CONCORD, N.H. — Nearly a year after an 11-year-old girl vanished from her northern New Hampshire home and was found slain a week later, no arrests have been made, and investigators still aren’t revealing details about her death.
The anniversary of Celina Cass’s disappearance and death has brought media back to West Stewartstown, population 800, but locals say the fear and anxiety never subsided.
‘‘It’s not an old wound,’’ said Shannon Towle, owner of the local convenience store. She said she and others are rankled daily by the lack of an arrest.
Senior assistant state’s attorney Jane Young said the investigation is active, with three state troopers from the nearby Twin Mountain barracks assigned nearly full-time. ‘‘Sometimes these cases are marathons, not sprints,’’ Young said. ‘‘It’s clearly not a cold case.’’
Celina’s body was retrieved from the Connecticut River on Aug. 1, near the borders of Canada and Vermont and less than a quarter-mile from her home. Prosecutors have labeled her death a homicide but have not revealed how she died.
Young acknowledged the community’s frustration with scant information from authorities, but she stressed that her goal is to bring Celina’s killer or killers to justice. That way, she said, authorities can ensure that they obtain firsthand information from any suspects, rather than details suspects have learned from news reports.
Celina’s disappearance launched a massive search unprecedented in recent state history, with more than 100 law enforcement officials turning the Stewartstown Elementary School into a makeshift barracks. Searchers used police dogs and helicopters. A mobile cellphone tower was trucked in to enhance communications between teams in the field.
Meanwhile, children under the watchful eye of parents distributed fliers bearing Celina’s picture to drivers on the town’s main thoroughfare, a stone’s throw from the girl’s house. She was last seen hunched over the family’s computer at about 9 p.m. July 25, after watching her favorite television show, ‘‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager,’’ with her mother.
Her Facebook page, which vanished shortly after she did, had the post, ‘‘You can’t stand to live with your family but you can’t stand to live without them,’’ with a heart where the punctuation would be.
Her body was located in the water near a dam and railroad trestle that is a popular fishing spot for locals, easily accessible by a wide dirt path and visible from the road. The vigil of hope turned to one of grief.
At the time of her disappearance, Celina lived with her sister, her mother, Luisia Noyes, her stepfather, Wendell Noyes, and 22-year-old Kevin Mullaney — the son of one of Luisia’s former boyfriends.
Mullaney and Wendell Noyes have been subpoenaed to testify at grand jury proceedings on Celina’s case.
Mullaney has been imprisoned since June 12 on convictions on charges unrelated to the Celina Cass investigation. Those charges include reckless conduct, receiving stolen property, possession of a weapon by a felon, and criminal mischief. He will not be eligible for parole until at least January 2014.
Wendell Noyes, 47, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was committed to a state psychiatric hospital in 2003 after breaking into the home of an ex-girlfriend and threatening to harm her. He has been in and out of hospitals since Celina disappeared.
Celina’s mother separated from Wendell Noyes within months of the teen’s disappearance, after a year of marriage.
Luisia Noyes’s cellphone is out of service, and she could not be reached for comment.