Authorities Hunting Missing N.H. Children

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Two New Hampshire children are missing after they disappeared with their father from a Fourth of July fireworks display. The father was arrested a week later in California and won't tell authorities where the kids are.

"We are very, very concerned,"state Attorney General Peter Heed said at a news conference Friday.

Authorities are asking people across the county to help find Sara Gehring, 14, and Philip Gehring, 11.

Manuel Gehring, 44, an accountant, was arrested Thursday night at a Gilroy, Calif., hotel just south of San Jose, after streaking across country in a green van with New Hampshire license plates. His children were not with him, and authorities said they are concerned the brother and sister might have been harmed.

Assistant Attorney Jeffery Strelzin said the father and daughter may have argued at the fireworks display.

Authorities traced Gehring 3,200 miles to California with a six-day trail of credit card receipts from transactions along Interstates 84 and 80 in seven states from coast to coast.

"He would have had to be moving at quite a clip,"said FBI Agent Jay Fallon.

Fallon said the transactions were at ATMs, gas stations and convenience stores. He said there was no indication, so far, that Gehring used his card for hotels, motels or other overnight stops.

Police and FBI agents across the country are visiting the locations to see if anyone remembered seeing the father and children.

"We are ... anxious to see if perhaps, he stopped for gas, if he stopped to pick up supplies, pick up food, ate with the children,"Fallon said."We hope someone might remember that they saw Mr. Gehring and the children in one of these locations."

Gehring's 1998 Green Pontiac van was recovered in California.

Fallon outlined the following route, based on credit card receipts: July 5, Newburgh, N.Y. and Emlenton, Pa.; July 6, Joliet, Ill. and Iowa City, Iowa; July 7, Greenwood, Neb.; July 8, Winnemucca and Sparks, Nev.; July 9, Rocklin, N. Highlands and San Francisco, Calif.; July 10, Gilroy, Calif.

Strelzin said he did not know yet whether there were any signs the children had been harmed in the van or whether they were with their father for the entire trip. He said they literally could be anywhere in the country.

"We are asking anyone who may have seen the children, or seen Mr. Gehring either in New Hampshire or anywhere else along this route to contact the police department,"Strelzin said.

Gehring, who is divorced and lived in Concord, was an accountant in the Nashua area, Strelzin said.

He had custody of the children last week and was to have dropped his son off at camp on Sunday. When the child didn't show up, their mother, Teresa Knight of Hillsboro, grew worried and called police.

Knight would not comment, according to Jim Knight who answered the phone at the Knight residence.

Authorities would not comment on whether weapons were found when Gehring was arrested or what he told them about the children.

Strelzin said there was no history of custody disputes in the family.