Police in Massachusetts have ended their three-day search for any trace of Jamie Lusher, a Westfield teenager who went missing nearly 21 years ago.
Since Tuesday, state police divers from New York and Massachusetts have been searching a section of Greenwater Pond in Becket, Mass – the place where convicted serial killer Lewis Lent Jr. recently admitted leaving Lusher’s body after killing him two decades ago.
The search was a cooperative effort between Massachusetts and New York State Police, and Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Divers searched an area about the size of a football field at a depth of around 35 feet. Officials said the underwater temperature at the search site was about 44 degrees. Due to the lack of visibility, divers searched a gridded area mostly by hand, in turns, about 30 minutes at a time.
Thursday morning, Massachusetts State Police Colonel Superintendent Timothy Alben said the search was not easy.
"I compare this to looking for a needle in a haystack, but quite frankly we find needles in haystacks quite frequently in this business," said Alben. "This is far more challenging."
The search was called off around 2 p.m. Thursday with nothing found. Earlier in the day, Albin said that even if no evidence was found during the search, he was pleased to see the area of the lake in question thoroughly searched and said that police may revisit the lake in the future.
"We're not abandoning our operation here, but rather we are going to refocus it, and maybe look at some other technology that we could bring into this body of water and more effectively search that bottom area," said Alben.
Albin said that police may conduct diver training exercises at Greenwater Pond in the future.
After the search was called off, the family of Jamie Lusher spoke with the press at the pond and thanked the recovery workers for their dedication. Lusher’s father, James Lusher, was joined by Lusher’s sister Jennifer Nowak and Lusher’s stepbrother, Matthew Placzek.
Nowak said that knowing where her brother is will bring her comfort.
"When I go down the Mass Pike I'll blow him a kiss everytime I use this highway now,"said Nowak. "And look at it, it's beautiful."
Lusher’s father also acknowledged the beauty of the location where Lent Jr. is said to have left his son’s body years ago.
"I feel fairly confident that I also can come to a specific spot on this lake and feel confident that that's where his body was placed and I can talk to him," said the father.
Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Precopio said that police remain “realistically optimistic” clues will turn up in the future, and asked the public to help with any information it can provide.
“Anyone who uses this lake, who comes here for recreational activities, [...] any residents, be they seasonal or year round, if they see anything at all that looks out of the ordinary - an item of clothing, something like a personal item - to please call the state police and let us know," said Precopio.
In 1996 Lewis Lent pleaded guilty to the 1990 kidnapping and murder of Jimmy Bernardino, a 12-year old Pittsfield resident, and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole. He was also convicted of the murder of Sara Anne Wood and is serving a 25 years-to-life sentence.