Late Night: The Disappearance and Death of Celina CassPosted: August 3, 2011
In my Tuesday Reads post I wrote about the many women and children who go missing in the U.S.–so many that this horrible state of affairs has been almost normalized in our society. One of the recent cases I mentioned was that of and 11-year-old girl from northern New Hampshire, Celina Cass.
Celina had been missing since Thursday, July 25. Her family said they had last seen her working on her computer before she went to bed. In the morning, she was gone. Celina’s body was found on Monday in the Connecticut river near a hydroelectric dam, wrapped a blanket. Reportedly, the body was wrapped in a blanket. Even after an autopsy, the cause of her death is unknown. Investigators are still waiting for the results of toxicology tests.
Celina lived with her mother, Louisa Noyes, her older sister Kayla, 13, and her stepfather, Wendell Noyes. Yesterday, I wrote that I suspected Celina’s stepfather had something to do with her death. Noyes has a criminal record. He was arrested for violating a restraining order taken out by his former girlfriend–breaking into her home during the night and threatening to push her down the stairs. Afterwards, he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
It was because of his previous violent behavior and the fact that Celina was not his child that made me suspect him–not his apparent mental illness. Statistically, stepfathers are five times as likely to abuse children as natural fathers. In addition, Police said Noyes was “uncooperative” when questioned. Then on Monday, he was rushed to a Concord, NH, hospital, apparently having had another breakdown.
Noyes, 47, was taken by ambulance to a hospital Monday after behaving bizarrely. His odd behavior and hospitalization came about the same time that searchers found the girl’s body in a nearby lake next to a dam.
I hope someone has been able to talk to Celina’s older sister Kayla, because it is quite likely that Celina–and perhaps Kayla as well–had been sexually abused by their stepfather. According to his Facebook page, Noyes is interested in “hot girls,” and most of his “friends” reflect that interest. For what it’s worth, Noyes’ brother Gordon is a registered sex offender, convicted of molesting a child.
Celina’s natural father is Adam Laro. I haven’t yet been able to find out how Celina got the surname “Cass.” How many stepfathers has she had? I have questions about Laro as well. He is currently living with his parents, and his former wife did not contact him about Celina’s disappearance.
Laro was in the hospital because of a heart condition when Cass disappeared from her home. He said he was not contacted by Cass’s mother, who had custody of the child. Instead, he turned on the television and saw his daughter’s school photo on the morning news.
“I thought, ‘That looks like a picture of my daughter,’” Laro recalled. “And then I realized that it was my daughter.”
Marcia Laro, Celina’s grandmother, said of her:
“She was such a unique little girl,” said the woman, 65. “She was adorable, lovable, trusting, happy.”
Cass’s grandmother said she was disappointed that Celina’s mother did not come forward to speak to the media while the search for Celina went on. Both Louisa and Wendell Noyes have declined requests for interviews.
Marcia Laro said she did not understand why the mother did not reach out to Celina’s father after the child’s body was discovered.
“We haven’t heard from her,” the grandmother said. “We’re confused.”
Two other troubling issues:
First, as you can see from this photo, Celina desperately needed some dental work. Why didn’t her father and grandparents see that she got it?
Second, Adam Laro originally said he thought Celina and her sister Kayla were well cared for, but more recently he told a different story. He says Celina and her sister shared a room and then,
“The next thing I know they are staying on an air mattress on the cellar floor, staying down in the cellar and to me it’s like, why would they do that? It wasn’t a good atmosphere over there, there were a lot of people in and out of that place and a lot of faces every time I went over there. It hurts me incredibly. I don’t even know how to explain it–it’s crushing–it’s heart crushing–it’s like a sore that is never going to leave,” said Laro.
Did he ask his daughters what was going on? Did he try to help them? This is very troubling to me.
So–lots of unanswered questions. Perhaps more will come out soon. But a beautiful young girl is dead and many people’s lives will be affected–not just those of her family members, but her classmates, teachers, and even the people whose job it is to find out what happened to her.
In summary, this is an obvious and very sad case of child neglect and abuse. Celina’s natural father clearly was not close to her, and her stepfather has a history of violence and a brother who is a sex offender. His Facebook page speaks shows that he doesn’t mind who knows that he is interested in porn and “hot girls.” Celina’s mother has not been heard from so far. I’m guessing she was a doormat for her husband. Celina’s sister Kayla needs to be removed from the home as soon as possible.