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25 Years Missing: Middle Twp. Police Still Searching for Mark Himebaugh

CAPE MAY COUNTY, N.J. (CBS)— Family and friends will gather at a candlelight vigil tonight for Mark Himebaugh, who went missing 25 years ago today.

November 25, 1991, a fire burned through the marshland beside the home of 11-year-old Mark Himebaugh.

"I saw all the smoke in the sky and I said, 'Oh Mark, it looks like a fire' and of course Mark was an 11-year-old Curious George," said Mark's mother, Maureen Himebaugh."He said, 'Ok mom' and those were his last words, 'Ok mom.'"

So around 3:30 p.m. Maureen allowed her son stay home to watch while she ran a quick errand.  The errand took longer than expected and Mark has never been seen again.

"He said, 'Ok mom' and those were his last words, 'Ok mom.'"

Rich McHale,a retired detective with the Middle Township Police Department says Mark did walk south from his house to check out the fire as confirmed by witnesses, and was also seen returning from the fire. While walking back, Mark was observed stopping to talk to two "persons of interest," in a small white or gray car at approximately 3:30 PM.

A composite sketch of the male passenger was later developed by the New Jersey State Police, but that person, nor the driver have ever been identified.


At the time of his disappearance there was an unidentified witness who said that they had seen Mark with a young girl around his age.

Now, if that girl existed she was never identified — but there is a man named Thomas Butcavage.

Originally from Haverford, Butcavage is currently in prison for child sex crimes. He was tied to the case by a former Philadelphia-area male prostitute who went public with the claim that in 1993 Butcavage showed him a tape depicting the sexual abuse of a child who resembled Himebaugh, the Press of Atlantic City reports.

Butcavage was never charged in connection with Himebaugh's disappearance.

"If anyone knows of any links to Cape May County with Thomas Butcavage we want to hear from you. I was in high school when this happened so it hits home. My brother was friends with Mark," Chief Christopher Leusner, with the Middle Township Police Department.

The only clue left behind in Mark's disappearance is his right sneaker. It was found in the sandy brush a block from the Himebaugh home on the same evening he went missing.


Since then, there have been leads, but no arrests

Butcavage's attorney at the time tells CBS 3 that his former client denied any involvement.

Joe Nicholas trains K-9 search dogs and has spent his career finding missing people.

"He was the perfect little boy. You couldn't forget it."

Out of hundreds, Mark's case is the only one he was unable to help close.

"I spent 25 years with him in my mind and in my heart. I can't imagine what a family or a mother must go through every single day," Nicholas said.

Maureen Himebaugh tells the Press that she may never find out what happened to her son, but hasn't given up hope.

"I've accepted that he might be gone," Maureen Himebaugh said. "I've accepted I could go to my grave (not knowing what happened to him). The reason I want closure is because there's trafficking, and I don't want him to be out there hurting," she added. "That's my biggest fear."

So, tonight, on the 25th anniversary of his disappearance, family and friends will gather at 4 p.m. to share memories of Mark at Cape May County Park South, located in the 900 block of Shore Road. For more information CLICK HERE.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Mark Himebaugh is urged to contact the Middle Township Police Department at 609-465-8700.


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