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Police Issue Amber Alert for Missing Child
Vermont State Police have issued an Amber Alert for a missing Braintree girl.
12-year-old Brooke Bennett was last seen Wednesday morning in Randolph.
"Obviously I'm upset. You just want her home. We want her back," Brooke's father, James Bennett, said tearfully.
James Bennett sat with his wife, Janet, as they tried their best to be strong. Pictures of Brooke are scattered throughout the home. Brooke lives with her mom in Braintree. The 12-year-old celebrates her birthday next month and her dad says she is already a typical teen.
"Of course, she is becoming a teen so she is interested in spending time with friends and doing sports. You know we are all for that. But we are not all for this," said James Bennett.
Brooke was last seen on surveillance video walking away from the Cumberland Farms in Randolph Wednesday morning. Police say she convinced her uncle to drop her off at the store so she could get a ride to visit a sick friend. But police say she really went there to meet a person she had been communicating with online through the popular social networking site MySpace.
"It is the family member's opinion that was a ruse to the family to get to that location. Members of the Vermont State Police Computers Crime Unit are currently examining the computer used by Miss Bennett in an attempt to isolate and identify when she was speaking with the online- the person online prior to her being reported missing," said Vt. State Police Capt. David Covell.
Vermont State Police describe the search as active and aggressive. Bennett is 5' 03" and weighs 98 pounds. She has brown hair with purple highlights and blue eyes. She was wearing blue jeans, a pink sweater and white sneakers with pink lettering. If anyone has seen her or has any information , call the Vermont State Police at (802) 234-9933.
Cyber-Link Triggers 1st Vermont Amber Alert
Dive Teams Search for Brooke Bennett, 12, Who May Have Met Up With Online Friend
By DAVID SCHOETZ
June 27, 2008
The search for a 12-year-old girl who police fear may have been taken by someone she met online has triggered the state of Vermont to issue its first Amber Alert.
Brooke Bennett of Braintree, Vt., has been missing since 9 a.m. Wednesday, when an uncle dropped her at a Cumblerand Farms convenience store in nearby Randolph. The girl had told her family she was being picked up by a female friend to visit the friend's relative at a hospital just across the state line in New Hampshire.
Police Analyze Missing Girl's Online Chats
Burlington, Vermont - June 27, 2008
As police search for a missing 12-year-old from Brookfield, they are focusing on her internet communications as potentially critical evidence that could help find her.
Specially trained investigators are already analyzing computers that they suspect Brooke Bennett may have used in recent months for online chatting that could have been with her pals-- or with a predator.
Police Find Few Clues in Search for Brooke Bennett
Randolph, Vermont - June 27, 2008
Police turned up few clues Friday in the search for a missing 12-year-old girl from Brookfield.
Brooke Bennett disappeared Wednesday morning-- prompting Vermont's first ever Amber Alert. The investigation is focused locally in central Vermont and nationally on the internet.
Witnesses saw Brooke outside a laundromat and Dunkin Donuts in Randolph Wednesday morning between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. She wasn't seen again-- but some of her clothes were found along route 65 in Brookfield.
Bennett was last seen on surveillance at Cumberland Farms. She enters the store with her uncle, he purchases coffee and some cigarettes, and they leave the store. Brooke walks left, her uncle goes right.
Vermont Police Release Surveillance Tape in Case of Missing 12-Year-Old Girl, FBI Joins Search
Saturday, June 28, 2008
As the FBI joined the search for a missing 12-year-old Vermont girl, state police on Friday released a surveillance video believed to show footage of one of the last glimses of Brooke Bennett before her disappearance.
State troopers had previously refrained from publicizing the footage from a security camera inside the Cumberland Farms store, where Brooke said she was meeting a female friend.
The tape shows the girl and her uncle walk into the shop, go to the register to buy something and then leave, each going in separate directions, with Brooke apparently walking away by herself.
She was seen about 45 minutes later inside the Randolph Village Laundromat, police said.
Surveillance Pictures Show Missing Girl
POSTED: 12:33 am EDT June 28, 2008
UPDATED: 9:53 am EDT June 28, 2008
BROOKFIELD, Vt. -- A convenience store surveillance camera captured images of Brooke Bennett, the 12-year-old who's been the subject of an Amber Alert, police said.
See video on the right side of page:
Rumors Hard On Missing Girl's Family
Randolph, Vermont - June 28, 2008
Another day of searching on Saturday, and still no sign of missing 12-year-old, Brooke Bennett. Brooke's family is holding out hope that their daughter will be found safe and alive, but the rumors around town are making the search difficult to bear.
Missing poster signs hang in the windows of storefronts in downtown Randolph, where Brooke Bennett was last seen on Wednesday morning. On many, people have added the words, 'still missing.' That's because there have been rumors that the young girl was found dead yesterday in Sunset Lake in Brookfield.
"There was an issue yesterday in South Royalton that they were taking posters down," said Brooke's father, Jim Bennett. "She wasn't found dead. The rumors aren't true."
The rumor wasn't just spread by word of mouth. On the social networking Web site, Facebook, people were writing on a special "Find Brook(e) Bennett" page that the 12-year-old was dead.
Search for Missing Girl Turns to Uncle's Property
By DAVE GRAM
June 30, 2008
The investigation of the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl zeroed in on her uncle Monday, with police searching his home while he was being arraigned on sex charges in an unrelated case, authorities said.
Michael Jacques, a registered sex offender who was one of the last people seen with Brooke Bennett before she vanished, pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault and was held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Vermont Police name uncle ’person of interest’ in search for girl
Monday, June 30, 2008
BETHEL, Vt. -The head of the Vermont State Police says the uncle of a missing 12-year-old girl is a "person of interest" in her disappearance.
Col. James Baker says the search continues for Brooke Bennett, of Braintree, who vanished after walking away from a Randolph convenience store Wednesday and was the subject of Vermont’s first-ever Amber Alert.
Michael Jacques, 42, of Randolph, a registered sex offender who had dropped Bennett off at the store, was charged Sunday with aggravated sexual assault in an unrelated case. Police say they developed information in the probe of Bennett’s disappearance that led them to charge Jacques — but not in the disappearance.
Brooke's Uncle Charged in Child Sex Ring
The story of the disappearance of Brooke Bennett in Central Vermont has taken an ugly turn. The police now say that the girl's uncle is involved in a sex ring and Monday he was formally charged with sexually assaulting another child.
According to court papers, Michael Jacques, 42, convinced a young relative that she was a part of an underground sex program called "Breckenridge" and repeatedly assaulted her over the last five years. Papers also state that Jacques told the girl that he would cut her throat if she did not go along with the program. But at this time, we do NOT know if Brooke Bennett was a victim of the same program.
Former Stepfather Implicated in Disappearance
White River Junction, Vermont - July 1, 2008
More twists today in the case of missing 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. Her former stepfather is now implicated in her disappearance.
Ray Gagnon, 40, of Texas is in federal custody in Vermont. The FBI said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that Gagnon is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence in the case.
"The FBI is in the process of bringing Mr Gagnon over to the federal side on charges of obstruction of justice, related to the obstruction of evidence to this investigation. And that's I can say at this point," said FBI Special Agent John Fikus.
Gagnon is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Wednesday in Burlington.
Earlier today, Vermont State Police said Gagnon sexually assaulted a minor in Randolph last summer, but he has not been charged in that case. Police are not saying who the victim was, but will say that it was not Brooke.
4 p.m. statement by Col. James Baker, Vt. State Police director
UPDATE ON MISSING BROOKE BENNETT
Date of Press Conference: July 1, 2008 at 4:00 PM
This case is making progress. We continue to have over fifty investigators working the investigation. The focus of today’s investigation continued with the search of the Jacques’ property. The New England K-9 team assisted in this search. We continue to gather evidence in the investigation.
As you know, Michael Jacques of Randolph, Vermont was arrested on Sunday for sexually assaulting a minor. As a bi-product of this investigation, the Vermont State Police have arrested Ray Gagnon of San Antonio, Texas for Aggravated Sexual Assault, which is in connection with Jacques’ arrest. Gagnon was placed in Federal Custody prior to his arrangement. Special Agent in Charge, John Pikus will comment on this further at the conclusion of my statement.
Michael Jacques continues to be a person of interest in the disappearance of Brooke Bennett.
Police Believe They Have Found Brooke's Body
Bethel, Vermont - July 2, 2008
A tragic end to the week-long search for Brooke Bennett.
Police believe they found remains of the 12-year-old girl late Wednesday afternoon in Randolph -- near the home of the uncle she was seen with in surveillance video the day she disappeared.
"It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I announce that we have located what we believe to be the remains of Brooke Bennett," said Col. James Baker, director of the Vermont State Police, at an evening press conference.
Baker said investigators had been optimistic they would find Brooke Bennett alive. But the body of the 12-year-old girl missing for the past week was found on Crocker Road in Randolph, near the home of her uncle, Michael Jacques.
Community Holds Vigil For Brooke Bennett
Randolph, Vermont - July 2, 2008
Family, friends and strangers gathered in Randolph on Wednesday night, at what was supposed to be a vigil to pray for the safe return of missing 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. Instead, it turned into a memorial to remember the bubbly girl.
A haunting silence, broken only by whispers of condolence and prayers, filled the air around the Gazebo on Main Street as over 200 people came together to mourn Brooke.
Friends offered condolences to Bennett's family, who had barely had time to process the news of her death.
"I don't know what to say," said Brooke's father, James Bennett. "I know that Brooke knows that we love her...and we'll always love her."
"Brooke, I miss you already, and I know you can hear me," Savanna said. "I love you so much and I'm glad you're in safe hands now."
The community is left feeling a sense of betrayal that something so shocking could happen so close. "It's just, I don't know what to think. It's really overwhelming," said a young girl who attended the vigil.
"It's really difficult to process and try to explain to her what's going on," said parent, Kim Abbot, of her daughter. "She's doing good. I have a lot of questions. A lot of whys."
They know those whys may never be answered, but pray that closure will one day come.
Cassandra Gagnon issued a plea: "I just ask that justice be done to the person that took my baby away."
Magi Bish offers comfort to Bennett family
(NECN) - A vigil scheduled for Brooke Bennett turned into a memorial Wednesday night, after the 12-year-old's body was discovered.
Among the supporters that attended the vigil are family members of other missing children cases. Magi Bish, the mother of Molly Bish was in Randolph, Vermont to comfort the Bennett family.
Magi says that her trip to Vermont is a "trip of love".
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25
At 9 a.m., Brooke Bennett, 12, of Braintree, is dropped off at Cumberland Farms in Randolph by her uncle, Michael Jacques, and a cousin. Family members told police she intended to meet her friend there and then visit a sick relative of the friend at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
A witness later reports seeing Brooke at about 9:45 a.m. at Randolph Village Laundromat.
At 9 p.m., Brooke is reported missing to police.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26
Clothing similar to what Brooke was wearing is found near Vermont 65 in Brookfield. A search by police and dogs in the area of the Brookfield Floating Bridge ensues.
Police say Brookes story of a trip to the hospital is a ruse and that she might have been bound for a meeting with an unknown person with whom she had communicated through MySpace.com, an online social networking site.
Vermont State Police post an Amber Alert, the states first.
FRIDAY, JUNE 27
Investigators focus on a possible online relationship that might have developed between Brooke and an unknown person. This case is about a MySpace visitation, Col. James Baker said.
State police dive teams search Sunset Lake, near where items belonging to Brooke were found.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29
State police arrest Brookes uncle, Michael Jacques, 42, of Randolph, on a charge of aggravated sexual assault on a minor after uncovering information during the investigation into Brookes disappearance.
MONDAY, JUNE 30
Jacques, a convicted sex offender, is charged in Vermont District Court in Chelsea and held for lack of $250,000. His victim tells police Jacques sexually assaulted her over the past five years beginning when she was 9 years old as an indoctrination into a program for sex called Breckenridge, according to a police affidavit. Police and FBI investigators search Jacques residence at 1850 E. Bethel Road in Randolph.
TUESDAY, JULY 1
Police arrest Raymond A. Gagnon, 40, of San Antonio, citing a charge of aggravated sexual assault on a minor. Gagnon, Brookes former stepfather, is transferred to federal custody and will be arraigned on obstruction charges in U.S. District Court in Burlington today.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2
FBI investigators reveal in court papers that according to a witness, Brooke returned to Jacques home in Randolph on the morning of June 25. The witness, the victim of Jacques sexual assaults that led to his arrest, told investigators Brooke was to be initiated into the Breckenridge sex club that day. The witness said Brooke went upstairs with Jacques on June 25 and she never saw her again.
At 4:45 p.m., police discover the remains of a young girl they believe to be Brooke near a sugarhouse in Randolph near Jacques home. An autopsy will be performed today to determine time and cause of death. Michael Jacques is charged with kidnapping Brooke.
Commentary: Somewhere between hope and despair.
Gagnon's friend in Texas: Like there were 2 people
By Kathy McCormack
Associated Press Writer / July 4, 2008
"When Kevin Grosenheider in San Antonio received a call early Monday from his friend, Raymond Gagnon, asking him to dispose of a safe, he decided to help him out."
"Grosenheider, who's in his late 50s, is quoted in the affidavit as saying he didn't know what was in the safe "but assumed it was child pornography."
That's not how Grosenheider remembered the conversation Thursday.
"They asked me what was in safe, (I said) 'I don't know. I had never seen the safe open,'" he told The AP. "I assumed it was something he didn't want (discovered)."
When asked about the child pornography reference, Grosenheider said, "That's the FBI.""
"Grosenheider, who lives with his fiancee and her 17-year-old daughter, has not been charged with any crime. He said he's known Gagnon for four years and that Gagnon had been renting the room for about six months.
He said Gagnon was his boss at Avanzar Interior Technologies in San Antonio, which provides seats and other interior parts for vehicles."
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Very informative article
VIDEO: Memorial/Family Speak
Brooke Bennett: A bright flame fades
July 4, 2008
By SARAH HINCKLEY Times Argus Staff
Those who knew Brooke Bennett, whether it was in the halls of Randolph High School or out on the lacrosse field, knew the young girl's enthusiasm for Halloween.
They also knew that contagious bright smile, the one splashed across television screens and newspapers nationwide this week. They knew Brooke's smile was genuine, not a pose.
Friends recalled a more personal side to the girl.
For Chris Decoteau, Brooke's bright blue eyes were what he remembered most about his dear friend. Decoteau, 14, admitted to having a crush on Brooke, and had enjoyed numerous phone conversations with her at the start of this summer vacation.
"I just know she was funny and nice, really nice," he said shyly. "She laughs easily
I also remember her laughing about the freckle on her toe
She didn't really care what people thought."
In the Amber Alert, issued the day after she disappeared and lifted within an hour of finding her body, the description of Brooke included purple highlights in her hair, pierced ears and that endearing freckle on her toe.
"He was going to date her, but now he'll never get the chance," said Langlois, standing in a circle with Decoteau and his older sister before the Wednesday night vigil.
Coach Miller recalled a particular aspect of Brooke's basketball game that became her signature.
"She had one of the best defenses," Miller said. "She had a defense we would call
'the octopus defense.' "
It consisted of arms flailing, holding off opponents, determined to block moves, like an octopus, she said. "She was tough," said Langlois about her teammate and friend. "She wouldn't put up with anybody."
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