Missing girl, mom found in Berlin

NEWS – April 12, 2004
By Kimberly Houghton
Union Leader Correspondent

DERRY ? An 11-year-old girl missing since Feb. 13 was found safe
yesterday and is in the custody of the state?s Division of Children Youth
and Families, while her mother has been arrested.

Police discovered Kirsten White, formerly of 193 Rockingham Road, with
her mother, Dawn White, at an apartment in Berlin about 8 p.m. last
night. The mother has eluded police for two months after an investigation
began into the whereabouts of Kirsten, who has not been attending school
for several months.

?She is OK. She appears to be healthy,? Capt. Vernon Thomas said of
Kirsten. ?She was wearing clean clothes, and she did not appear to be
malnourished.?

In early February, police talked to Dawn White, 29, about her daughter?s
disappearance from the Derry Cooperative School District. After initial
questioning, the mother fled to New York.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was then informed
of Kirsten?s disappearance; the National Crime Information Center issued
a notice asking authorities to stop Dawn White for questioning.

?We had a hunch that they may try to reconnect with relatives in Berlin,?
Thomas said last night. Four detectives from the Derry Police Department
traveled to Berlin on Friday to canvass the area for the Whites.

The detectives spent the night in Berlin and circulated photographs of
the girl throughout the community, speaking with citizens and local
business owners, according to Thomas. He said police returned on Saturday
without any additional leads.

However, about 8 p.m. last night, an anonymous caller contacted
authorities to tell them that Kirsten and her mother were living at 575
Champlain St. in Berlin, the home of Dawn White?s mother, Thomas said.
Berlin police went to the address and found the mother and daughter
inside.

Dawn White was arrested without incident, and has been charged with a
violation of RSA 193:1, duty of a parent, compulsory attendance by a
pupil. Thomas said the violation, which alleges that Dawn White did not
have her child attending school, carries a monetary fine of up to $500 if
convicted. There is no jail time associated with the violation. Dawn
White was released last night from custody. A court date in Derry
District Court has not yet been scheduled.

?We have never understood why she fled and tried to hide the child from
us,? Thomas said. ?The most important thing is that we wanted to make
sure (Kirsten) was well, and she looks well.?

Kirsten White, who turned 11 last month, has been placed in a safe
environment, according to Thomas, who said officials from the DCYF now
have her in their care. A hearing in family court will soon be scheduled
to determine her fate, he said. ?

This remains an open investigation,? Thomas said, adding that Dawn White
could face charges of neglect or endangerment. In addition, relatives who
have been uncooperative with police may again be questioned, he said.

It is not clear how long the Whites have been living in Berlin. Thomas
thanked the Berlin Police Department for assisting in the investigation.

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