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Police seize stepfather's truck in probe of missing girl's death

Law enforcement officials looking into the death of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl whose body was pulled from a river this week entered her home with a warrant Wednesday and impounded her stepfather's pickup truck, as her mother began making arrangements for a private memorial service.

New Hampshire State Police loaded the late-model silver pickup truck onto a flatbed, and gloved crime scene technicians examined its undercarriage before it was hauled away.

Investigators also re-entered the home as they sought evidence that could assist in the criminal investigation into the death of Celina Cass, who was last seen at a computer at her home the night of July 25 and was reported missing the next morning, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said.

The fifth-grader was missing for a week before her body was found Monday in the Connecticut River, which divides New Hampshire and Vermont. An autopsy didn't immediately provide the cause or manner of her death. Investigators labeled her death suspicious and said the case was being treated as a criminal investigation.

With their home cordoned off by police tape, the family is staying with friends and relatives, but friends won't disclose the family's location.

Close family friend Jeanine Brady, the employer of Celina's mother, Louisa Noyes, said the girl's body has been turned over to the family and a private service is being planned.

She said Noyes has been surrounded by her family since Celina's disappearance.

"She needed the utmost privacy," she said.

The pickup was the second vehicle hauled away from the home in Stewartstown, a community of 800 residents. Police last week impounded a red pickup truck that neighbors say was driven by Kevin Mullaney, who had moved in with the family.

Mullaney and Celina's stepfather, Wendell Noyes, have previously run afoul of the law. Mullaney was charged in a string of car thefts in 2007, and Wendell Noyes was arrested in 2003 for allegedly breaking into an ex-girlfriend's home and threatening to throw her down a flight of stairs, according to court documents.

Wendell Noyes was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after the 2003 break-in. An order signed by a probate judge indicated he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Mullaney pleaded guilty to stealing five cars and trucks in 2007 and was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison and a consecutive term of four months in jail.

Friends close to Louisa Noyes say Mullaney, 23, is the son of a former boyfriend and moved into the Noyes' home about a year ago, joining Wendell and Louisa Noyes and her children, Celina and an older sister, Kayla.

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