I’m so happy for the family of Jayce Duggard. What an overwhelming miracle that she and her daughters have been returned to their real families. Whenever a case like this happens, though, I’m reminded of a friend whose brother went out for a bikeride in 1975 and never came back. This happened about three counties over, still in the middle of nowhere.
My friend was about 12 at the time and her brother 10. At that time, we all thought our little rural communities were safe. Child abductions probably happened, but we never heard about them. That all changed on Memorial Day Weekend in 1975. Young Jason (not his real name) rode his bike down to the convenience store like he did almost everyday. And it was as though he rode straight off the Earth. Despite searches and the involvement of the FBI, no sign of Jason was every found.
I happened to meet up with Jason’s sister after not seeing her for many years. We were both waiting in an emergency room, of all places. We had family members undergoing surgery. I didn’t bring up her brother, but I did ask about her parents. Then, she seemed to just unload a lifetime of hell. She started crying and said her parents never gave up. Untl the day they died both of them waited for Jason to come home. She even told of a legal fight they had waged when the telephone company changed the area code. Her parents were the only people in the whole Eastern half of the state to keep that original 615 area code through a series of changes. (Now, that area code only belongs to Nashville.) She told me of all the prank phone calls they got over the years, and the difficulty sorting any leads from all the pranks. She told me how the family’s vacations were planned around chasing leads. As her mother aged, she often walked up to complete strangers with no resemblance whatsoever, trying to convince them they were Jason.
At the time we met up, Elizabeth Smart had just been recovered. She said she was so glad her parents didn’t live to see this, as it would just give them what she was sure was false hope. She told me she believes Jason is dead. Knowing what we know now about pedophiles, she thinks he was probably lured into a car by a pedophile, used for a few hours, then killed and dumped in one of the area’s lakes and rivers. At that time, police didn’t become involve until 48 hours or even 7 days. She thinks the big search for her brother came too late.
And the relative she was waiting on? Her son who had been injured in a skateboarding accident. Several bones in his lake had to be reset. His name? Jason (named in honor of his missing uncle)