FALMOUTH — Maine State Police divers and game wardens using sonar searched a section of the Presumpscot River throughout Wednesday without finding a trace of a missing Richmond woman.

Anneliese Heinig Courtesy photo

Anneliese Heinig, a 37-year-old mother of two, was last seen early on Nov. 26 walking along Interstate 295 near where it crosses the river in Falmouth.

On Wednesday, Heinig’s mother, father and sister stood on the Route 9 bridge that parallels the interstate and watched while three boats crisscrossed a wide swath of the river. The search ended late in the day with no new clues about what happened to Heinig.

“What the dive team said is that we can say definitively that she’s not where we looked,” Chris Heinig of Harpswell, Anneliese’s father, said moments before he was to meet with authorities to discuss the investigation. “The next step is to figure out what Plan B is.”

The Maine Marine Patrol plans to expand the search location over the next several days and will continue to utilize a piloted aircraft, Falmouth Police Lt. Jeffrey Pardue said in a news release Wednesday evening. He asked any motorists who were traveling north on I-295 between Exits 9 and 10 early on Nov. 26 and might have seen Heinig to call police at 207-781-2300.

The search Wednesday got underway by 11 a.m., when two divers aboard a marine patrol boat entered the water to begin a grid search of the river bottom.

Overhead, a single-engine float plane made repeated passes over the search area.

Chris Heinig, who spent decades on the water as a marine biologist and is familiar with Maine’s coastal waterways, said he felt the need to be on the scene, to remain active and focused on his daughter.

“I just have to stay occupied or I’d go nuts,” he said.

Falmouth police Lt. Frank Soule talks with Anneliese Heinig’s family on the bridge on Route 9 over the Presumpscot River in Falmouth, in the area being searched Wednesday. Anneliese’s sister Grace and father, Chris, can be seen. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

While game wardens, state police divers and others searched the water under the Route 9 overpass and surrounding area, Chris Heinig said he was holding out hope that his daughter is not there, even if it means she was abducted from the highway.

“I’m hoping for the alternative, that she got taken, and we’ll have a chance to hug her again,” he said.

Anneliese Heinig was last seen walking away from her parked SUV on I-295 in Falmouth at about 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 26. The car was parked next to the northbound lanes and she was walking south, according to the latest description from Falmouth police. She left her keys, cellphone and wallet inside the vehicle, which was considered abandoned and was towed that afternoon.

She was reported missing by family members two days later – now six days ago – when she didn’t show up for a Thanksgiving dinner with family. Richmond police then traced the location of Heinig’s cellphone, which led them to the South Portland tow company that had removed the vehicle from the side of the highway at the request of Maine State Police.

A diver on a Maine Marine Patrol boat goes into the Presumpscot River in Falmouth on Wednesday as the search continues for Anneliese Heinig. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

State police policy encourages officers to contact a vehicle’s owner before it is towed. However, Heinig’s parents, who own the vehicle, were not contacted for reasons that are not yet clear and they did not know she was missing until Thanksgiving.

Heinig’s family has questioned why they were not alerted sooner by police and have been frustrated by shifting details about the location of the vehicle and the time it was towed.

On Tuesday, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, said that troopers first noticed the vehicle at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 26 and made a cursory check, but took no further action at that time.

He said Maine State Police have a policy that encourages troopers to make contact with the registered owners, but that in this case Anne and Chris Heinig were not contacted. It is unknown whether the trooper tried to contact the Heinigs, or whether the trooper noticed the wallet, car keys and cellphone inside the car during the initial check.

By 1:30 p.m. that day, a state Department of Transportation worker called state police and asked if the SUV could be moved, and the trooper then authorized the tow.

Chris Heinig said this week that if a trooper had reached the family on Nov. 26, the day his daughter left the SUV on the side of the road, the family would have reported her disappearance sooner and started search efforts immediately.

A crew searches the Presumpscot River below Interstate 295 in Falmouth for Anneliese Heinig on Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“I don’t have the energy or the inclination to be really frustrated,” Chris Heinig said Tuesday afternoon. “I just hope with every call there is some kind of news. Hopefully, good news.”

Photos of Anneliese Heinig, the 37-year-old woman from Richmond who has been missing since Nov. 26. Photos courtesy of the Richmond Police Department

The search for Anneliese Heinig was suspended Tuesday because of the storm that dumped heavy snow along most of Southern Maine.

Heinig lives with her 16-year-old daughter in Richmond. Her 5-year-old son lives with his father, close to Heinig’s apartment, Anne Heinig said. Although Anneliese Heinig separated from the boy’s father, they share parenting responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.

Heinig has no history of suicide attempts, Anne Heinig said. Anneliese Heinig had made plans to take her daughter to a spa last weekend as a 16th birthday present, Anne Heinig said, and police found birthday party-themed items in the back of the SUV.

Heinig’s friends have organized a vigil for her Friday at 6 p.m. on the mall in Brunswick, he said.

 

 

 

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