An East Hampton mother has been missing since late July and on Thursday, a group of volunteers and close friends searched an area in Portland.
Friends said 30-year-old Jini Barnum went missing nearly six weeks ago.
"We're not giving up," said her friend, Samantha Vernik.
The disappearance of Barnum is being treated as a criminal case and after meeting with police and a prosecutor, her friends were told to search the Jobs Pond and Great Hill Lake area for any clues.
"That's where the cellphone ping could've been," Vernik said. "There's a tower in East Haddam. The range is possible in these areas of Portland."
Barnum is a frequent cellphone, texting and Facebook user, according to friends and her cellphone was last used on July 29. Her wallet and cellphone have not been located since she left her Main Street apartment that day.
"I am starting to feel a little bit hopeless," Vernik said. "But, I am still trying to find her."
The mother of a 6-month-old infant was reported missing by her boyfriend, Tony Garofalo, after they had a fight.
Garofalo has not been ruled out as a suspect in the case by police. He denies having anything to do with her disappearance. He is currently in prison for violating his parole, according to police.
"I've always considered Tony a good guy and they had a great relationship," Vernik said. "It'd be very unfortunate, we'd be very surprised, if it was Tony."
The infant named Taylor is currently in the care of family members.
"I am hoping she's alive," Vernik said. "I don't want to think negatively."
Police are still actively investigating the case and Thursday's search was not the first. Previous searches have been conducted involving dive teams and K-9 units.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact East Hampton police at 860-267-9922.
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