Community continues search for Sterling teen, gathers for vigil - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Community continues search for Sterling teen, gathers for vigil

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People will continue to search for Sterling native Todd TJ Allen. (WFSB) People will continue to search for Sterling native Todd TJ Allen. (WFSB)

Friends and loved ones of an 18-year-old Sterling native continued their search for him on Thursday, despite the rain and snow that fell.

Connecticut State Police and volunteers were among the hundreds who’ve been searching the woods and trails along the Rhode Island border for missing dirt bike rider Todd "TJ" Allen.

There was a change in the search plan on Wednesday evening, as state troopers suspended their search, but loved ones were certainly not abandoning hope.

"The prayers I think that have been answered are the number of people willing to come out in this type of weather and staying out in the rain and at night to search for someone that many of them don't even know," said Reverend Lisa Anderson, of St. John's of Killingly. 

They have even planned a vigil for Thursday night, which was held at 7 p.m. at the Sterling Town Hall on Main Street. 

"Tonight was about hope. When you start working into these later days, hope starts dwindling," said Andrea Pedraza, a spiritual adviser. 

It has been exhaustive over the past few days for Allen’s mother, Christina Moses.

“There’s all these people looking for him and I’m just exhausted,” Moses said. “I'm just mentally exhausted.”

Todd Allen was last seen Monday afternoon. He left his Sterling home on his dirt bike to meet up with friends.

He was supposed to return before dark, but didn’t and was reported missing early Monday night.

Troopers searched along the Rails to Trials bike path in Sterling. Numerous local fire and police departments from Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection joined the search. Hundreds of volunteers also began their own independent search.

Earlier in the week, a text was sent from Todd Allen’s phone saying he crashed his dirt bike and hurt his leg, but attempts to locate it weren’t successful and police suspect the battery failed. 

State police is still the lead agency in this case, but have suspended their search for Thursday. 

Members of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Environmental Conservation Police were continuing "to engage in limited search activities on our lands as they patrol in areas of Eastern Connecticut" on Thursday morning.

"At this point, we are not leading any effort to coordinate search activities with other agencies or volunteer groups," Dennis Schain, who is the communications director for the DEEP, said in a statement on Thursday. 

Even with the rain and some snow in the forecast, friends told Eyewitness News they will push on with their efforts. 

"We've been through the forest and nothing so far," Paul Shinkewicz, who is a friend of Todd Allen, said. "Now, they don't have no organization today. But, we're going to go on our own, pack up the horses or the four wheeler, and try to help."

For updates on the search, click here

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