SHEFFIELD, Vt. – FBI agents, police and volunteers in helicopters, on horseback and along remote roads scoured northern Vermont on Thursday for a spunky 78-year-old grandmother who authorities believe was abducted from her home in a town so small it has no stores and no stoplights.
Pat O'Hagan, a widow who camped, kayaked and lived alone, was reported missing Saturday after a friend arrived to pick her up for a rug-hooking meeting and she wasn't there. Police haven't said what led them to believe she was abducted or mentioned a possible motive.
"Every day is another day that she's been missing," said son Mark O'Hagan, 45, of Bolton, Mass. "We keep hoping that wherever she is, that someone has her for a reason and that she's well. But the days are getting longer."
FBI agents joined recently with a dozen Vermont State Police detectives to comb fields, barns, abandoned buildings and a quarry in the dairy farming community, to no avail. A $5,000 reward has been offered.
Authorities say there's no reason to believe that O'Hagan, a grandmother of nine who by all accounts is mentally alert and physically active, just wandered off.
Originally from Chelmsford, Mass., O'Hagan and her husband moved to northern Vermont about 15 years ago and renovated a deteriorating white clapboard house before he died in 2001, son Terry O'Hagan, 47, said.
Money appeared to be an unlikely motive for an abductor. O'Hagan is no wealthy widow, according to her son, who says she is "very prudent, frugal."
"She wasn't a rich woman," said friend Francie Vos, 65. "She was not stingy, but she had to watch every penny."
A National Guard helicopter buzzed overhead Thursday as police continued their work from a command post set up at the village municipal building. Meanwhile, plans continued for a chicken pie supper for which O'Hagan had signed up to provide some of the trimmings.
A dozen State Police detectives and two FBI agents were on the scene.
"Detectives are following up on leads, doing interviews, trying to develop any sort of information that would lead us in a direction," said Sgt. Tara Thomas, a State Police spokeswoman.
The disappearance and search are beyond rare for Sheffield, a town of 727 residents.
"It's one of those towns where the sign says 'Entering Sheffield' on one side and 'Leaving Sheffield' on the other," joked Vincent Illuzzi, prosecutor in a neighboring county.
Illuzzi, who is not involved in the case, theorizes that if she was abducted it was not random, but by someone who had contact with her in some way.
"We're feeling helpless about what to do," said Vos, who got to know O'Hagan when she was president of the Sheffield Historical Society. "We've racked our brains trying to think of anything, like a person who was bothersome, anything.
"We've been praying from the beginning. Now, we're just praying that no matter how bad it is, we want her to be found," Vos said.
Associated Press correspondent John Curran in Montpelier contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS the woman's age in the headline to 78, instead of 87.)