Girl Missing 40 Years Not Forgotten In Tolland

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Video report by Audrey Kuchen

Text by Nicole Perez, The Hartford Courant

TOLLAND — Many people in town remember exactly what they were doing 40 years ago when 7-year-old Janice Pockett disappeared after riding her bike down Anthony Road.

Betty Rutkauskas, Janice’s second cousin who was 27 at the time, heard about it on a morning radio show while sitting in her New Britain home.

Ross Diaz, 10 years old when Janice disappeared, said his teacher told him about it in school.

And Mary Engelbrecht, Janice’s sister who was 6 at the time, remembers a minor argument about toothpaste just before Janice asked if she could ride her bike down the road to look for a butterfly she had left on a rock.

“The next thing I remember is my mom holding my hand, walking up the road, calling my sister’s name over and over,” Engelbrecht said Friday. “Time doesn’t make it any easier, but I’ll never give up that hope that we can get some kind of answers.”

About 300 people gathered at the Cross Farms Recreation Center to remember Janice Pockett through speeches, prayer and song on the 40th anniversary of her disappearance. A bench engraved with Janice’s name and picture was donated to the recreation center after a yearlong fundraising effort headed by Sharon Hiller.

“Never stop looking,” the bench is inscribed in capital letters.

Lt. J. Paul Vance of the state police said the department won’t stop looking; the case has been re-opened numerous times, and remains open.

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