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Severely Handicapped 3-Year-Old Believed Kidnapped From Crib Found Alive

August 16, 1985

DERRY, N.H. (AP) _ A handicapped 3-year-old girl who apparently was abducted from her crib was found Thursday next to an abandoned railroad bed about a half-mile from her home, covered with mosquito bites, police said.

Rachel Pickering, who evidently spent part of the night outdoors after disappearing late Wednesday, was treated at a hospital for scratches and insect bites and released, police said.

The child, who can’t talk or walk or eat solid food, is a victim of Rett Syndrome, a rare disease, said her mother, Cheryl Frass.

″It had to be someone who knew she was vulnerable, that she couldn’t scream, or that she couldn’t help herself,″ Fraas said Thursday before the child was found. ″She’s helpless. There is no way she can let anybody know that she is with a stranger.″

″She can’t eat solid foods.... Her food will go down her windpipe. She can’t drink out of a cup,″ the mother said.

Police said the child was found around 4:30 p.m. about 200 feet from a main road after a search by 20 men and dogs. She had a bruise on her back.

At a news conference before the girl was found, Police Chief Edward Garone said that because of the girl’s inability to walk, ″or even crawl but for a very short distance,″ it appears obvious that the child ″had been removed from the crib by another party.″

There was no evidence of forced entry and no contact from anyone claiming responsibility for the girl’s disappearance, said Garone.

Fraas and her roommate, Melissa Payson, said the girl disappeared moments after Payson saw her in the crib.

″Five minutes, that was it. Five minutes. That’s all it took. They had to have known where her room was to go in there and be out of there in that length of time,″ said Fraas, who bore the child of a father who since has left the releationship.

The father was not suspected in the disappearance, said Garone.

Payson said she saw Rachel shortly after 9 p.m. sitting up in the crib, clapping, ″and I said to her, ‘Why aren’t you sleeping?’ So I laid her down and she started laughing. I gave her a bottle.″

She said she went downstairs to another apartment to tell Fraas she was going to leave, then went back upstairs with another friend to look for something and noticed the child was gone.

″She was just gone,″ Payson said. ″I came out here (outside) and I didn’t see a thing. I didn’t even hear a noise.″

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