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MISSING CHILDREN Mother continues to search



Published: Sat, June 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



She hopes to find her children, buried somewhere in the Midwest, before fall.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Terri Knight knows all too well about the cycle of life. In the summer of 2003, she lost her two children to a murderous ex-husband. Five months later, she gave birth to twins, who were lifeboats in her sea of devastation.

"It would have been so easy for me to start drinkin' and sinkin', but I didn't because I was pregnant," she says. "And I have to keep getting up in the morning because they are there."

Her missing children, Sarah and Philip, are there, too.

Teddy bears, one for Philip, one for Sarah, are in the twins' room. Sarah's is dressed in a Concord High School cheerleading uniform, complete with pom-poms. An identical bear travels with her former teammates.

Philip's bear wears overalls, like the kind he wore in a locally produced movie.

Both have angel wings.

Keeping memories alive

Terri Knight's angels are buried somewhere in the Midwest. That's what their father, Manuel Gehring, told police after he was arrested in California in July 2003.

He left Concord with the kids on the Fourth of July, and admitted shooting them in his minivan, digging graves somewhere along 700 miles of Interstate 80 and burying them.

Gehring was unable to pinpoint the site, and widespread searches came up empty. He killed himself in jail, ending any hope he might be of more help.

Knight and her husband, Jim, are headed to the area in two weeks, hoping to revive interest in the case and attract tips to lead police to the gravesite.

Knight, who lives in Hillsboro, said in a recent interview that raising twins Mallory and Molly, now 19 months old, while longing for the children who were taken away, have made the last two years an emotional roller coaster.

She carries all four children with her wherever she goes, wearing one of Sarah's rings on her pinkie and all four kids' birthstones in another ring.

She also wears a locket that contains photos of Sarah, who was 14, and Philip, who was 11, along with ones of Mallory and Molly.

It makes a clicking sound as she snaps it open and closed.

"You can hear me do this" all day, she said.

On a mission

She said she does better emotionally when she's occupied, and often she's occupied trying to figure out where Sarah and Philip are buried.

"Once I thought had an area pretty narrowed down in Pennsylvania and Ohio," she said, but then she saw information that pointed just as strongly to other areas.

"I thought I had it down to about a 200-mile range and it went back up to 700 and I just sunk. I plummeted, is more like it, because I felt like it was too overwhelming," she said.

She worries her high hopes for her Midwestern trip might set her up for a big fall.

"Oh yeah," she said softly. "The hardest part would be on the day before you head home, just getting in the car ... and not having done what you wanted to do."

She wants to find the children before fall, which brings her closer to another winter.

Winter -- once her favorite season with the kids -- now just reminds her that any trace of them is buried in snow.

"Winter is very long ... so right now I'm just going to hope that this [trip] works."

Bringing them home

When the kids were younger, winter meant laughter as Knight helped teach them to ski.

Philip was a chore, she remembered with a laugh.

"Sarah picked it up and she was gone, but you carry a 5-year-old between your legs, up and down, up and down," she said.

"We'd get on the three-person chairlift and tell ghost stories," she said. "It was just fun."

Knight needs people in the Midwest to take notice of the case again. And she hopes baring her own emotions will help.

To that end, she is anxious for the public to see and hear public service announcements that soon will be available for television and radio stations.

They are intended to tug at people's heartstrings, including segments from "The Lemonade Stand," the movie Philip appeared in.

And she hopes they will help bring the children home.

"They at least deserve to be found and to have a proper burial," she said. Then, after a pause: "And maybe I deserve a little bit, too. I don't deserve to have to be doing this."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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