Missing for a year, girl is found in New York

By Joyce Pellino Crane, Globe Correspondent
May 13, 2004

Two days shy of a year since leaving her home in Chelmsford, Brianna
Bushey, 15, was found Monday on 42d Street in New York City by an
observant Port Authority police officer.

She was being detained in a juvenile facility in that city this week and
was expected to be returned to Massachusetts any day, where she would
probably be held in a juvenile center, according to Lieutenant Francis X.
Roark, who heads the Chelmsford Police Department’s investigative
services.

“Between the DYS, the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and her
mom, we’re going to make every effort to have her held and help her get
her head on straight,” said Roark.

Bushey, who was a McCarthy Middle School eighth-grader last year, ran
away on May 12, 2003, leaving behind her purse, clothing, makeup, and
money. Except for one attempt to call a male acquaintance from Lowell, no
one who knew her well heard from her during her disappearance.

When reached by phone Monday, Denise Bushey refused to comment on her
daughter’s situation. She had pursued several angles throughout the year
in an effort to find her daughter, including hiring a private
investigator. She stayed in touch with the town’s juvenile officer,
Kenneth Duane, whose investigation of Brianna Bushey’s disappearance led
him from Chelmsford to East Boston to Lynn and Saugus.

In a phone interview a few months ago, Duane said he worried that Bushey
might have gone to New York City, living in a subculture not penetrable
by police or suburban parents.

In the end, however, she surfaced long enough to catch the attention of a
police officer trained to watch for runaway teens, said Roark.

“The police officer was just doing good police work,” he said. “That’s
how he spends his day — doing field work, questioning kids.”

When questioned by the officer, Bushey’s responses were evasive, Roark
said, but she eventually divulged her true identity.

Roark said his police department’s dispatch center got a call from New
York officials at about 4 p.m. Monday.

Bushey is a 5-foot-7-inch blonde whose photo has been posted on the
website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of
Alexandria, Va., since she disappeared last year. Her case was described
in a Globe NorthWest article in September.

Last September, Duane said he met a 26-year-old man living in East Boston
who had welcomed Bushey into his home for several weeks. Duane refused to
identify the man, but said he was certain that the man’s tale was true
because he had photographs of Bushey and himself at a backyard cookout.

The man told Duane that after several weeks he left Bushey at a Saugus
hotel last fall and had not heard from her since.

“He eventually asked her to leave,” Duane said of the East Boston man.
“The last he knows of her is he took her down to Route 1″ in Saugus.

Duane said he had also encountered someone who had seen her with several
men near Logan Airport in November, and another tip brought him to Lynn,
where Bushey was supposedly living with another man.

“Never have I seen a kid who’s this young and this street smart . . .,”
Duane said in a phone interview this spring before she was located.
“She’s not afraid of the street. She’s not afraid of the ghetto. She’s in
with these guys who are not going to help you out.”

Denise Bushey was divorced from Brianna’s father, Jim Bushey, who was
living in Tuftonborough, N.H., in September. He could not be reached for
comment Tuesday.

When Bushey was 13 in 2002, she ran away for a few days, said her mother.

“She had snuck out before at nighttime and she had skipped school before
and I didn’t know where she was and I listed her as a runaway,” Denise
Bushey said in an interview last fall. “She was gone for a couple of
days. She was with a guy. The Lowell police found her in Wilmington.”

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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