CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The grandmother of an 11-year-old girl found dead in a river four years ago says the mystery surrounding the child’s death gets harder and harder to deal with as the years drag on.
Marcia Laro says she’s often asked if there have been any developments regarding her granddaughter Celina Cass, who was last seen hunched over a computer in her family’s apartment in West Stewartstown on July 25, 2011.
“We can’t say anything because we don’t know anything,” she said Friday.
Celina’s body was found a week later in the Connecticut River, after hundreds of law enforcement officers had searched in vain for days. Reward funds were set up by the FBI and others.
Four years later, no one has been charged with her death, which investigators have called a homicide. The mystery remains a haunting presence in her small town.
“This remains a very active and ongoing investigation, despite that fact that four years have passed since Celina’s murder,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young.
Authorities said an autopsy failed to pinpoint the cause and manner of her death, but the details of the exam and toxicology tests were never released.
Laro has her doubts about the investigation. “We haven’t heard from anybody for well over a year,” she said from her home in nearby Columbia. “We just feel like it’s gone cold.”
Young said there has been an ongoing dialogue on the case among investigators, and that victim advocates haven been in touch with family members.
“We have not had any type of budgetary constraint on this,” Young said. “We have taken a lot of steps that aren’t seen in the public eye … we have not come to the end of this case.”
Laro said it’s especially hard on Celina’s father, Adam, Laro, who has been ill and recently had a heart operation. She’s lost touch with Celina’s mother, Luisia Cass.
At the time of her disappearance, Celina lived with her 13-year-old sister, her mother, her stepfather, Wendell Noyes, and 22-year-old Kevin Mullaney — the son of one of Luisia’s former boyfriends.
Mullaney and Noyes were subpoenaed to testify at grand jury proceedings on Celina’s case. Court documents show that Noyes had a history of psychiatric issues and was declared unfit to stand trial in a 2003 case in which he was charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home and threatening her.
The Associated Press was unable to find a current phone number for Luisia Cass, who separated from Noyes soon after her daughter’s body was recovered.
Celina’s home is now gone. It was razed after being heavily damaged by fire in December 2013. The fifth-grader, who played basketball on her school team in nearby Canaan, Vermont, is buried in a cemetery in Groveton.
“She was such a sweet little girl,” Laro said. “When she came to visit she was always bubbly and liked to play games, and always had to brush my dog. She was so cute, always talked about school.”