Rhiannon found alive - Case had similarities to that of Maryann Measles
WINSTED â€” During the search for Rhiannon Smith, family members of Maryann Measles, the 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and brutally murdered 13 years ago in New Milford, expressed interest in Rhiannonâ€™s case and hope that the missing girl would be found alive, which she was on Tuesday.
Maryannâ€™s sister, Jennifer Measles, sat down with The Winsted Journal last week to discuss some of the striking similarities between Maryannâ€™s case and that of Rhiannon, whose story thankfully did not end in tragedy.
Both teens were tormented by their peers and believed to simply be runaways, Measles recalled.
â€œThe New Milford Police Department in the beginning would just tell my mom that Maryann was simply just another runaway and that she would come home eventually, when she was ready, and that this was very typical and normal for troubled teens to runaway,â€ she said. â€œIt was so hard for my mom and me to hear that because we knew she wasnâ€™t a runaway. We knew something had happened to her.â€
The Measles family felt they had to take the search and investigation into their own hands to find out what had happened to Maryann.
â€œI remember having to spend a lot of time with my aunt and uncle while my mom and other family members were constantly out searching for Maryann,â€ Jennifer said. â€œThey finally realized they couldnâ€™t wait around and rely on the New Milford police to get things done and knew they had to take on the search themselves.â€
Maryann Measles was kidnapped on Oct. 19, 1997, by schoolmates who gang-raped, beat and drowned her the same day before wrapping her body in a blanket and chains and dumping it into Lake Lillinonah in New Milford. The body was discovered nine months later, but it took several years for police to find the murderers.
It took 50 days for Rhiannon to finally be located alive in Russelville, Ala. Coincidentally, the discovery happened on the 13th anniversary of the day Maryann Measles was murdered.
â€œI went to the cemetery today to talk to Maryann, being the 13th anniversary of her death, and right after I left I learned that Rhiannon had been located alive,â€ Jennifer Measles said. â€œI canâ€™t believe it. I am so relieved and happy for her family.â€
Though the Measles family contacted the state police and the FBI for help, the federal cops did not want to get involved with Rhiannon Smithâ€™s case unless there was concrete evidence that she had left the state.
Jennifer Measles said she was relieved that her worst fear was not realized: having to watch another family endure the same pain her family suffered 13 years ago.