Search for missing Massachusetts teen's remains begins - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Search for missing Mass. teen's remains begins

Updated:

BECKET, Mass. – Dive teams from Massachusetts State Police and New York State Police have started searching for the remains of 16-year-old James "Jamie" Lusher.

Lusher went missing from Westfield, Mass. in November 1992 after leaving his home on a bicycle ride. Now, Massachusetts State Police say a Berkshire County man already serving life in prison for killing two other children has confessed to killing the teen.

Officials say 18 divers and five boats began searching for Lusher's remains using sonar equipment in Greenwater Pond around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The pond in Becket spans 88 acres and is almost 60 feet deep in some areas. Police say their search focuses on the west side of the pond, where convicted killer Lewis Lent says he dumped the body of the teen more than 20 years ago.

Police say they are optimistic but also want to remain realistic about what they may find. Police say the search will be "tedious" and is scheduled to last for the next three days. They say the search will focus on a pair of boots the teen was wearing when he was last seen.

Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni announced Monday that Lewis Lent was responsible for the disappearance and death of Lusher.

Police said they suspected Lent may have been involved in Lusher's death back in 1994 and have spoken with him on the matter about ten times since. More recently, though, police said he began to open up. Police were then able to go to the district attorney and work out a deal. Since Lent is already serving a sentence of life in prison without parole they agreed to not prosecute him in exchange for his admission of guilt.

"We've concluded that Lewis Lent is responsible," Mastroianni said. "The next part of the investigation is now open, the part of the investigation that deals with recovery of Jamie's remains. That part of the investigation is now open and active."

Lusher's father and sister, Jennifer Nowak, are expected to be present at the recovery efforts.

"You don't want to hear it; you do, but you don't," Nowak said. "You want closure, you want to put the whole story to an end, but it's so shocking to hear, how he took him into a van, then dumped his bike, then dumped his body, it's just awful. For my father, I think if they found something, then he could have a little more closure and put a little more peace in his heart."

Lent, a former handyman and janitor from North Adams, was convicted of the 1990 killing of 12-year-old Jimmy Bernardo of Pittsfield. He also pleaded guilty to the 1993 abduction and slaying of 12-year-old Sara Ann Wood of Norwich Corners, in central New York.

Sara was walking her bike home in the Mohawk Valley town of Litchfield in August 1993 when she was abducted. Lent pleaded guilty three years later to killing the girl and later told authorities he buried her in the Adirondacks. After more than a dozen searches, her body has never been found.

NEWS CENTER is at the recovery efforts and will post any updates on NEWS10.com.

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