The Missing

I think I have mentioned before that I tend to get a bit obsessive about certain topics. The plane crash in the Andes is one, Everest is another, missing kids is a third.
I think it started with Steven Stayner, the American boy who was abducted and came back 7 years later.
I had a paper round at the time and so always read the front pages, and I remembere being amazed that he came back, not that I had known he was missing, I’d have been too young to hear that story, but that someone could come back after 7 years. His parents said that they bought him Xmas and birthday presents for him every year and that they were all there waiting for him in his room. I thought how cool would that be, all those presents.
Though he came back I don’t think his family ever truly recovered and Steven himself died tragically at a young age.
His brother went on to murder at least 3 women in Yosemite National Park.
I think I have read Steven Stayner’s story, cover to cover over a dozen times. I don’t know what I am looking for in it.
Now I just read the story of Elizabeth Smart, and though I now know slightly more about her ‘story’ I still don’t know what answer I am looking for. The book is very detailed about the investigation and it is truly awful what the families have to go through, never mind the paralysing grief they must feel, but the suspicion they fall under, the media speculation and intrusion, in the frenzy for headlines it seems some papers can print anything they want.
Like they did with Madeline McCann, who sadly isn’t home yet.
Even the more schmalzty stories, Deep End of the Ocean, Year of Fog, I feel compelled to read them and in many cases re read them, like if I can bury myself deep enough into my greatest fear I can somehow insulate us from it.

Aisde from growing up with The Yorkshire Ripper hanging over us, there were a number of girls who went missing,
Lesley Whittle, April Fab, Caroline Hogg, and Jeanette Tate are names that spring to mind. Jeanette Tate went missing doing her paper round, they found her bike.
This prompted my Mother to insist on coming on my round with me, jogging beside my Raleigh Honey in the early morning darkness.
The man who killed Lesley Whittle also shot and killed a sub post master in my home town.
There is a bench with his name on it there now, or there was once, haven’t been there for years.
I don’t think anyone ever found out another thing about Jeanette Tate and it must be 30 years ago.
However did the family go on?

Andrew O’Hagan wrote a terrific book called ‘ The Missing’ another I have read a dozen times, and may read a dozen more, about people who slip through the cracks, people who vanish, people who are taken.
I don’t think I am actually going anywhere with this.

4 thoughts on “The Missing

  1. Such occurrences have a morbid fascination for us all I think but more when you have kid’s yourself. I tend to watch Tom like a hawk when he’s in the house let alone outside. Even strapped in to his pushchair my mind is 7/10ths on him rather than the errand I’m running. I can’t imagine how a parent could cope if their child goes missing. Your entire life must grind to a halt.

  2. Your blog wouldn’t let me leave a comment unless I signed in with a wordpress account. I do have a wordpress account but that blog is locked. I comment on other wordpress blogs with my blogger name. I’m confused. Anyway it is reluctant blogger, if you wondered.

    My biggest fear is having one of my children go missing. I think that is worse than knowing that they are dead. I could not live a life always scanning faces hoping to find them. Awful.

  3. rb, thanks for stopping by and I’m sorry I haven’t the faintest idea why you had a problem.

    Yes ‘scanning faces’ would be an unbearable existence.
    Also, more worrying is that the few cases where a child does come back it has little to nothing to do with the police.

  4. Being from Merced CA and having known the Stayners, I can say that God was surely blessing SOMEBODY when he sent that boy to that police station with that baby, Timmy White.

    They just unveiled a statue in Steven’s honor here in Merced and I think that it is a fiitin tribute. The statue shows a 14 yr old Steven holding the hand of a 5 yr old Timmy, who is lookin up at him with gratitude and love.

    A fitting tribute.
    Check it out at:

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