Last Seen Wearing Green
The biggest fear I have as an officer is being called to the scene of a missing child. It puts dread in my heart and a sick feeling in my stomach. It’s not just small children, I had a case of a sixteen year old boy who was thought to be a runaway but had been murdered. There was nothing I could have done because his death happened before we were told he was missing. The case will haunt me forever. His mother and I hug when we see each other. Her sadness reminds me that runaways are always in danger.
I have attended incredible trainings offered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). They prepare me for the worst possible scenarios. I have our town’s sex offender’s addresses pinned on a map so I know who the biggest danger is in the area of a missing child. One hour, a one-mile radius, time is not on our side and the clock continues ticking. No matter how prepared I think I am, I know it may not be enough.
Non-family abductions are rare but it’s every parent’s nightmare and mine too. I worried about my own children but I’m more aware of the monsters in our world now. I share my fear with my grown children so they will be even more vigilant when it comes to my grandkids.
The 911 call for a missing one year old named Mickey came in at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was made by his six-year-old brother. I could hear the apprehension in the dispatcher’s voice. The radio transmission caused me instant anxiety. I immediately asked for a physical description and the clothing he was last seen wearing. I was told the description was fuzzy because of the age of the brother making the report but Mickey was last seen wearing green. The boys had been left home alone.
As I drove to the house, I looked up and down streets I passed hoping I would see the young child wandering along. I realized I was nearing a large pond where the local residents enjoy fishing as I pulled into the driveway. Even more dread filled me. I requested dispatch call in extra officers from our department or the county deputies. We help each other out in these situations.
The first thing you always do is search the premises inside and out. The front door was closed and I knocked announcing who I was. My heart broke at the sight of a small red faced boy sobbing his heart out. He looked through the curtained window and then let the cloth fall back into place as he opened the front door. My arms went around him and I felt his trembling. “What’s your name honey?”
“Okay Brandt, tell me when you last saw Mickey.”
“He he was in the bed bedroom and he’s gggone.”
He took a long shaky breath and then continued with the words I didn’t want to hear. “He he likes the water and he might be in the the the pond.” This is when additional terror gripped me. I could hear sirens as several squad cars pulled up in front of the house. Two deputies arrived. I didn’t care about searching the house regardless of what my training dictated. They needed to get to the pond.
The deputies sprinted up the walkway. It was my call I was in charge. “It’s possible he’s in the pond.” I didn’t get any more words out as the two of them took off. The pond was about three hundred yards away.
I had my arms around Brandt and noticed a red compact car moving fast in our direction. It pulled into the driveway and the boys’ mother jumped out and ran the short distance to where we were standing. She immediately pulled her son into her arms. The look on her face was that of a terrified parent. She was gazing at Brandt with relief but the fear was still there. I wasn’t thinking about the fact she left a one year old at home alone with a six year old. It wasn’t the time or place. I was only thinking of Mickey.
“Brandt called the police because Mickey is missing. I’m sorry but he thinks he might be at the pond. The deputies are there now. I haven’t had a chance to search the house and that’s where I need to start.”
I’ve seen quite a few reactions when people hear horrible news. Brandt’s mother jerked him away from her and looked him in the eye. Her voice was stressed, “Mickey is missing?”
“Yyyes. I can’t find him.”
“And you called the police?”
I was getting angry at this woman’s response, she was terrifying Brandt. “We need to search the house first and I would like your help.” My voice was direct with a no nonsense air.
She gazed at me with an absolutely stunned look, “All this for a turtle.”
Thankfully dispatch took the brunt of the jokes for the mix up. The deputies heard the dispatched call go out but were further away than me so I was first to arrive. They told me they would have reacted as I did (at least this is what they said to my face). We average two missing youths per year. All but my sixteen year old were found safe and sound. In every one of these cases the parents wait until they call all their child’s friends and search around the neighborhood. Every minute counts. I would rather be notified immediately and find out grandpa picked up the child than encounter the worst case scenario.
To end this post on a lighter note, I stayed and helped Brandt find his missing pet. His mother was embarrassed but she joined in the search. It was actually Brandt who located Mickey. Before I left I gave my standard child lecture about what 911 is for. A happy smiling face looked back at me with Mickey in his arms wearing green.