I get so many hits from my Ted blog. And then I remember the book is out of print and hella expensive. It’s not like you can get it on Amazon for a dollar like most books. How does a book get out of print? Were there not many copies bought? It seems like that would have been a popular book. Those types of books are crazy popular now. Any one can write a book these days. It’s so easy to buy books now too.
I’m a major book worm. I read really fast so it’s an expensive hobby. I had boxes and boxes of books but this year, I went through them all and donated about 250 to the local library. It’s sad walking into a library now. More dvds than books. Empty shelves. I used to love going there as a kid. I’d just walk from stack to stack, pulling out any book that caught my eye. My dad would follow me patiently, carrying my insane amount of books. My hometown library will always have a special place in my heart.
The Ted book is one of my prized possessions. Not because of the price but because of the insight. It irks me that he wasn’t locked up in some super secure plastic bubble where we could poke and prod and study him. There’s so many unanswered questions. And not just my own selfish ones. But families out there with missing girls. That’s so heartbreaking.
I see stories all the time in the news about missing girls. Vanished into thin air. They get their 15 seconds of air time and then they are forgotten. Not just by the general media but from people right there in the thick of things. I know because I’ve seen it.
A girl went missing in the town that I grew up in. I was very young but her younger brother and I were only a few years apart. I’d heard rumors about girls going missing. It was your typical small town rumors. Bambi was in the water tower. To this day, I cannot find one single record about a girl named Bambi going missing. But I do know there was a real girl. There were whispers. “That’s her brother.” I didn’t really know the details until years later.
In high school, I dated his best friend and was friends with his girlfriend. We all went to prom together and we went by his house for his mom to see us all dressed up. That was the first time I’d ever met someone who lost a daughter to something so brutal and so horrible and so evil. Mind you, this was 15 or so years later. Their house was a shrine to her. Pictures all over the place. She’d never gotten over her grief. Soon after her daughter went missing, she pulled her other kids out of school. Eventually they went back but she was a wreck when any of them left the house. She slept on the couch. She could barely look at us. I had no idea how to react or what to say or do. I was really shocked.
For the sake of privacy, I’m going to call her Michelle. Michelle was a beautiful girl. And your typical teenager. That day…she skipped school. Something we all did. Something I never thought twice about. She walked down the hall and out the back door. A door I’d used a million times. She walked the same street that I’d walked home on countless times.
A serial killer from Texas rode into town in his RV for a chiropractic appointment. Pure chance. Pure coincidence. We don’t know if he grabbed her or if she willingly took the ride. It was a time where small towns were safe. Everyone knew everyone. And if you didn’t know someone, you assumed that someone else did. It wasn’t a town that people traveled to for fun. But all the same, she didn’t live another day. She was raped and murdered and left in the woods and by the time a hunter stumbled over her remains, only a jaw bone was left.
Michelle is buried next to my grandfather. Every time I visited him, I’d sit for a few minutes with her grave as well. I didn’t know her but it broke my heart to think that she was a piece of our town that was forgotten. The only time she was mentioned was when people talked about the rumor that her body was found behind the school. That wasn’t true. Not a person other than her family knew was really happened to her.
I do because I cared. Every so often, I’d google her name. One day a few years ago, I got lucky. I found an article that mentioned her name. It was about her killer. And his execution. It also mentioned the name of the detective that had worked the killer’s case. He was sure that this man had killed Michelle. I had to know more. I looked up where he worked. I emailed their police station. It was a few weeks before he called me. I explained awkwardly who I was and how I knew about Michelle. I was nervous that he would think I was completely nutters but he understood. He told me what he knew about this man. And filled in the blanks about Michelle’s last day and her death. He’d wanted to talk to Michelle’s parents but had never heard back from them. He wondered if I could pass along the message.
Boy was that the weirdest Myspace message I ever sent. “So hey remember me? I dated so and so and we went to prom together. This might be really weird but so I’ve got this sort of passion and your sister is buried next to my grandfather and long story short, I know who killed her and I’m not sure what your family knows but the detective would like to speak with you so here’s his number, please don’t hate me.”
He did know about her killer. In fact, his parents attended his execution. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about me bringing this up but would pass along the number. I haven’t talked to the detective since but I was so impressed that he cared enough to still want to give closure 15 years after Michelle was murdered. Like I said before, not every family gets that. Closure certainly isn’t peace. Knowing the details of how your daughter died is a double edged sword. Michelle’s mother never came back from that day. Even after knowing. Even after the man was executed. I would have moved away. But I guess, there’s no real moving away from something like that.
I feel like part of being in this world is remembering those who don’t get to be.