CONCORD, N.H. – A New Hampshire man whose two children are missing and presumed dead wasn't back in the state Wednesday to face custody charges, amid questions about whether his return from California was delayed so he could help authorities find the bodies.
"He is not in flight to New Hampshire right now," Assistant Attorney General William Delker said early Wednesday afternoon.
Manuel Gehring (search), 44, who was arrested last week in Gilroy, Calif., left that state with police early Tuesday and was said to be heading back to New Hampshire.
There was speculation that he was taken instead to the Midwest and might be helping officials locate the bodies of his children.
Police searched in and around Toledo, Ohio, for seven hours Monday without finding the children, 14-year-old Sarah Gehring and 11-year-old Philip Gehring.
Delker declined to comment on search efforts Wednesday except to say that the bodies hadn't been found yet.
In California, Charlie Gillan, the lawyer who represented Gehring, said Gehring was cooperating with authorities and expected his cooperation to continue in New Hampshire. He did not elaborate, and authorities in New Hampshire have not said anything about what they may have been learning from Gehring.
The children were last seen with their father after a Fourth of July fireworks display in Concord. Two witnesses have said they saw Sarah and her father arguing loudly after the fireworks.
Authorities traced Gehring to California and arrested him there on July 10. Two days later, they announced they were recharacterizing the search for the children from a missing person's case to a double homicide.
Attorney General Peter Heed has said he believed the children probably were killed in New Hampshire before Gehring drove cross-country. He has not divulged what evidence convinced authorities the children were murdered.
Documents containing information on evidence police presented to a judge to get the California arrest warrant have been sealed.
Gehring did not fight attempts to return him to New Hampshire. He will be arraigned on the custody charge by video link from the Merrimack County Jail to Concord District Court (search), though Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said "it is certainly possible there will be other charges in the future."
Strelzin said New Hampshire does not require the bodies of victims to be found before authorities can file murder charges.
"The standard is still whether or not we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is nothing ... that requires us to have the bodies to do that," he said.
Citing investigative sources, WTOL-TV in Toledo has reported Gehring bought a shovel in Grove City, Pa. The station also said investigators had information the children were buried near an Ohio Turnpike exit.
Gehring and the children's mother, Teresa Knight, separated in 2000 and divorced in 2001.
When Knight moved to Hillsboro and remarried last year, Sarah chose to move in with her father, according to court records. Gehring was given temporary custody of Sarah and sought custody of Philip, who had moved to Hillsboro with his mother.
Knight said in court papers filed July 7 he had told her in a "very agitated and angry" phone call that he had no intention of abiding by a new custody agreement.