Officer wants closure in cold case

March 20, 2008 11:08:01 PM PDT
A former Spring Lake police officer hopes to reopen a missing child case that is 17 years old.

In 1991, Jennifer Patterson disappeared from her parent's mobile home. She was never found.

Former Spring Lake police officer Jimmy Henley Jr. says he has never given up on finding Patterson.

"I think she is right here in our community. I think she is in a wooded area, possibly Fort Bragg," Henley said.

Now a private detective, Henley was on the Spring Lake force when the 7-year-old Patterson disappeared on June 23, 1991.

He was one of hundreds of officers and volunteers who searched the area for days, but turned up no trace of the young girl.

At the time, Patterson lived with her divorced parents, Alan and Jinger Patterson. They said she was kidnapped by a stranger, but Henley says he and other investigators believed the father was involved.

"He was a prime suspect, very early on and remained so for years to come. We never hid that from him we let him know," Henley said.

But they could not prove it and Alan denied any knowledge of his daughter's disappearance.

In Spring Lake, the mobile home park where the Patterson's lived has long been abandoned and overgrown.

Eyewitness News was told that Alan and Jinger have not been seen around the area for years, and that Jinger remarried and lives out of state.

Eyewitness New also obtained a phone number for Alan in Sampson County, but he did not return phone calls.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has posted on its Web site an age progressed picture of what Patterson might look like now.

A memory, Henley hopes to keep alive until the case is solved.

"I want her to know that somebody still thinks about her," Henley said.

Henley says if anyone has information about this case, they can contact him at www.privatelaw.us.


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