FRANKLIN (CBS) – For the first time since their son disappeared early Sunday morning, the parents of a missing college student from Franklin spoke to the media, saying they are devastated and heartbroken as the focus of a desperate search shifted into Bellingham.
Additional bloodhounds were brought in Tuesday to try and follow Michael Doherty’s scent after the 20-year-old’s sneakers were found in two different swampy locations near the town line.
Police and volunteers have been spending each day searching for Doherty from 5:30 a.m. until dark, and plan to do so again Wednesday if needed.
Doherty was last seen around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the area of Phyllis Lane in Franklin, after he left a party. He was walking home in the rain wearing a blue T-shirt with a Nike logo, black pants and sneakers. He’s white, 5-feet 10-inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes.
Wednesday afternoon, Doherty’s parents spoke to reporters as the search continued.
Nancy Doherty, Michael’s mother, said her son had a planned ride home from the party. But he decided to stay late, and texted his brothers asking if they could come pick him up.
Neither saw the message because they were asleep.
Nancy Doherty said the family is “devastated, heartbroken and we just want our son home.”
Police are continuing the search Wednesday for a third day.
“Everybody – all the searchers, the rescuers, the volunteers, they’re desperate to find him,” said Deputy Police Chief James Mills.
“Everybody out there can understand what this family is going through.”
Doherty is a junior mechanical engineering major at Duke University who was home for summer break.
His mother said he wanted to Duke since he was in 10th grade, and was set to be captain of the club hockey team next season.
“Michael was smart. He was funny. Respectful, just a fine young man,” Nancy Doherty said.
A candlelight vigil was held on the Franklin common Tuesday night. Families wore Duke’s colors, blue and white, to offer their support to the Doherty family and pray for a miracle to bring Michael home.
“I just feel like he could be anyone’s son. He’s all of Franklin’s son. I wanted to be here to share the love and let the family know there are so many who care about them and are pulling and praying for them,” said Franklin resident Laurie Owens.
Investigators have interviewed more than 30 people who were at the house party with Doherty Saturday night. Friends say he left in the rain with little cell phone battery.
Police do not suspect foul play.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports