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A TV ad by Mitt Romney features former business partner Robert Gay crediting Romney with helping reunite Gay with his daughter after she went missing.
On July 6, 1996 the girl sneaked off during the weekend to go to a rave party in New York City, where she took the drug Ecstasy, according to news reports at the time. She had told her parents she was playing tennis.
When she didn't return, Boston-based Bain Capital, where Romney was founder and CEO, essentially shut down to help search for Gay's 14-year-old daughter Melissa.
Bain Capital's 50 employees went to New York, where they convinced more than 200 other people to help search the streets for two days. They printed and passed out fliers. Romney clearly had a leading role in the company's operations, but news reports from the time also said other Bain partners helped coordinate the search effort.
According to news reports, the teen was found in suburban New Jersey. A teenaged boy, who took her in after her partying, called authorities late on July 11.
Lt. David Peterson of the Montville Township Police said police reports at the time do not mention Romney, but Peterson and reports at the time show the Bain Capital search generated important attention to the case of the missing girl.
"The thing was it was a 911 caller that saw her on channel 7 and called in," said Peterson, who recalled waiting for the girl to be picked up from Montville police station.
Gay says Romney helped "save" his daughter, though previous reports have differed on the condition she was in. "Doctors told Gay she might not have lived another day," according to the Boston Globe in 2002.
Newsday reported in July 1996 that "Melissa's parents said she was physically unharmed though she appeared 'very fragile.' The family's doctor had examined the girl and pronounced her in fairly good condition. ..."
"She was not harmed," Robert Gay said at new conference after she was found, according to the New York Daily News . "She was in tears. We just gave her hugs and brought her back home."
The ad says Romney "helped save" the girl, and we certainly aren't going to argue over the physical condition of the girl when she was found. Her Dad says she was "saved," and under the circumstances we won't disagree. The ad also says Romney "helped." Hard to argue with that either. True.
Interview, Lt. David Peterson, Montville Township Police, Dec. 27, 2007.
The New York Times, Missing Teen-Ager Found in New Jersey , July 13, 1996.
The New York Times, Volunteers Search for Missing Girl, 14, in Party Underworld , July 12, 1996.
The Boston Globe, "Romney Seeks High Office with Confidence, Pedigree," Aug. 11, 2002.
The Boston Herald, "Bain staff swung into action for child search," July 13, 1996.
New York Daily News, "Missing teen rave fan is home," July 13, 1996.
Newsday, "Missing 14-year-old found in New Jersey," July 13, 1996.
New York Daily News, "Fearful kin seek missing teen," July 12, 1996.
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