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Family Of Baltimore Mother Missing Since 1986 Launches New Search Campaign

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It was on this day in 1986 a Baltimore mother left work for the day and was never seen or heard from again. Now her family members are launching a renewed effort to re-investigate her disappearance.

As Derek Valcourt explains, they believe a piece of high-tech equipment could help crack the case.

Bernadette Caruso's disappearance 26 years ago still baffles Baltimore County police, but her family isn't giving up.

Caruso was 23 years old when she vanished without a trace in 1986 after leaving work.

Her disappearance was repeatedly spotlighted on WJZ over the years.

"It was here in the parking lot of Eastpoint Mall that Bernadette Caruso was last seen by anyone who's spoken up so far," Don Scott reported in 1986.

Caruso was the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and one of seven siblings in a tight-knit family.

"This has been devastating," said Sam Bowerman, original investigator.

Bowerman was the lead investigator in the case and has since married one of Caruso's sisters.

"As an investigator, we feel that, being involved in the investigation, that it was a well-planned conspiracy to abduct and murder Bernadette," he said.

Police never found Caruso or her 1982 gray-green Chevy Cavalier despite intense searches following tips about certain Baltimore County bodies of water.

That's why her family members are now on a campaign to help raise $26,000 to purchase special high-tech sonar equipment on behalf of the Maryland Task Force for the Missing and Unidentified.

And in an era of tight budgets, police agencies say any help is appreciated.

"If they are successful in obtaining this sonar then we will obviously look at not only this case but any other open case that we have to see if this equipment could be used to help our investigations," said Cathy Batton, Baltimore County Police.

"We're going to continue to help other families, but as far as our search to bring Bernadette home, to bring the individuals to justice, that will never ever end for us. Never," Bowerman said.

Family members say they'll spend the next year or so reaching out to the public as they try to raise funds for that sonar.

For more information on the Caruso case or for information on how to make a donation to help purchase that special sonar, click here.

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