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Cold Case Spotlight

Disappearance New Hampshire Woman Remains Unsolved 37 Years Later

It was the night of March 22, 1980 in Newton, New Hampshire.

Rachael Garden walked into Rowe's Corner Market with her recognizable, easy smile. The shop's owner at the time, Peter Jewett, told The Seacoast Online in 2007 that he remembered Rachael was the type of girl to always say hello and flash her teeth. That night she bought a pack of cigarettes before reportedly heading to a friend's home nearby.

Jewett told the paper he remembered watching her head out.

"I turned and leaned against the counter like I always did to look at the road, and I saw Rachael walking towards Maple Avenue," he told the paper.

But Rachael never made it to her friend's house. She never returned home either. Sometime that night, Rachael vanished.

The next morning, her concerned parents reported their oldest child missing.

The search for Rachael was slow. The tiny town's police force was equally small. Many simply assumed Rachael ran off, despite the fact that she didn't bring any of her dearest personal belonging with her. The high school freshman was attached to her family and there was nothing in her life that seemed to be nagging at her.

One sinister theory did emerge. Someone spotted Rachael talking to three young men in a dark-colored vehicle near the market that night. Those in town said at the time in local newspaper reports, that the men had troubled reputations, but Rachael had been friendly with them in the past.

None of them was ever charged in connection with the case, but that didn't stop rumors from swirling.

It also became clear Rachael didn't have plans to sleep at a friend's home the night she disappeared. The friend later told police that wasn't the plan, although it wasn't abnormal for teens at the time to show up unannounced at their close friends' homes.

Whatever happened that night, Rachael was never seen again.

Her case remains open, authorities said, but few tips have been reported in the past few years. For now, whatever happened to Rachael on that March night remains a mystery.

Anyone with information regarding Rachael's case is urged to call the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office at (603) 679-2225.