Parents ‘Desperately Hoping' for Missing Student's Return

Search teams expanded their range from Franklin, Massachusetts to nearby Bellingham on Tuesday

The search for a 20-year-old Duke University student who went missing after leaving a late-night party over the weekend is continuing on Wednesday.

Search teams expanded their range from Franklin, Massachusetts, to neighboring Bellingham on Tuesday to look for any sign of Michael Doherty, who never made it home from a party over the weekend.

"We are desperately hoping Michael is going to come home," his mother, Nancy Doherty, said on Wednesday. "That's all we want. We are devastated, heartbroken... Our son was the love of our life. We're not sure what to do."

The 2015 Xaverian Brothers High School graduate was last seen leaving a gathering of about 25 childhood friends on Phyllis Lane in Franklin at 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He had just returned home from college for summer break last week.

His parents reported him missing after he didn't return home from the party. His family said Doherty texted his brothers asking for a ride at 12:30 a.m., but they were already asleep. Doherty ultimately decided to walk roughly a mile to his home.

"He probably thought it was a shortcut through the woods," his mother said.

Police searched a wooded area and stream nearby on Monday. On Tuesday, police dispatched additional resources to the search, with K9 units on land and dive teams in Mine Brook. Helicopters and drones are also participating in the search. 

Authorities also announced Tuesday that they found a shirt and shoe on one side of the water and another shoe on the opposite embankment. They said it does not appear they washed up there, based on their condition.

Residents in Bellingham's Maple Street area received reverse 911 calls Tuesday afternoon asking them to check their sheds after a bloodhound followed Doherty's scent through the woods at the end of Oak Street Extension in Franklin. They were continuing to search on the Bellingham side of the marshy area on Wednesday.

"I think everybody out there can understand what this family is going through. It's unimaginable," Deputy Franklin police Chief James Mill said Wednesday. "Everybody - all the searchers, the rescuers, all the volunteers - they're desperate to find him."

Mill said the searchers were out at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and will continue searching until nightfall.

"It's still very marshy and watery in areas," he said, "but there's some upland area, so it's not going to be as difficult as the past two days."

Doherty was wearing a blue shirt with a Nike symbol along with black pants and sneakers when he disappeared. He is described as about 5'10" tall, with brown hair and eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Franklin police at 508-528-1212.

There is no indication of foul play at this point.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of people gathered at Franklin Commons for a candlelight vigil, showing support to Doherty's family. Those in attendance were asked to wear blue and white for Duke University, or their jerseys if they played a sport with Doherty.

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