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Kidnapped 3-year-old Found Alive on Abandoned Railroad Track

August 16, 1985

DERRY, N.H. (AP) _ Searchers using dogs found a 3-year-old handicapped girl, covered with mosquito bites but otherwise safe, near an abandoned railroad bed 19 hours after she was apparently abducted from her crib.

Rachel Pickering, who suffers from Rett Syndrome and cannot walk or talk, was treated at a hospital and released Thursday night, a few hours after she was found a half-mile from her home.

Her mother, Cheryl Fraas, left the hospital with the child by a back door without talking to reporters.

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

″Five minutes, that was it. Five minutes,″ the mother said. ″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.″

Police Chief Edward Garone said a suspect was seen in the area of the girl’s downtown apartment and that searchers found the girl by estimating how far the person would have been able to go from the apartment in a given amount of time Wednesday night.

″It had to be someone who knew she was vulnerable, that she couldn’t scream, or that she couldn’t help herself,″ a tearful Fraas had said Thursday morning in pleading for her daughter’s return.

Garone said the father, who no longer lives with his family, was not a suspect.