- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The father of two New Hampshire children whose disappearance has led to a cross-country search has been indicted on charges of murder, though the youngsters’ bodies have not been found.

The indictment, handed up Friday and announced yesterday, charges that Manuel Gehring, 44, fatally shot his children in New Hampshire. Authorities have refused to say how they know that.

Mr. Gehring and the children, Sarah, 14, and Philip, 11, were last seen in Concord on July Fourth. He was arrested without them July 10 in Gilroy, Calif. He left California under police and FBI escort last week and was expected to return to New Hampshire today.

Mr. Gehring had been in a custody battle with his ex-wife. Authorities said he did not return the children to her July 6, as agreed.

Investigators searching for the bodies have focused on the route he drove to California. Police and prosecutors have declined to say whether Mr. Gehring has cooperated in the search, which has covered several Midwestern states.

“We don’t have a specific location,” said Jeff Strelzin, a prosecutor in New Hampshire.

Mr. Gehring’s ex-wife, Teresa Knight, said in court papers July 7 that he had told her in a “very agitated and angry” call that he had no intention of abiding by a new custody agreement.

Authorities said Mr. Gehring left after arguing with his daughter at an Independence Day fireworks show in Concord, where he lived. According to prosecutors and court records, both children were crying as they walked to his car.

His trip was traced across the country, mainly on Interstate 80, using credit-card receipts. Authorities from Pennsylvania to California helped in the investigation.

Mr. Gehring’s neighbor and close friend Linda DeSantis, whose children both played with Philip, said she is struggling to understand why Mr. Gehring might have killed his children.

“I just wish he would say something to somebody about where they are, so they can be brought home properly,” she said.

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