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Search For Missing College Student Continues In Franklin, Extends Into Bellingham

FRANKLIN (CBS) -- The desperate search for a missing college student in Franklin expanded Tuesday, with dive teams scouring the marshy area near where he was last seen.

Officers started searching the woods and swamp with dogs, boats, helicopters and drones at 5:30 a.m. for 20-year-old Michael Doherty, eventually moving the focus of the search to nearby Bellingham.

Doherty was last seen around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the area of Phyllis Lane, 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.

Doherty is a junior mechanical engineering major at Duke University who was home for summer break.

The search ended Tuesday at sunset. Hundreds of Franklin neighbors, families and friends who love Doherty, and even strangers, lit up the town common Tuesday for a candlelight vigil.

"I just feel like he could be anyone's son," said Laurie Owens. "He's all of Franklin's son. There are so many people here who care about them and are pulling for them and are praying for them."

Michael Doherty
Michael Doherty. (Photo credit: Franklin Police)

His family says he was out with friends at a party on Phyllis Lane when he left alone around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He never made it back to his home on Catherine Avenue, nearly a mile away.

Doherty charged his cell phone a little bit before leaving the home. Police say his phone has shown no activity since then.

Friends told WBZ-TV that Doherty's T-shirt and a shoe were found Sunday in the area now being searched.

A second shoe was found on the edge of a nearby golf course on Monday, and investigators said the clothing items help them to follow which direction Doherty was travelling.

Crews search for missing college student Michael Doherty in a swamp in Franklin. (WBZ-TV)

In the afternoon, a bloodhound caught a scent and took investigators on a path through the woods, across the marsh and brook, through a nearby golf course, and into Bellingham.

Franklin Search
A bloodhound searches for a Duke student who went missing in Franklin. (WBZ-TV)

Later in the day, two more bloodhounds were called to the area to continue tracking the scent.

Franklin Deputy Police Chief James Mills has been keeping Doherty's family informed about the search for their son. He told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl the family is "devastated."

franklin search michael doherty
Dive teams search a swamp in Franklin for Michael Doherty. (WBZ-TV)

"I can't even imagine what these poor parents are going through, their family, their extended family, the friends, it's unimaginable," Deputy Chief Mills said. "We're doing our very best with all the assets to help recover Michael and find him safely."

Franklin police detectives have interviewed more than 30 people who were at the party, as they try to put together a timeline of events in the case.

Anyone who has seen Doherty should call Franklin Police immediately at (508) 528-1212.

"I can't imagine what it's like to lose a son like this. All we can do is hope for the best outcome," one neighbor said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl reports


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