Sheffield Grows Increasingly Worried About Missing Woman

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(Host) As days go by, the town of Sheffield is getting more and more worried about one of its most beloved residents, Pat O’Hagan, who is believed to have been abducted from her home last Friday.

Mystified family, friends and neighbors found comfort together at the annual town dinner last night.

VPR’s Charlotte Albright was there. 

Moment of silence 

(Albright)  Before he starts passing around plates of pot pie, squash, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw, volunteer Ed Richardson asks the 75 diners crammed into the Town Hall basement to think of the absent Pat O’Hagan, who normally would be serving right along with him. Richardson says police are telling local residents to lock their doors and windows as the search enters its seventh day. 

(Ed Richardson) Good advice. But Pat was a good friend to everybody and because of that, you know, the community is pitching in all they can to do what they can to solve this mystery.

And it’s not a tragedy yet, it’s a mystery.

(Albright)  The FBI is urging residents to report anything they know about the disappearance of a woman who was an avid walker and kayaker, not wealthy, and served on many local committees. Rumors are running wild, but police are tight-lipped. 

O’Hagan’s dear friend, Norma Williams, says she needs to keep as busy as possible, re-filling water glasses and wiping off tables.

(Williams) Because this really is good to keep us occupied and not think the worst which we are unfortunately. Every minute that goes by we worry more and more what the outcome will be.

 (Albright)  And that worry is most unbearable for O’Hagan’s five children. Four of them have come from their homes out of state to stay together in her house as the search drags on. 

Her middle son Sean says the family is struggling to keep hope.

(Sean O’Hagan) Day by day, hour by hour, as news come in our hopes go up and down, it’s kind of a roller coaster, but with the support of our family and the town and the state police and FBI, we’re getting through it. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to find out what happened.

(Albright) But others polishing off their pot pie don’t seem so sure that this mystery will be solved.  A prosecutor who is not connected to the investigation speculates that O’Hagan’s abductor was not a total stranger.

But most who know the 78-year-old grandmother say that anyone who’s met her wouldn’t want to hurt her. There’s a $5,000 dollar reward for information leading to the resolution of the case.  

State police say the investigation is still active as the search moves to a quarry, and information continues to come in.

For VPR News, I’m Charlotte Albright, in Sheffield.

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