Divers continue search for James Lusher's body in Becket pond; nothing found yet


BECKET -- State Police divers Thursday morning began the final day of their three-day search of Greenwater Pond for the remains of a 16-year-old Westfield boy, hopeful they may find something and determined to continue looking.

"At this point, there's nothing to report in terms of discovery of any evidence," said State Police Lt. Col. Timothy B. Alben during a late-morning news conference. "But we're not necessarily disappointed with that. We've covered the area that we wanted to."

Today's search is scheduled to last until roughly 2 p.m. Divers are still concentrating their efforts on an area located on the north side of the pond near Route 20, where state police have said convicted child killer Lewis Lent Jr. told them he placed the body of James "Jamie" Lusher, who disappeared 21 years ago.

Lent, a former North Adams resident, is serving life in prison for the murders of two children, including 12-year-old Jimmy Bernardo, of Pittsfield, and 12-year-old Sara Anne Wood, of Frankfort, N.Y.

On Monday, law enforcement authorities said Lent had confessed to killing Lusher, who disappeared on Nov. 6, 1992, and placed his body in Greenwater Pond.

Alben said this morning that divers were doing grid searches in an area of the pond that is 35 feet deep and has a water temperature of 44 degrees. The 18 divers from the Massachusetts and New York state police departments participating in recovery efforts are operating in half-hour shifts, he said.

He said the topography at the pond's bottom varies from gravel to five inches of silt to several feet of silt.

"Divers down there at that level are flowing grid ropes, but they're literally going hand-by-hand," Alben said. "It's tough. As soon as you start touching some of the material [at that level] it evaporates very quickly. It's dark, as you can imagine."

On Monday, Alben said State Police were hopeful and optimistic they may recover some trace of Lusher from the pond, which is 58 feet deep in some places. But Alben also said authorities had to be "realistic" because so much time has passed since Lusher disappeared on Nov. 6, 1992.

"If you go back to the press conference on Monday, I said we have to manage expectations here," Alben said. "This is a crime that is purported to have occurred almost 21 years ago. I compare this to looking for a needle in a haystack, except, quite frankly, we find needles in haystacks quite frequently in this business."


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