Monday will mark one week since Peconic teen Ashley Murray went missing, and over the weekend, Southold police and other agencies continued their extensive investigation, conducting searches and pursuing various leads.
Since Ashley disappeared, news of her disappearance has brought communities near and far together, with some creating Facebook pages and the Southold school district doing everything to help.
After friends and concerned parties organized a search party for Ashley on Thursday, some questioned why the Southold police suggested that volunteers not actively go out and search area beaches and woods.
On Sunday, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley addressed the searching issue.
"The whole premise of conducting searches with volunteers is predicated first on intelligence that suggests the area to be searched has some significance in the investigation," he said. "It does not accomplish anything positive by randomly searching areas for the police or the volunteer groups."
Flatley added, "Early on in this investigation we conducted very specific searches with K-9 teams because of the location Ashley was last seen. These searches expanded as further information developed on possible areas of interest that necessitated a search. We have been careful to conduct these searches with K-9 teams and aviation because K-9 teams are much more effective when areas to be searched have not been contaminated by other human scents."
The public's help could still be needed, he added. "We certainly would always keep the option of the public assisting us search should the specific need arise."
Flatley said since Ashley went missing, police have launched an extensive investigation that has covered over 30 geographical areas and included interviews of at least 35 to 40 individuals. Over the weekend, an additional five locations since last reported have been searched for the missing teen in Southold Town alone.
On Friday, Southold police issued detailing investigation efforts.
Police said since receiving a report on Monday morning that Ashley did not arrive at Southold High School, after the department's initial response to her home, it became "evident that Ashley was truly missing and may have left her home with intentions of harming herself."
Immediately, police said they launched an investigation in conjunction with a physical search of neighboring areas, which included a K-9 unit, a dive team, and a marine unit all joining in the search, as well as assistance from the Suffolk County Police Department's aviation unit, which commenced an aerial search.
As the search continued into the seventh day, with no sign of Ashley, police said they have "employed all assets" afforded to the department to include assistance from units within the Suffolk County police department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York State Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Shelter Island Town police department, and all members of the Southold Town police department.
"The Southold Town police department, with the assistance of our law enforcement partners, are committed to continue this extensive investigation and have always encouraged all members of the public to contact our department with any information as to Ashley Murray's whereabouts," the release stated.
On Saturday, Ashley's family issued a statement thanking the police and the public for their efforts and asked for "privacy."