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The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office hopes modern technology will help in the search for Russell Mort, who was 2½ when he disappeared May 5, 1982, from his fenced in backyard at 2080 River Road in the Town of Wheatfield.

With assistance from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an updated photo of how Mort would look as a man of 34 has been released in hopes of generating new leads. As a boy, he had light brown hair, brown eyes, a small cleft on his chin and a small mole on the left side of his chin.

Russell had reportedly been playing in his sandbox at his family’s residence in the Lynch Trailer Park. Ruth Mort, the boy’s mother, told police that she went inside for a few minutes to fix a toy and when she returned, he was gone. The gate in the fence was still closed and locked from the outside.

Russell was never seen again.

Some believe he may have been abducted, and investigators have searched for several suspicious individuals without success. Other officials believe he fell into the Niagara River, which was about 100 yards from his home, and was swept away. But there is no evidence to support that theory.

Friday, the eighth annual “Ride for Missing and Exploited Children,” which began at the Getzville Fire Department on Dodge Road, traveled into Niagara County. A portion of the ride in Niagara County was designated as a silent tribute to honor Russell Mort.

The riders traveled through Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda before returning to Erie County. All proceeds benefitted the Buffalo branch of the organization to help support efforts to bring missing children home and promote child safety education.

This year’s ride began with a message from Russell Mort’s mother encouraging the riders to never forget the missing.

Anyone with information regarding the case of Russell Mort’s disappearance is encouraged to call the 24-hour hotline of National Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678. Locally, you can contact the Niagara County Sheriff Office’s 24-hour number at 439-3393 or Investigator John Wick at 438-3342 during normal business hours.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com