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Celina Cass Disappearance: Body of 11-Year-Old Girl Found Dumped in River

By Pete Kotz in homicide, unsolved
Friday, August 12, 2011 at 10:04 am
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UPDATE: A detailed look at the last night of Celina Cass' life, and the strange behavior that followed from her stepdad Wendell Noyes, who's still in a mental hospital after checking himself in the day after Celina's body was found. See update after the jump...

The mystery of Celina Cass' disappearance has come to an end. Police divers found her body near a damn in the Connecticut River yesterday, only a half-mile from her home. The 11-year-old girl went missing July 25, when she was last seen playing in her computer at home.

Divers discovered her body around 10:30 yesterday morning. Though they aren't commenting on Celina's condition, it looks like her state has prompted a murder investigation. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Attention seems to be shifting toward Celina's stepfather, Wendell Noyes, who has a history of severe mental problems. In 2003, he broke into an ex-girlfriend's, picked up her mattress and dumped her on the ground. Then he threatened to throw her down some stairs.

But instead of throwing him in the slam, a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial and had him committed to a mental hospital for schizophrenia.

He also appeared to be having mental problems over the weekend. He was seen by news cameras outside the family home kneeling, then repeatedly lying face-down in the driveway. He was eventually taken away to a hospital by ambulance.

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No one seems to believe that Celina would run away on her own or kill herself
UPDATE: Celina's autopsy proves inconclusive.

Detectives will now have to wait 4-6 weeks for the toxicology reports to come back, but they're hoping to speed that process. They are, however, operating on the thesis that Celina was murder.

Everyone seems to believe she was happy at home and had no reason to run away or kill herself. But police aren't sure where her body entered the river or who put her there.

Detectives also won't discuss if they have a person of interest in the case. They are, however, interviewing all sex offenders in the area.

UPDATE: Celina's stepdad, Wendell Noyes, has been hospitalized for mental problems.

Noyes has voluntarily checked himself into a mental hospital for the second time since Celina's disappearance. He's been known to suffer from schizophrenia in the past, and in the 2003 incident when he attacked his girlfriend, a judge ruled that he possessed "a potentially serious likelihood of danger to himself and others."

Police seem to be thinking the same thing. Yesterday, the hauled away his silver pickup from Celina's home for forensics testing.

It could be that Noyes latest mental problems come from the stress of losing a daughter. But it could also mean that his violent tendencies have re-emerged.

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Celina was last seen by her mom Louisa at 9 p.m. the night before she was found missing
UPDATE: A detailed look at Celina's last night alive.

The night before she was discovered missing, Celina watched "The Secret Life of An American Teenager" on the ABC Family Channel with mom Louisa Noyes in their apartment, which was a home cut into a triplex.

After the show, Celina went back and forth from the TV to the computer. Her mom decided to go to bed just after 9 p.m.

Celina shared a bedroom in the basement with her sister. Wendall and Louisa shared  bedroom on the second floor. The other two were used by Kevin Mullaney, a family friend, and Louisa's mother-in-law, Tommie Richards.

Mullaney came home around midnight and sat on the couch. Celina is believed to have been in her bed at that time, but no one is certain.

Tommie left to go to her own home at 8:15 in the morning. Louisa left about the same time to go to work.

A short time later, Wendall says he went to wake Celina for a hair appointment, but she wasn't in her bed. At 9:15, he called Louisa to ask where Celina was. The search for her would soon begin.

What's weird is that during the search, people attending a vigil in a park had placed photos of Celina on a picnic table. Wendell walked up to the table and began turning them face down one by one.

He then went back to his apartment and was witnessed rolling on the ground in front of the building. A few hours later, Celina's body was found.

Wendell checked himself into a mental facility the next day.

There seems to be some tension now between Wendell and the rest of the family. Before Celina's body was discovered, his kids and extended family listed him as a friend on their Facebook pages.

He's now been defriended by nearly all of them.

See our original story on the case: Celina Cass is Missing: 11-Year-Old Girl Disappears From New Hampshire Home.


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