By Daymond Steer
CONWAY – Nearly 3,200 people participated in a Facebook vigil for missing teen Abigail Hernandez on Sunday night, according organizer Paul Kirsch.
Hernandez, 15, a freshman at Kennett High School, hasn't been seen since the afternoon of Oct. 9 when she left Kennett High at the end of the school day. Law enforcement considers Hernandez to be a missing person.
During the online vigil, which started 6 p.m. Sunday evening, participants were asked to change their Facebook cover photos and profile photos to an image of Hernandez and make Hernandez-related posts periodically throughout the evening.
Kirsch is president of White Mountain Milers, a local running club that Abigail's mother, Zenya, and sister Sarah, belong to. The Milers organized a recent vigil for Hernandez at Schouler Park.
"I will only consider all of this successful once we find Abby, but every little bit we can all do that is focused on finding Abby, we need to do," said Kirsch. "Thirty-one hundred plus people posting about her for four hours is a good thing. We just want to make sure people come forward who might still know something and that they know it's safe for them to come forward."
The official tally of vigil participants is 3,196. About 1,000 of them signed on to the vigil at around 5 p.m. Sunday. Even Gov. Maggie Hassan participated.
Abigail Hernandez's father, Ruben, also wrote on the vigil's page. Ruben Hernandez urged his daughter to signal the family that she's OK if she is able.
The goals of the vigil were to encourage people to come forward if they have information about Hernandez and also to keep Hernandez's story out there in the public eye.
"We will continue to strive to find creative ways to keep the message out there in the hope that someone remembers something and that leads to the key to finding Abby," said Kirsch.
The FBI's lead investigator Kieran Ramsey said the FBI appreciates what the Milers are doing.
"We were buoyed by the Facebook effort organized yesterday by the White Mountain Milers and continue to hope that everyone's efforts bring Abby home," said Ramsey.
Conway Police Lt. Chris Perley called the online vigil a "great expression of community support."
Many people left messages on the vigil's page.
"I live a world away but your story has really touched me," wrote Sarah Dilligaf Johnstone. "I pray you are found safe and your parents may have the peace they must be craving. In my thoughts, kiddo."
Celebrities are taking up the cause.
The Missing Help Find Abigail Hernandez Facebook page reported that actress Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby on CBS' NCIS, Tweeted about Hernandez.
"This real Abby is missing," reads a Tweet from Perrette's Twitter account.
Morgan Fairchild retweeted (shared) information about the online vigil. The request to retweet came from online vigil organizer Amanda Smith.
Anyone with information about Hernandez is encouraged to call 1-800-CALL FBI.