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The Search Continues

News Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

More than a week after the disappearance of Franco Garcia, police officers continue to search throughout the Boston College area for any clues about his location. Since his disappearance last Tuesday, the BC community and four separate police departments have searched tirelessly for any sign of the Woods School senior. No evidence relating to his disappearance has been found, police say.

Search efforts over the past three days have been focused on the stretch of land between Mary Ann's, the bar in Cleveland Circle where Garcia was last seen, and the BC campus–with the most energy going into a full-out search of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

In an attempt to aid police efforts, over 40 members of the BC community joined Garcia's family in an on-foot search of the area on Monday afternoon. Fourteen teams of two to five people met at the reservoir and took shifts in the hours before sundown searching the area between Lake Street, Washington Street, and Beacon Street.

"We are looking for anything that might lead us somewhere else," said Rachele Reis, a friend and bandmate of Garcia and A&S '12. "If he dropped his phone, wallet, glasses, the Mardi Gras beads he was wearing–anything suspicious or helpful in dumpster areas, trash cans, and alleys."

The police's investigation of the reservoir also began on Monday, as divers were brought in to scour the body of water with the help of sonar equipment.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, divers were dragged slowly through the water column to search for clues, according to Reis. They searched for anything floating in the water below the surface that they would not have found when searching the reservoir floor.

"They found nothing on the [reservoir] bottom that would be considered in any way relevant to this case,'' State Police spokesman David Procopio told The Boston Globe.

"By the time we got here they had already found a dead duck so it speaks well to the fact that the sonar is pretty powerful that they can find something as small as a dead duck," said Joe Mahon, also a friend of Garcia's and A&S '12.

Procopio said that divers would be back in the reservoir on Friday for a final search, skipping Thursday due to anticipated bad weather.

The underwater searches were accompanied by overhead helicopter searches using heat cameras. On-foot searches by the State Police Emergency Response Team and K-9 Units covered the wooded area surrounding the reservoir, as well as the vacant Cleveland Circle movie theater. More than 100 police officers from four different police departments have been involved in the search.

Yesterday evening, Newton and State police expanded the search to Garcia's home in West Newton, hoping to find information that could help them locate the missing student.

Despite the intensity of the searches, no evidence has been found regarding Garcia's whereabouts.

Garcia disappeared after a night out with friends at Mary Ann's bar in Cleveland Circle last Tuesday. He was last seen wearing a blue and white striped button-down shirt, blue jeans, a black Northface jacket, and glasses.

Garcia's friends say they saw him walking toward the direction of the door, but never saw him exit the bar.

"It's possible, we think, that he may still have been in the bar sitting somewhere," Mahon said.

Their phone call to his cell phone at 1:17 a.m. was not answered, but the ping from the cell tower indicates that Garcia was headed away from Cleveland Circle back in the direction of campus, where his car was parked.

"It doesn't make much sense to us that he would be coming back to his car, unless he was going to try to get back into Edmond's if he could have somebody let him back in and go up to the room. He wouldn't have been driving anywhere," Mahon said.

Garcia's friends said it is unusual for Garcia not to let them know if he made it home safe after a night out.

"Normally if he doesn't stay after, he texts us on Wednesday and says ‘made it home, I took a cab' or ‘I'm fine,'" Reis said.

Despite the unusual circumstances, police have found no evidence to suggest involvement by another party.

"It remains a missing persons case," Procopio told the Globe. "There is no evidence to indicate foul play but foul play has not been ruled out."

"There have been surprisingly few [leads]," Mahon said. "The thing that is really unsettling about this is that you rule out the accident, you rule out the reservoir, and there's no evidence of any struggle or anything like that–this is speculation, mind you–but the unsettling thing is that after six or seven days with absolutely no sign or no word and no clues, no evidence, nothing in the reservoir, ‘What could have happened, where could he have gone, where could he be right now?'"

Despite the disappointment of the searches, Garcia's friends and family remain hopeful for his safe return.

"They haven't turned up anything and we're taking that as a good sign because that means he's not there," Reis said. "We can take that possibility away and focus on that he's out there safe somewhere."

"Every day that passes without anything is more likely that he's actually alive somewhere and for some reason can't get into contact with us," Mahon said.

Along with their physical searches, Garcia's friends and family have turned to social media to reach out to as many people as possible, both in and outside of the BC community. They have focused particularly on celebrities, news stations, and local businesses and have received support from many, including Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Doug Flutie, and Bruce Springsteen.

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