Parents of missing Franklin student speak out as desperate search continues

FRANKLIN, MASS. (WHDH) - The parents of a missing Franklin student broke their silence Wednesday as the search for their son continues, more than three days after he was reported missing.

After scouring the area of Phyllis Lane in Franklin for Michael Doherty, 20, authorities shifted their search efforts Tuesday to Bellingham.

“We are desperately hoping Michael can come home,” Doherty’s parents said. “We are devastated, heartbroken and wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

A K9 dog picked up the scent of the Duke University Student, leading crews to the area of Pine and Maple streets, but nothing turned up.

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Crews planned to search higher ground and rough terrain throughout the day on Wednesday. Initial search efforts focused on a wooded area and a swampy marsh, where a shirt and sneaker was pulled from the water.

“Everybody, all the searchers and rescuers, are desperate to find him,” Franklin’s Deputy Police Chief Jim Mill said Wednesday morning.

Doherty’s parents told police on Sunday that their son had not returned home the previous night. He was last seen at a party with friends around 1 a.m. that morning.

“He had a planned ride home. He decided to stay at the party longer. He texted his brother around 12:30 a.m., and said ‘can you come get me?’ They were asleep. My oldest didn’t see it until 3:30 a.m.,” Doherty’s mother Nancy said.

Fighting back tears, Doherty’s mother said he had just returned home from Duke for summer vacation and had plans to take a job at a local supermarket.

“He worked with the football team. He had more Duke clothing than I had ever seen in my life. He just loved it,” Nancy Doherty said of her son.

RELATED: Vigil held for missing Franklin man as search continues

More than 30 people from the party Doherty was last seen at have been interviewed by detectives. State police have called in an air team to assist with the search.

Michael’s father says the support of the community has been important in such a difficult time.

“It’s, I think the only thing, the only reason why we’re still standing,” Dan Doherty said.

A prayer vigil was held Tuesday night in honor of Doherty, who studies engineering.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Franklin or Bellingham police.

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