The search for Craig Frear continued today, nearly 10 years after the 17-year-old Scotia-Glenville High School student went missing from his Schenectady home.
Starting at around 9:15 a.m., state troopers and four cadaver dogs searched a wooded area between Maple Avenue and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in Glenville, starting at the intersection of Maple and Alplaus Avenue and heading south for about a half-mile.
The search was extended another half-mile south to a few vacant structures on the Canadian Pacific property, beyond the wooded area, after sleeping bags, old clothing and old food were spotted inside, state police Investigator Gloria Coppola said.
But after running the cadaver dogs through the structures, the items appeared to be left behind by squatters or train hoppers, and nothing was found to connect troopers to Frear, she said.
Nothing was found in the search, which lasted several hours.
"We’ll mark this one off the list, and we’ll look forward to the next one," Coppola said.
Since Frear went missing June 27, 2004, police have looked into about 550 leads, which represent either "an interview, a search, or an investigative step," Coppola said.
On Wednesday, troopers were following up on two human leads they received last spring — one before and one after their April 2013 search of a wooded area behind the Glenville Price Chopper.
Frear was last seen walking into the woods behind Cambridge Manor in Scotia, a short walk from his Glenville residence. He appeared to have ducked into the woods to avoid a confrontation with his parents, who had just learned that he had been fired from his job at Price Chopper after Frear fooled them into thinking he had gone to work there for two months, police have said.
“We don’t know if his not going to work for two months had anything to do with Price Chopper; however, we wanted to make sure,” Coppola said.
Wednesday’s search area was about 3 1/2 miles from the Amtrak railroad tracks where Frear was last seen before disappearing into the woods, she said.
“Every spring we try to be proactive in a search area based on where Craig was last seen on the railroad tracks, either heading up the tracks toward his residence or going right off the tracks, as someone had claimed they saw him go right off the tracks,” she said. “And if he went right off the tracks, it would lead to the Freemans Bridge Road road, Maple Avenue area.”
Coppola said troopers have a short window of "just a few weeks" to search — after the snow melts and before vegetation start to grow.
“Can we search any other time of the year? Absolutely,” she said. “But with the cadaver dogs or a search team, this is our best time.”
The search had been planned for last week, but was postponed after an overnight storm covered much of the area in snow. A light drizzle on Wednesday did not deter troopers from searching the area. If anything, the search team saw the rain has a potential benefit.
“We actually like the wet weather because of the odor that comes out of the ground,” said Trooper Darin Jones, who led the K-9 unit.
Coppola said she is convinced Frear’s body is nearby.
“I think something happened to Craig within a few hours of his disappearance, and I don’t think he’s far from here,” she said.
She continued to encouraged members of the public to help with the search.
“The family and myself can’t stress enough, we encourage people to search their property, if they have anything more than a typical backyard, if they have acres, please go out and search,” she said. “We can’t get on everybody’s property. I mean, look around — there are woods all over the place.”