Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Dog searches for children missing 20 years

By Jim Patten
Eagle-Tribune Writer

LAWRENCE -- A dog trained to sniff out human remains failed to find any at the West Street site where Charles Pierce claimed to have buried the bodies of two young children years ago.

"The case is still open," State Police Detective Sgt. Jack Garvin said yesterday morning following the 45-minute search of a 40-foot wide by 150- to 200-foot-long grassy area enclosed by a chain line fence on the West Street property owned by Massachusetts Electric Co.

Though yesterday's search was unsuccessful, investigators are talking about bringing the dog back to check the wooded area behind Higgins Memorial Pool in South Lawrence, where another young boy vanished 22 years ago.

Angelo "Andy" Puglisi disappeared from the pool Aug. 21, 1976. He was 10 years old.

Yesterday, state Trooper Chet Wakawka led his cadaver-sniffing dog Altos over the site, then went behind the site to a set of railroad tracks and followed them for 200 feet on either side.

"They walked the property and the dog got no hits," Lawrence Police Detective Capt. Michael S. Molchan said.

Capt. Molchan said work done to the land over the past decades may have covered up any evidence of the crime.

In a prison interview three weeks before he died of cancer in February, Mr. Pierce, 78, told Capt. Molchan and Sgt. Jack Garvin he killed a boy and a girl and buried them in a field off West Street in the mid-to-late 1950s.

Mr. Pierce, a Haverhill drifter and carnival worker, was in prison for kidnapping and killing 13-year-old Michelle Wilson of Boxford in 1969.

He confessed to Capt. Molchan and Sgt. Garvin that he killed a young boy he abducted from in front of the Strand Theater in Lawrence, drove up Broadway toward George's Diner and took a left, burying the body in a field off West Street which police believe is the one searched yesterday.

He told police he also buried a girl he had abducted in Connecticut.

Investigators do not know how accurate his stories are.

"He was incoherent at times. He'd talk for a bit then fall asleep," Capt. Molchan said.

"We might bring them back again with better conditions," Sgt. Garvin said of the search dog team.

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