Cheryl’s father picks up the phone and calls the nearest neighbors. He explains that the kids are missing and they could use some help trying to find them. Those neighbors call other neighbors who then call others until there are over forty men and women milling around the farm. When the county deputy shows up, he recognizes that somebody’s going to have to take charge and it looks like it’s going to have to be him.
He climbs up into the back of a pickup truck and shouts for everyone’s attention. “Okay, listen up, folks! We’ve got a little six-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy missing and it’s going to be dark before long. We need to split up into teams and scour the woods and fields hereabouts. Let’s try to find ’em before it gets dark.”
A bearded, gut-heavy man lifts his arm in the air, “Hey, Terry…over here!”
“I see ya, Willard. What’s on yer mind?”
“I guess I’m just wondering why we don’t have blood hounds out here to help us? Isn’t that the quickest way to find runaways?”
Terry takes his ball cap off, runs his hand over his bald pate, and then shakes his head. “Willard, come on. You know we don’t have blood hounds. Where in the hell would we come up with money in the budget for blood hounds? And nobody said anything about runaways. Fact of the matter is, right now, we don’t know what’s happened to the kids. Any number of scenarios could end up playing out, but for now, we’re assuming they just wandered off and got lost. That’s usually what happens ’round these parts. So nobody go makin’ this worse than it already is. Ya hear?”
There’s a lot of mumbling and grumbling, some nodding of heads, some narrowed eyes studying the deputy. Most of these folks remember the last time a couple of kids disappeared…not all that long ago. And no one ever did turn up any kind of clues as to their whereabouts. Who’s to say this time will be any different? And who’s to say that one of these very folks who’ve shown up to help search isn’t responsible for the disappearance in the first place?
- 100 years of mystery: The Villisca ax murders (omaha.com)