Family, friends, former classmates, and neighbors of Janice Pockett gathered for an emotional ceremony to remember the young Tolland girl who disappeared 40 years ago.
The town's 300th Anniversary Committee raised money for a bench to honor the seven-year-old and it was dedicated at the Cross Farms Recreation Complex on Rhodes Road Friday night, the anniversary of her disappearance.
The bench features Janice's picture, a butterfly, and the words "Never Stop Looking."
"It's hard to believe it's been 40 years," Mary Engelbrecht, Janice's younger sister, told the crowd.
Janice loved butterflies.
When she disappeared, Janice was on her way to retrieve the butterfly she placed under a rock on Rhodes Road days earlier.
That was July 26, 1973.
She's never been seen since and the case remains unsolved.
"There's nothing worse than not knowing what happened to my sister but there's always hope and I will not give up that perhaps someday her disappearance can be solved," said Engelbrecht.
State police Lt. Paul Vance told the crowd tips are still coming in and he made a public plea for new leads.
"If you know anything, give it to us anonymously, write us a letter, send us an email," said Lt. Vance.
Organizers of the dedication displayed missing posters and news articles from the case.
Barbara Dube was among the hundreds who helped search for Janice after she disappeared.
"This is a wonderful town and we stick together and this shows it," said Dube.
As the ceremony ended, Janice's loved ones released butterflies into the air in honor of the girl they lost so long ago.
"It means so much to me that so many people have kept my sister alive in their hearts all these years. I'm just touched," said Engelbrecht.
Pockett was one of three girls who went missing from the Tolland and Vernon areas back in the 1960's and 1970's. The other two are Lisa White and Deborah Spickler. None of those cases have ever been solved.