Grandmother of missing Samantha Humphrey desperate for 14-year-old’s return

Samantha Humphrey

Samantha Humphrey

SCHENECTADY — The grandmother of missing 14-year-old Samantha Humphrey says her family is desperate for the girl’s return as the search reaches its second week.

Dianne Matarazzo, Humphrey’s paternal grandmother, said she has confidence in the Schenectady Police Department and New York State Police as they search for Humphrey, who went missing the night of Nov. 25.

“We want her back so much,” Matarazzo said with her voice cracking with emotion. “You see people go through this and you feel bad for them, but you don’t think that someday it will be you.”

Sgt. Patrick Irwin, spokesperson for the Schenectady Police Department, said the police continued to search the Mohawk River on Friday.

“We’re in that area because that’s her last known location,” Irwin said.

Irwin also reported that the department has been in contact with Hajile Howard, a second Schenectady ninth-grader who was reported missing on Nov. 9.

The police have contacted Howard through a third party but have not located her as of Friday afternoon. The department does not believe Howard is in danger and the agency has found no link to the two girls’ disappearances.

“There is no connection between Samantha’s disappearance and Hajile, however, they are friends,” Irwin said.

Matarazzo on Thursday said she does not believe that Humphrey and Howard are together.

“I know they were close friends,” she said. “I met Hajile. But I don’t think that they’re together. Only because I don’t believe that Samantha would not get in touch with me or her grandfather or father [Jeff] or her brother Mattox. She’s close to all of us. There’s no reason she wouldn’t call her brother if she was in trouble and let him know that she’s in trouble. Whatever happened, we would be here for her and deal with whatever it was.”

Matarazzo said the family is sticking together during a traumatic period.

“As much as possible,” she said. “Her father is devastated as of course we are. Sam and her brother lived with us for a few years while her father was getting his nursing degree. So we’re very close. We’re just as much parents to them. We do everything for them. If they call us, we come running. So she would just not do this to us.”

Matarazzo said Samantha lived with her and her husband, John, from the ages of 7 to 13.

The grandmother said the Schenectady police have been in daily contact with the family.

She last saw her granddaughter Nov. 22 when she took Humphrey to a dentist appointment, she said.

Matarazzo said she talked to Humphrey via phone at approximately 6:45 p.m. on the night of her disappearance on Nov. 25.

Humphrey was last seen at approximately 11:30 p.m. in the area of Riverside Park in the Stockade neighborhood that evening.

“She said she wanted to come here on Saturday [Nov. 26] and have some leftovers from Thanksgiving, but then I could never reach her again on my phone,” she said.

In a letter to district parents on Thursday, Schenectady City School District Superintendent Aníbal Soler Jr. noted that the district is working closely with the Police Department’s Youth Aid Bureau and is asking the school community to report any information about the girls to police.

“We understand that this situation may be difficult for our students due to what they may be hearing on TV or reading on social media, and they could be experiencing a range of emotions,” Soler wrote. “Our team of school counselors, social workers and psychologists are always available to help students.”

Soler on Friday said that the school district community is still reeling from the news of the two missing ninth-grade pupils, who both attend Schenectady High School.

“I think anytime we hear anything like this about any of our students, it’s a punch in the gut,” he said. “We want nothing negative to happen to any of our kids. So to come out of a holiday break for Thanksgiving and the news you get on a Friday night is that one of your students is missing, it definitely impacts our kids and our various communities. This is still fresh for our staff and students that know her. We’re just all hoping for a positive outcome.”

Soler said he was heartened to hear that the police had been able to connect with Howard through a third party.

“That’s fantastic news,” he said. “Our hope is that maybe she’ll not work through a third provider and come back to school and we can wrap around her and provide her the necessary support.”

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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