Conway Police have confirmed that human remains found shortly after the disappearance of North Conway teenager Abigail Hernandez in October, 2013 are those of a North Conway man who went missing in the summer of 2006.
Lt. Chris Perley says his department was recently notified by the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office that bones found by searchers in a wooded area near the base of Cranmore Mountain in North Conway during the initial search effort for Hernandez after she disappeared Oct. 9, 2013 are those of John Sweeney of Mechanic St., who disappeared July 29, 2006. Sweeney was 52 at the time.
Perley declines to characterize what remains were found but says his department did provide DNA evidence from Sweeney’s family members to the medical examiner to assist in the investigation, based on a hypothesis they may have been his remains.
Members of Sweeney’s family have been notified of the positive identification. Perley says “it’s tragic to know his life ended but it’s somewhat satisfying we can bring the case to closure and some semblance of peace to the family, knowing he’s not out and about and is resting in peace.”
Perley says there was no animal involved in moving the remains that were found but since Sweeney disappeared several major flooding events in North Conway – including the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene – may have moved the bones. Perley says there’s nothing suspicious to indicate Sweeney was a victim of foul play.
At the time he disappeared, Sweeney faced a felony charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated after he allegedly collided with a motorcycle rider while driving a van on North South Rd. in North Conway on July 20, 2006. The collision broke the rider’s arm and Perley says Sweeney was despondent about the incident.
Perley describes a note that was found at Sweeney’s home after he disappeared as not “exactly a suicide note, more of a parting commentary from a loved one, but it was always a concern and finding him was paramount because he also needed regular medications just to live.”
Conway Police were joined by other law enforcement agencies after Sweeney disappeared – including New Hampshire State Police, New Hampshire Fish and Game officers and North Conway firefighters – in an intensive manhunt that started at Sweeney’s home and included Whitaker Woods in North Conway.
Abigail Hernandez has now been missing for more than three months and the search for her continues.
Anyone who may have seen her or knows where she is is asked to call the toll-free FBI tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI or Conway Police at (603) 356-5715.