’s believed investigators pulled surveillance footage from neighboring businesses, though it’s unknown if Abigail was seen in any of the videos.
The woods were searched extensively, with human remains, unrelated to Abby’s case, having been found as a result.
Initially, investigators stated they believed Abby had made it home on the afternoon she went missing. This, they claimed, was based on the work of K-9s, who were able to follow Abby’s scent to her home. It was never determined whether there was any other evidence to support this belief. More recently, authorities have said they do not know if she made it home or not.
It was said early on that Abby was believed to have walked her “normal” route home. Later, however, Abby’s mother told the media that her daughter did not typically walk home, and that she was supposed to have ridden the bus on the day she vanished.
Days into the investigation, a report emerged that Abby had made a call on the evening she vanished, at around 6:30 PM. This call was said to have pinged off a nearby cell tower on Cranmore Moutain, a popular ski and tourist area a few miles away. During a press conference with law enforcement and the state’s attorney present, a member of the media asked one of the Fish and Game officers if that report was true. The officer confirmed the legitimacy of the report, and agreed that a call was made from Abby’s phone the evening she went missing, at around 6:30 PM.
Afterwards, however, investigators directly contradicted that report, and said publicly it was not true.
Police have asked people to be on the lookout for Abigail’s missing cell phone, an iPhone with a pink and gray case. Strangely, while Abby is also seen in the surveillance footage at her school carrying her backpack, and investigators claim to have no idea if she made it home that day or not, there has been no public plea to look for her bag, or a description of what it looks like. This, despite the fact that the surveillance at her school is reportedly the last confirmed sighting of her.
Has her bag already been located? Was it found at her home on the night she went missing, perhaps?
Law enforcement has always stated they do not know whether or not Abby was abducted, or whether she vanished on her own. Despite the massive police presence, and immediate involvement of multiple investigating agencies, it remains a “missing person’s” case.
While refusing to publicly discuss Abby’s father, he has been ruled out as a suspect, along with her mother and older sister. Abigail’s boyfriend is not considered a suspect either, and the same holds true for her boyfriend’s father, who also shared a close relationship with the teen.
Many have said they believe investigators have much more information than they have released publicly. Others think law enforcement has no idea what happened to Abigail, and are simply trying to be as thorough as possible.
There has been speculation that Abigail’s mother, Zenya Hernandez, believes her daughter ran away, based on the statements she’s made asking anyone who noticed any changes in Abby’s behavior in the days leading up to her disappearance to contact authorities. She has addressed her daughter directly during press conferences, but has made no mention of an abductor, or anyone who may have taken her.
Rumors run rampant, with some even wondering aloud if Abby’s father is somehow involved in the military, or law enforcement, prompting the quick response from so many different investigative agencies. For weeks after she went missing, law enforcement refused to answer any questions about him, and would not identify him. He was not present at any press conferences.
Eventually, however, he wrote his daughter a public letter, pleading with her to let everyone know she is safe. He asked that she post her favorite bible verse so that he would know it was her reaching out, and not an impostor or her abductor.
The area is no stranger to tragedy. In recent years, the region has mourned the disappearances and subsequent murders of Celina Cass and Krista Dittmeyer. Krista’s murderers were quickly caught, while Celina’s case remains unsolved. All three cases have been handled by the same state’s attorney, with some speculation that this fact explains the extreme and immediate response and involvement of law enforcement when Abby was reported missing.
Since she disappeared, Abigail Hernandez has turned 15 years old. She has missed Thanksgiving, and her family needs to know where she is, and what happened to their beloved daughter.