Since 59-year-old Abbie Flynn went missing on Super Bowl Sunday, people across Cape Ann and further away have been trying to figure out what happened.
People have hypothesized about coyotes, suspicious vehicles, and made connections to drownings and other missing person cases in social media posts and in phone calls to the Times.
The Gloucester Police Department wants to put the public at ease.
"There is no indication, zero at all, no, none that this is connected in any way to any other cases or that foul play was involved," police Chief Ed Conley told the Times on Thursday.
Conley confirmed that this is based on evidence.
"I have been as clear and transparent as I possibly can," he said. "If I thought there was some sort of danger to the public, I would err on the side of releasing that information rather than keep it. But there is none."
The discussion of Flynn's disappearance among community members ramped up on Feb. 9 when a poster on the "Essex, MA--Notices and Issues" Facebook page urged the public, especially "middle-aged women," to take precautions when walking alone and referenced four other missing person cases.
"As of yet there is no word on the missing woman from East Gloucester and perhaps I have watched too many 'Forensic Files' episodes but I find this troubling," the poster wrote.
The post was shared almost 600 times, reacted to over 300 times and had more than 60 comments.
One resident confronted a Times reporter late Wednesday afternoon expressing her concern, having bought several deadbolts to keep strangers out of her house since she has had unwanted guests in the past.
As people hypothesize and do their own personal investigations, Conley explained that he can't prove a negative.
"That is what people want me to do," Conley said. "They are coming up with ideas, they want me to prove that they didn't happen and that is proving a negative and that is impossible to do."
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken shares a similar sentiment, as she referenced how the city is susceptible to rumors during Wednesday's School Committee meeting.
"Right now, we are nothing but a city of rumor mills," she said. "We need to breathe, people."
In an interview with a Times reporter on Thursday, she explained that she doesn't feel fearful for herself or her city.
"People are all over social media ... you give false hope to the family and you give misinformation for the people in fear," Romeo Theken said. "Don't believe everything you read on Facebook."
As he has stated in previous interviews, Conley repeated that he will notify the public if there is any kind of danger.
Both Conley and Assistant Chief Joseph Fitzgerald referenced the knowledgeable assets that have been put into play in this investigation.
"We have experienced investigators looking into this," Conley said, referencing Gloucester's police detectives and his own 10 years as a detective during his years at the Chelsea Police Department.
"It is still an ongoing investigation and we are seeking assistance from other agencies," Fitzgerald said, explaining that who the department works with depends on the resources they are able to utilize for the investigation.
"It is a cooperative effort," he said.
"There is absolutely zero connection with any other missing person at all," Conley said.
"Zero," he reiterated.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.