Have You Seen Andy?



7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12

We're told that about 58,000 children are abducted in the U.S. every year. It is tragically common. And yet this "Cinemax Reel Life" film manages to profoundly resonate in its ability to so vividly personalize one such child's disappearance more than 30 years ago.

"Have You Seen Andy?" chronicles the search for elusive answers by one of 10-year-old Andy Puglisi's best friends, filmmaker Melanie Perkins, who had been haunted by the memory of a boy on whom she had a crush when he vanished from a public pool in Lawrence, Mass., in August 1976. Puglisi never would be seen again, gone without a trace in a case that remains unsolved. So she picked up a camera in 1998 and started asking questions of everyone from Andy's mother to his school chums, kids from the neighborhood, forensic experts and local and state police. This haunting 90-minute account is the result.

Writer-producer-director Perkins -- who was a mere 9 years old when Puglisi disappeared -- shares some disturbing insights about the inadequacies in child-abduction investigations at the time, revealing how a nation of 50 states behaved like 50 different countries in terms of sharing information. The town of Lawrence mounted a six-day search for Andy that elicited scarcely a clue. Perkins reports there were at least five known pedophiles hanging out at the public pool from which her friend was taken, with a likely culprit surfacing in an imprisoned molester named Wayne W. Chapman, who is thought to have lured Andy into the woods on the typical ruse of helping him look for a lost dog.

The documentary ultimately provides neither the filmmaker nor the boy's family much closure, but it's nonetheless an absorbing, often tormenting glimpse at the mystery surrounding an unspeakable crime whose reverberations live on.