August 11, 2009
Family has somber birthday wish
Parents of missing Killawog woman asks for public’s help on daughter’s 42nd birthday
KILLAWOG — Still without answers to her daughter Bethanie Dougherty’s disappearance more than a year ago, Avis Dufresne holds on to the memories.
“I’ll think of her all day long and of course she’s in my heart,” Dufresne said Monday when called at her Homer residence.
Monday was Bethanie Dougherty’s 42nd birthday and her family is once again asking the public’s help for information leading to her whereabouts.
The mother of three disappeared from her home on Jennings Creek Road in Killawog April 2, 2008, during the early morning hours.
An investigation has yet to turn up clues.
“I’m just trying to keep on the positive level today,” Dufresne said.
She recalled a family gathering at their home on Evergreen Street sometime in the 1980s, when she, Bethanie and other family members were in the kitchen doing the dishes.
Spurred by their laughter, they began splashing the water at each other, leaving large puddles on the kitchen floor.
“We were just so hysterical,” Dufresne said. “We said we had fun and cleaned the kitchen floor all at the same time.”
Dufresne and Bethanie’s father, Terry Curtis, said nothing special had been planned by the family for Dougherty’s birthday.
“It’s kind of a quiet day,” Curtis said.
In a letter sent Friday to local news media, Curtis gave fond wishes to his daughter and conveyed his feelings regarding her disappearance.
“I wish her a happy birthday and hope she is doing well wherever she is,” Curtis wrote. “It will not be a happy day for me unless I can hug her and give her a kiss on the cheek and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Curtis said Monday he has had periodic talks with investigators from the Broome County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling the case.
“They haven’t had any calls (about Bethanie) in a long time,” Curtis said.
Curtis said he is certain someone knows what happened to his daughter and where she is.
A year ago, Dufresne said she would have had difficulty believing there would still be so few answers.
“Sometimes I think in my mind that she’s gone and we’ll never see her again,” Dufresne said.
In his letter, Curtis also says he understands whoever is responsible might not want to come forward. But he asks the person to find a way to tell the family where Bethanie is — if he or she has a conscience.
“If this sounds like I am begging, I guess I am. Nothing else we have tried so far has worked,” Curtis writes in the letter.
Dougherty has three children, Logan, 19; Josh, 16; and Samantha, 15, who are now living with their father, Pat McMahon of Marathon. Bethanie and McMahon divorced in 1997 and she married her second husband, Bill Dougherty, in 2001.
Dufresne said she sometimes doubts if the case of her daughter’s disappearance will ever be solved.
She said she does not believe the police are working on the case as diligently as they should.
Sgt. Jason Ellis of the Broome County Sheriff’s Department said cases investigated by his agency never go cold and Dougherty’s disappearance is no exception.
“We don’t have cold cases ... we always look into every avenue,” Ellis said.
Although the case remains an open investigation, Ellis said there has been little in the way of new information.
“There have been no leads that have led us to locate Bethanie at this point,” he said.
The night Bethanie Dougherty disappeared, screams could be heard around 3:30 a.m., her neighbors told police.
Dougherty had been scheduled to work at an Xtra-Mart in Dryden at 6 a.m. the day she disappeared.
There have been numerous search efforts to locate Dougherty since she disappeared, but there are none active now.
Despite the time elapsed, Ellis said the Sheriff’s Department is not ruling out the possibility she could still be alive.
“There is no presumption, we have no evidence to indicate she’s deceased,” Ellis said.
Dougherty’s family does not believe she disappeared willingly.
“It seems that whoever did this was extremely good at covering their trail,” Curtis writes in his letter.
Ellis said anyone with information regarding Dougherty is encouraged to contact the Broome County Sheriff’s Department at 607-778-1911. He said anyone with information can remain anonymous.
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