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Authorities search in wooded area in Manchester, N.H. for woman who vanished in 1980

Authorities are searching a wooded area in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday in hopes of locating the remains of a mother of two who disappeared in 1980, an investigation that regained interest after New Hampshire investigators tracked the life and death of a serial killer with ties to that city.

Denise Denault when she was last seen on June 8, 1980 and law enforcement plans to spend Tuesday searching a wooded area off 541 Kimball St., the same place they searched last year for several days without solving the missing person’s case.

Denault, who was the mother of two children, was 25 years old at the time of her disappearance. Her children, now adults, are being kept apprised of the search - which includes special agents from the FBI - by New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s officfe.

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New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the Denault investigation is considered a missing person’s case and is not connected to any other criminal investigation.

However, he said, the success his office and New Hampshire State Police and California authorities in learning the true identity of serial killer Terry Peder Rasmussen generated new attention to the Denault case.

Strelzin said Denault lived in the same Manchester neighborhood as Rasmussen who was then living in New Hampshire under the name of Robert T. Evans.Under that alias of Evans, Rasmussen and his then-girlfriend, Denise Beaudin, along with Beaudin’s six-year-old daughter left Manchester in November 1981.

Beaudin was never seen again and authorities are still hoping to determine what happened to her after she left New Hampshire. Her daughter was abandoned by Rasmussen - then using the alias of Gordon Jenson - in a California RV park in June 1986, authorities have learned.

The child was adopted and once she was an adult, she launched a search for her biological family. With the help of relatives, genealogists, DNA experts and law enforcement agencies, the girl known as Lisa learned who her mother was, and who the man was she vaguely remembered from her childhood.

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Strelzin, who helped lead the Rasmussen investigation for New Hampshire, said at this point, investigators do not have a link between Denault and Rasmussen - or anyone else.

“We don’t know what happened to her,” he said.

Rasmussen died in a California prison in December 2010 where he was serving a sentence for murdering his girlfriend. He is suspected of killing at least three women and three children, including his own daughter whose body was found in a metal barrel found in Allenstown.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.