Vermont AMBER ALERT Issued for Missing 12 Year Old Brooke Bennett … Missing Since 6/25/08, MySpace Connection
An AMBER ALERT has been issued for 12 year old Brooke Bennett from Braintree, VT. Brooke Bennett has been missing since 9 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008. An uncle dropped her at a Cumblerand Farms convenience store in nearby Randolph, VT. Brooke had told her parents that she was being picked up by a female friend and visiting a sick relative at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, NH. It is now believed by police that the story was a lie.
Bennett is 4 feet, 11 inches tall
weighs 98 pounds
she was last seen wearing a pink sweater, blue jeans and a pair of white sneakers with pink lettering.
Her hair has purple streaks and both of her ears are pierced on the top and bottom.
Police fear that 12 year old Brooke Bennett may have been taken by someone that she met online through the social networking Web site MySpace
Surveillance footage from the Cumberland Farms store, which police have so far declined to release, showed the girl being dropped off. Instead of meeting the friend, she is seen walking away from the store, alone, toward the village of Randolph, police say.
She was not reported missing by family members until 9 p.m. Wednesday night.
Early Thursday, clothing similar to what the girl had been wearing was recovered in Brookfield, 10 miles north of Randolph.
The discovery triggered an intense ground search of the area by the state police search and rescue team and dogs from two different departments. “The items have been sent to the Vermont Forensic Laboratory for examination,” according to the release.
Dive teams will search Sunset Lake today, a body of water near where the clothing was found, according to the State Police .
There are two MySpace account profiles. Talk about a contrast:
- Brooke Bennett MySpace Profile, BrOoKe
- Brooke Bennett MySpace Profile II, BrookiePie, “I’m a bitch and that’s why you love me!”
To further discuss the case and get updates, go to Scared Monkeys, Missing Persons forum; Brooke Bennett, Missing 12 Year Old
Authorities haven’t identified the person she was communicating with, but state police computer experts were analyzing the computer in a bid to learn more. They don’t know if it was a woman or a man.
The girl established her first MySpace account under her father’s supervision, but he later pulled the plug on it a couple of months ago after they learned about some of her activity on it, according to Bennett, 41, of Bethel, Vt.
“We told her when we set it up there that’s things you’re not gonna’ do,” he said. “We had a little respect problem after a month or so, so we shut it off. There was an issue, and we decided it was not appropriate for her to have it. We changed the password so she couldn’t use it,” he said.
She later set up an account from another computer, which Bennett said he didn’t know until a week ago. The girl lives with her mother in Braintree, not with Bennett.
But after Brooke Bennett was dropped off at the store by her uncle and cousin, she never made it to the hospital, and hasn’t been seen since.
Surveillance video from that day shows Brooke walking away from the store by herself towards the town of Randolph. When a family member in Brookefield found items of her clothing near her uncle’s home — the house where she was supposed to spend the night — it prompted an intensive search by police dogs and helicopters.
The investigation led by Vermont State Police has uncovered that MySpace, a popular social networking site, may have had something to do with her disappearance. After analyzing her computer, authorities learned that Brooke had been in contact with someone on the site days before she went missing. Investigators have not yet released the identity of that person.
Circumstances: Both photos shown are of Brooke. She was last seen on June 25, 2008 at a gas station in Randolph, Vermont. She may travel north to the Royalton, Vermont area or she may travel out of state. Brooke has a mole under her chin, a birthmark on her upper right arm, a scar on her calf, and her ears are double pierced. Her bottom teeth are discolored. When Brooke was last seen, she had purple highlights in her hair. She was last seen wearing a pink sweater, blue jeans, and white sneakers with pink lettering.
The logistics of where Brooke was last seen and where her clothes were found, the Floating bridge at Sunset Lake is actually about 7-8 miles away from the Cumberland Farms in Randolph where Brooke was last seen, so it’s doubtful she could have walked there.
According to reports, witnesses saw Brooke Bennett outside of a laundromat and Dunkin Donuts between the hours of 9:30 and 11:00 am in Randolph, VT. Police have also stated that some of her clothes were found lying beside Route 65 near the floating bridge. The clothes have been sent to the state forensic office.
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.
“We know she stayed in that area for a period of time… because we have witnesses that put her in that area,” says Vt. State Police Col. James Baker.
Police found several pieces of Brooke’s clothing lying beside Route 65 near the floating bridge Thursday. That prompted a search Friday of Sunset Lake– but that search turned up no new clues.
As police work to piece together the online correspondence that prompted Brooke Bennett of Braintree to arrange a meeting with an apparent stranger, experts are warning parents to keep tabs on their kids’ Internet use.
Gary Kessler, who teaches digital forensics at Champlain College, said a very low-tech approach can help prevent problems.
“You show an interest in kids’ lives, and you communicate those interests,” he told The Burlington Free Press. “It comes down to what kind of relationship you have with your kids.”
UPDATE VI: Search for missing 12-year-old girl widens
The search for a missing 12-year-old girl broadened Friday as the FBI joined in and police investigators turned to officials at MySpace.com, the online social networking site through which she had been communicating with an unknown person prior to her disappearance.
Experts in missing children say the Internet can be a dangerous place.
“The reality is that the internet is the predator’s new playground. They don’t have to lurk in bushes anymore, they can lurk in cyberspace,” said Marc Klaas, founder of the Klaaskids Foundation, of Sausalito, Calif.
“It provides them with a much greater degree of anonymity. It enables them to create any kind of a fantasy or fake life they want so they can use their well-honed manipulative skills to get close to the particularly vulnerable,” said Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter, Polly Klaas was abducted from a slumber party in 1993 and later found slain.