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April 5, 2008

 

Search called off for missing woman

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Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Search team members sign back in Friday afternoon at the Killawog fire station after spending the day searching for Bethanie Dougherty. Nearly a hundred searches failed to find the woman, who has been missing since late Wednesday night.

By IAN BOUDREAU
Staff Reporter
iboudreau@cortlandstandard.net

KILLAWOG — Police on Friday called off the major search effort launched to find a local woman missing since she was last seen at her home Tuesday.
“The investigation is moving into the next phase,” Capt. Michael Fedish, of the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, told dozens of volunteers.
Fedish said about 84 volunteers and family members have been assisting police in their search for Bethanie L. Dougherty, 40, who was reported missing from her 554 Jennings Creek home Wednesday.
He explained that since police have not received any leads that have directed them to target a specific area in their efforts, the large-scale ground search has been called off.
“We can’t just randomly search an area,” Fedish said. “None of the leads have given us a specific place to target.”
In another new development, police said Friday they are searching for a vehicle described as a mid-to-late 1990s Chevrolet S-10 style pickup truck that was reported in the area at the time of Dougherty’s disappearance.
Friends, family members, firefighters and police gathered in the Killawog Fire Station at about 4:30 p.m. Friday, when Fedish announced the large-scale search that included volunteers was called off. Several hugged each other and wiped tears from their faces.
Fedish said police now plan to search area lakes and waterways, including Dorchester Lake, not due to any new information, but to eliminate them from a list of possible places Dougherty might be found.
Several volunteers declined to comment to the Cortland Standard Friday evening.
Dougherty’s 18-year-old son last saw her at their home around 10 p.m. Tuesday, wearing purple pajamas.
At about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, State Police responded to a report of a woman screaming for help near Jennings Creek Road. Troopers checked the neighborhood, but could not find anything to substantiate the claim.
Dougherty was reported missing later that morning, and police said her pocketbook, cellular phone, and car all were still at her home.
Dougherty, known as “Buffy” to some of her friends, is a manager at a convenience store in Dryden, police said. She is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, 160 pounds, with red hair and green eyes. She is the mother of three children.
One of Dougherty’s sisters, Bobbie Jo Nuckolls, said Friday she was posting “missing person” fliers in Broome and Cortland counties in hopes of getting the word out.
Fedish said that over the course of two days of searching, police and volunteers scoured more than 200 acres of land and 24 miles of roadways, beginning at Dougherty’s house in Killawog and radiating outward.
The Broome County Sheriff’s office and the State Department of Forests both have searched the Tioughnioga River, from the Killawog bridge to Chenango Forks.