Missing NH Children's Bodies May Have Been Found
July 16, 2003 -- A
father of two, once in a heated custody battle with his ex-wife, is in custody of police. Manuel Gehring is suspected of killing
his children, aged 14 and 11. His daughter, Sarah, and her younger brother, Philip, had been on a 4th of July visitation
in Concord, New Hampshire with their father when they were last seen, but when Manuel Gehring, 44, was arrested in California
last Thursday, his children were not with him.
Sadly, the two-week-long nationwide search for the missing children, presumed
dead, may be over. Officials have not confirmed, but their bodies may have been found in the Midwest, according to Capital
News 9. There is some speculation that the authorities flew Gehring to the Midwest to help search for the bodies. His defense
is concerned that he has been in custody for two days, taken out of town by police without benefit of counsel.
Authorities were able to trace Gehring's 3,200-mile cross-country trip
from New Hampshire to California through credit card transactions, but had no way of knowing where the children were. They
were last seen with their father at a fireworks display in Concord on July 4. Witnesses spotted Gehring arguing with his daughter
as they left the fireworks display, and the children were crying as they drove off. The case is now considered a double homicide.
Gehring's trip ended with his arrest in a Gilroy, California, hotel room on Thursday -- nearly a week later.
Gehring was embroiled in a custody dispute with his ex-wife over the children.
Authorities began the search for the three of them in what was initially described as a missing persons case after he failed
to return the children to his ex-wife as expected.
The FBI received a tip on Sunday, and police unsuccessfully searched for
the children's bodies in Toledo, Ohio. Investigators used a helicopter to scour a 20- to 30-square-mile area near Toledo along
the route the children's father took. The FBI and the Ohio State Highway Patrol searched parks and open spaces in the Toledo
area by air and on foot for seven hours but failed to find the children, dead or alive
Authorities don't believe the children were killed in New Hampshire. Authorities
have been searching for the children and for clues to what happened to them along Interstate 80 in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois,
Iowa, and Nebraska. Police tracked his route westward through credit card charges, which showed stops on July 5 in Newburgh,
NY, and Emlenton, PA; July 6 in Joliet, Illinois, and Iowa City, Iowa; July 7 in Greenwood, Nebraska; July 8 in Winnemucca
and Sparks, Nevada; July 9 in Rocklin, North Highlands, and San Francisco, California; ending up on July 11 in Gilroy.
Investigators would not initially say what was found in Gehring's green
Pontiac van found at the Gilroy hotel, or what led them to northwest Ohio. The Boston Globe is quoting a law enforcement source
as saying a gun, a shovel and other digging tools were found in the van in California after Gehring was arrested. Authorities
have said only that the father is the only suspect in the case. He is accused of being a fugitive from justice and interfering
with child custody, but arraignment has been postponed.
Secrecy is now surrounding the case. New Hampshire law enforcement officials
canceled a news conference planned for yesterday afternoon. Authorities in New Hampshire and California declined to say why
they believed the children had been killed, or if Gehring, an accountant who was laid off from his job last month, had confessed.
The arrest of the father, described by neighbors as a devoted and caring parent, shocked many friends and neighbors.
-- Edited and excerpted from articles written by John McElhenny and Eddy Ramirez in the Boston Globe, WNDU.tv, Capital News 9, AP/5 Eyewitness News, and by Farah Stockman and Eddy Ramirez of the Boston Globe