After decades of wondering, 84-year-old Nancy McLain finally knows what happened to her mother

After decades of wondering, 84-year-old Nancy McLain finally knows what happened to her mother, Alberta Leeman, who disappeared in 1978.  In a statement on Friday, state police confirmed that human remains found in a car in the Connecticut River last year were Leeman’s. “It’s peace of mind,” McLain said. Leeman’s identity was confirmed through DNA testing, using samples from relatives. They matched the DNA of the remains found in the car, which was registered to Leeman. Family members now believe Leeman was on her way to McLain’s home in Lunenburg, Vt., located three miles from the crash site. Leeman vanished on July 26, 1978. Multiple police investigations centered on the Gorham area came up empty. After a while, the case went cold. Then, four years ago, New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Sonar/ROV team, which uses underwater side-scan sonar and submersible drone technology, made the Leeman case the basis for its monthly training. The team chose areas where Leeman could have disappeared underwater, and the Sonar/ROV team would search those places. First, they combed waterways in the Gorham area. Then, they re-focused the search on the area between Leeman’s apartment and her daughter McClain’s home in Gilman village. They picked a high-probability area near the Mt. Orne Covered Bridge connecting Lunenburg, Vt., and Lancaster, N.H. They broke the case open on July 29; the Sonar/ROV team detected a 1972 Pontiac LeMans lying in a shallow area on the Vermont side of the river alongside River Road, just south of the bridge. A week later, after the dive team confirmed it was Leeman’s car through a license plate. Once the remains are returned, the family will hold a burial ceremony. More than four decades later, Leeman will finally be brought home.  McLain, who turns 85 on Sunday, said “We’ll be taking her up to Gorham, where she lived. That’s where my dad is buried, and she’ll be put with him. That’s where she should be.”

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