A Tale Of Two

When Chelsea King went missing, we (as I am sure all area residents did) felt dismay and concern. Bear and I (as well as MacD, Nannygoat and Mr. Vixen) were hit especially close to home. That is our field. That is our place. Yes it’s a community field, but it was our community field. My children grew up there. Learned to fly kites there, played softball there, hiked the trails with our dogs there, Gram and Gramps took Ladybug to the park there every Saturday morning for years, we celebrated birthday parties there. My first time trying roller blades was there, as was my first big fall off roller blades. The boys had epic paint ball competitions there. Lloyd proposed marriage to Nannygoat on the trails near the waterfall. This was a place of many years of joy and activities for us.

Between Bear and I, Bear was absolutely convinced Chelsea had fallen on the trails and was hurt. We know the trails and it can be rough terrain in areas. Falling into a culvert, being unable to get out seemed like the obvious and only scenario to Bear. Being young, healthy, full of faith and innocence; she was so sure. I was hopeful this was the case, but not certain. A sick feeling in my stomach, mother’s intuition maybe, or just a sense of foreboding.

When they called for volunteers on Saturday morning, despite the pouring rain, Bear and I suited up in our best hiking gear, purchased two rain ponchos and headed off. By this time, my brain was entertaining the thought that she hadn’t fallen. That she wasn’t lying somewhere hurt and waiting to be found. Bear’s faith, however, remained untouched by the length of time and the fact that 100s of deputies had been searching for days and not found her. As we fought the traffic jam near the search HQ for nearly an hour, we noticed volunteers beginning to walk away from the area instead of towards the check in point. We asked several of them what was going on. It turned out too many people had shown up for the search. All volunteers were being turned away for now. We were asked to come back the next day.

Then someone was arrested in connection to her disappearance. Details were sketchy, but for certain they had found an article of her clothing and DNA linking to convicted sex offender. My heart sank, as reality set in. Bear would not give up hope that Chelsea was out there somewhere still. Possibly hurt by this man, but fighting on and just waiting to be found. She had to work the next two days, so we were unable to join the search. But during those two days, our lives were rocked by more revelations.

That Saturday night, they released some details about the man being held in connection with the case. His picture was all over the TV. As was the address at which he was living. This wasn’t just our park, this was our neighborhood. That home was just two blocks from our home of ten years. Fishboy’s mother lives a scant few houses away, as does his aunt’s family. Nannygoat walked past there on a daily basis during the years surrounding his first conviction and she was 14 years old at the time; the same age as his victims. Less than a block from Bear’s elementary school, where she walked to and from 2nd-6th grade. On Sunday morning, Sparkles came by to help with a shed Mr. Vixen is building. He also had news. Apparently when his pregnant girlfriend had watched the news the night before, she had recognized the man being held. Her sister called her and confirmed it. She allowed me to read some of her court papers. You see, she was one of the girls who testified at his preliminary hearing 10 years ago. She was one of his victims. Thank God, not one of the victims who were so badly beaten that resulted in the crimes he was actually charged with. She was one of the “lucky” victims, if there is such a thing, who got away. Still, she was wounded emotionally and the fear of testifying during that time still haunts her to this day. So haunted, that she had never shared with anyone but her family. You see, we know her because she lived in our neighborhood. These are our kids who were hurt. It could have been my daughter, they are nearly the same age. Sadly, during those two days, one last revelation was revealed: that the suspect had lived not far from the high school where Amber Dubois had disappeared during the time she went missing nearly 13 months ago. I felt this was too much coincidence. We had just moved into this city when Amber had gone missing and I had tried to join in that search also.

The day of our search efforts dawned chilly, but clear. Bear was now certain we were looking for a body. Certain of this myself, I wondered what they would have us do? Certainly they didn’t want a bunch of volunteers tromping through possible crime scenes? We were assigned to a group, given a leader and our leader was handed a grid map of the area we were assigned to. It wasn’t any where near the park or the trails. It was actually near where Amber Dubois had disappeared some 13 months ago. Turns out we were not searching for a missing 17-year-old girl on this assignment, but for the possible remains of a 13-year-old girl who had been missing for over a year. We were instructed on what to look for (bones, clothing, shallow graves and such) and what to do when we found something. I listened with stunned disbelief. What am I doing? Can I do this? What if we find bones or a grave? Could I handle it? Could Bear handle it? Our group gathered. Leaving no stone unturned, no holes uninvestigated, and tromping down every inch of vegetation on the overgrown hillside; we searched. Fingertip to fingertip, lined in neat rows, step by slow step for three hours. At times calling to the police officer who was our leader when we found something suspicious. The officer would check what we found. If it warranted further investigation, we tied an orange flag at the area. Bear and I had used up all six of our flags. And then someone’s phone rang. And then another. They had found Chelsea’s body. It was unconfirmed, but we were headed back to search HQ. As hundreds of volunteers milled around, drinking donated water and eating donated food, we waited for word. After a time, quietly, a lead volunteer went from small group to small group. He laid his hands lightly on our backs and stated it was confirmed. We held each other and wept. For her parents, for Chelsea and for our community. We were interviewed by the news. Bear was asked if she knew Chelsea and said no. And then she told him why we had come: That we had to come and that if she was missing she knew her parents would need help. Later that evening, when we saw our snippets played out on the news about how close-knit our community is (me) and Bear’s statements about being there for a stranger’s family who needed help, we cried again.

During the week we watched as our community reeled from the discovery. As news crews filmed in front of our old neighbor’s homes and in front of trail heads where we walked daily. One particularly enraged neighbor was filmed angrily screaming at two boys who painted over some graffiti that was painted on the suspect’s parent’s home. Although I understood his rage (fueled by fear for his children, I am sure); I commended those boys for what they did. No child in the area needed to see that kind of stuff. Parent’s were probably having a hard enough time explaining what was going on to their children. When they replayed that newscast later when everyone was home from work, I found out that the angry, screaming man is Fishboy’s uncle. The threads of this community are inexorably tied into my family.

This past Sunday, as we were decorating for RolyPoly’s baby shower breaking news came on. As we switched to the news channel they announced the remains of Amber Dubois had been found. Bear and I sat on the couch, arms around each other praying out loud that we honestly hoped it wasn’t in the area we had searched. Where we had hung our orange flags. Neither of us thought we could handle that. It wasn’t, but we held each other again. Bear whispered in my ear as I cried for the parents, that she was still here. And I thanked God for that, but as I looked in her eyes I saw it. The loss of her innocence. Gone was that youthful naivete, replaced with a dawning knowledge that her world was not the place she had believed it was.

I am not, in any way, trying to take attention away from the actual victims here: those girls who were abused and beaten; the two girls who’s young lives were taken from them too soon; those families whose lives are forever altered by the loss of a loved one in such a horrific and tragic way. But whoever did this, didn’t just victimize them. They victimized an entire community. They victimized my family too. Our hearts were abused and beaten by the death of these girls. Our memories of a place we considered safe and filled with joy, are now tarnished forever with the stains of the blood of innocence. Our grief and pain is not as great as theirs, but it exists just the same. And after the rage subsides, we will find a way to change things. Change something or anything. Some how, some way we will find a way to help those leading us to make a change that might save lives some day. That is our promise to Chelsea and Amber. And to our community.

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17 Comments

  1. I cried reading this…so sad. For everyone.
    .-= jenn´s last blog ..Let The Sunshine In! =-.

  2. *hugs hugs hugs* I hope that man dies a horrible painful death. It breaks my heart when the justice systems fails people so desperately. That man should have been locked up forever. Maybe it’s wrong but I don’t believe that redemption is really possible for people like that, and I think you should lock them away forever to keep the rest of us safe.

    It’s awful that Bear had her innocence shattered like that, but try to remember that it might very well save her life one day. She may realize that the person who wants her to follow them because they say they need help might not actually need help. I’m not saying we should be so jaded that we can’t help people who need help, but we can be cautious. We can call 911 for someone from our cellphone instead of following them somewhere secluded.

    It’s terrible to say it, but this world is FULL of terrible people who want to hurt us. It’s full of good people too, but it’s better to mistrust someone at first than to let ourselves be taken advantage of and hurt by someone who intends evil. This is easy for me to say of course…but I have to admit that I’m one of the most gullible people in the universe. I want to believe that people are fundamentally good, and I have to remind myself over and over that that’s not always the case.

  3. Yes, Lesley, there is an entire additional post being written in my head about sex offenders and their recidivism rates. Also, from a personal and factual point, about how then tend to get more violent with each act. I know personally. I have a lot of thoughts about microchipping and no parole and things of that nature, but I am saving those for when I am more informed, so it’s not just a rant by a sexual abuse survivor!

  4. I’m overwhelmingly sorry. For those girls, for their parents, for their community and for you guys as well. There just aren’t words to cover how unfair this is.

  5. I can’t even imagine how one deals with this kind of tragedy and how one lives comfortably knowing the killer lives close to home. How good for you and Bear to serve your community in this way and the parents of the victims. I wish they would lock these people up for ever. You always always hear the stories that they were just released and this time they murdered someone…
    Praying for comfort for the parents, you and Bear and the whole community…
    .-= ellen b´s last blog ..When Irish Eyes Are Smiling… =-.

  6. This was hard to read. I wrote about Amber and still having hope. She was(is) the niece of a dear friend. We met her uncle at a function to raise money for her search last year. I didn’t realize till she was found that I still believed she was alive….sigh…

    This has been a tough month.
    .-= Katie @ Why Bother?´s last blog ..El Natural…Avalon and Alba Organics =-.

  7. I’m so sorry that you both had to go through that – it is so angering to see what is happening to our community. Several San Diego bloggers I know have talked about the toll this is taking on their own lives (and the lives of their children)…I really hope that all the discussion in the community and in social media outlets will make a change for the better in the legal system.
    .-= Chelsea @ Someday I’ll Learn´s last blog ..I’m FAMOUS!!!! =-.

  8. Beautiful post! I am in tears, as I have been many times lately by this story. I’ve been stopped in my tracks trying to wrap my head around how someone could actually do something like this, not just once, but multiple times. I commend you for going out there to help with the search efforts. It is going to be very painful for our entire city for awhile, and I really can’t pray hard enough for the parents of those precious little girls.
    .-= Mama Mary´s last blog ..how wayne brady and "the secret" conspired to make me a stay at home mom – part 2 =-.

  9. What a sad horrible thing to happen to a community, and of course to the girls. I praise your family, the community, and Bear for being so strong and determined to find those girls, helping and the search, and giving their families some peace. That takes true heart.

    — Last post: A Pink Nightmare

  10. Such a heartbreaking thing to have happen at any time, any place, but when it is literally in your territory it makes these things so much harder. I am so sorry for everyone.
    .-= Jude´s last blog ..Monday Is My Last Day With Entrecard =-.

  11. It is so sad that the world has to deal with these scenarios. I am praying for those families that God may help them cope.

  12. I felt very sad when I heard of the news too Vixen, and to think the trail is the same trail I would take sometimes all by myself, close to community park and where I can be safe. My heart sank learning what happened, and the coincidence with Amber’s disappearance was so disheartening. Our prayers for the family of Chelsea and Amber, and for the world to somehow get less of this kind of crime.
    .-= betchai´s last blog ..Fun Friday: Ubehebe Crater =-.

  13. Cara

    Love, V. I have no words.

  14. I cried reading this. I really don’t know how to put my thoughts into words. So sad. You know what if someone else’s child was missing I would have done the same. I would have wanted to help search. Makes you want to hug your kids even tighter and be thankful for their safety.

  15. Lin

    The person who did this took away a lot from everyone–not just the girls and their families. He took away innocence, safety and security. He took away the notion that your neighborhood is safe and that you children can walk around and enjoy their lives without having theirs threatened. I liken this story to 911–the day the terrorists changed all of our lives forever. And I hate them for that.

    I pray that your community can heal at some point, that this person will be put away forever, and you can breathe easy again someday. Someday.

  16. Sue

    I’ve been watching this on the news. That must be scary when it happens so close to home.

    P.S. On a total off note – just wanted to let you know I received the Target giveaway stuff yesterday. Thank you :)
    .-= Sue´s last blog ..Book Review & Giveaway: "Three Cups" =-.

  17. That was an extremely emotional read. It’s so sad.
    .-= Maria @ Conversations with Moms´s last blog ..The Email I read too late =-.

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