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Prayer vigil set for Salem girl

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

SALEM -- With the search for a missing Salem teen-ager stalled, a group of area ministers is asking police and the community to turn to a higher power for help.

On Monday, the Salem Area Ministerial Association will hold an open prayer vigil for Michelle Mero, 16, who was last seen in late May.

The vigil will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Salem Seventh Day Baptist Church on East Main Street, said the Rev. Jon Hayes, a member of the association.

"We want to make area ministers more accessible to the people," Hayes said. "This (search) has been going on about two weeks now, and they're not appearing to get anywhere.

"We will pray and be available to help law enforcement and to comfort the family. We will be there to pray with anybody or to provide comfort."

Mero was reported missing on Aug. 30 by her mother, who lives in North Carolina. Mero's father, Mark Mero, has custody of the teen.

Police have combed the area around her home since they received the report, but have found little, Salem Police Chief Todd Howell said.

Hayes said that all pastors in the area are welcome to take part in the vigil, and that all in the community are welcome to come to the church.

At least one pastor at a time will be present during vigil hours Monday, Hayes said. So far, eight have said they will attend, he said.

Depending on new developments in the investigation, and the turnout at the church Monday, the association might have additional vigils later, Hayes said.

More information about the vigil is available from the Rev. Dale Thorngate, president of the ministerial association, at 782-3525.

Police meanwhile reported no new developments in the investigation Saturday.

Mero is white, 135 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Howell has not released any details about evidence collected during the search, but has said the case is being treated with suspicion, and that police are "very concerned" about her.

Those with information about Mero can leave anonymous tips with the Salem Police Department at 782-1313, the Harrison County Sheriff's Department at 623-6655 or the state police at 623-2300.

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404, or by e-mail at pdarst@Exponent-Telegram.com.

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