Lieutenant Robert M. Mancini, Jr.
Lieutenant William Boudreau (Dive Team Leader)
August 9, 2021
Lancaster, NH – On Friday, August 6, 2021 Conservation Officers with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Dive Team searched a portion of the Connecticut River in Lancaster, approximately a quarter-mile below the Mount Orne Covered Bridge. The underwater search was related to a missing person case from July 26, 1978 involving Alberta Leeman. Ms. Leeman was 63 years old at the time of her disappearance and had lived in Gorham.
Recently, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Underwater Search Team led by Conservation Officer Joe Canfield, conducted training on the Connecticut River utilizing a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sonar equipment. The Underwater Search Team utilizes sonar equipment and ROVs to augment and enhance the Law Enforcement Division’s underwater search and recovery operations. During this scheduled training, a vehicle was found submerged in approximately 14 feet of water. With this discovery, the Dive Team conducted a search of the Connecticut River, and the search revealed that the vehicle located matched Leeman’s vehicle from 1978. This was confirmed by a license plate that was located in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle. On the afternoon of August 6, human remains were located in the submerged vehicle; however, a positive identification has not been made at this time.
Throughout the day, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department worked with detectives from the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit and Troop F to process this challenging scene. The Lancaster Police Department, Lancaster Fire Department, Gorham Police Department, Vermont State Police, and Essex County Sheriff’s Office (Vermont) also assisted with the incident. Ms. Leeman’s disappearance is not considered to be suspicious.
The search of the submerged vehicle proved to be extremely difficult due to the deteriorated condition of the vehicle and the amount of silt contained inside. Due to the condition of the vehicle, it was not removed from the river out of concern that the vehicle would break into pieces under the stress of being pulled. Divers initially had to gain access to the interior of the vehicle and then worked tirelessly to sift through over 40 years of silt. Despite reduced visibility and adverse conditions, the search was a success. Hopefully, the remains found today can one day bring Ms. Leeman’s family the closure they deserve.