Sunday, October 24, 2010


I've always worked, even when my kids were young.
I chose to work out of my home, so what I did was hire "nannies" -- a fancy word for babysitters.
When my children were babies, I hired elderly grandmother types who would tend to them while I worked in my home office.
When the kids got older, I moved to younger, bright, students with wheels and a great sense of responsibility.

So...once... in the baby phase... it came time to hire a nanny, I chose Mary (a pseudonym) who was 50. Now in hindsight... and with years of P.I. work under my belt.... the red flags were there. She was TOO perfect. But that was then. History.
I did the usual background check,  though I wasn't a P.I. then and didn't know what I was doing. I checked her resume, her references.
She seemed perfect.

It was only after I hired her she told me THE story:
When she was a young mother,  living in Florida, she would allow her 3 year old son to play in the front fenced yard while she did her housework.
One day, she said, while she was doing the dishes, her 3 year old son disappeared.
And was never found again.

I felt a huge wash of sympathy overcome me... then confusion.... because when she told me of this loss it was without emotion.
She didn't show the pain I have seen in faces of the missing.... a pain that doesn't EVER go away.
She was always happy, upbeat, almost too perfect.
She had a daughter later and now had grandchildren, though I knew they were all in a financial struggle.
From the point of her sharing the abduction story on, I felt a visceral uneasiness replace my sympathy and stayed very close to home.
Within days of that announcement she asked me this question.
"If you were hungry and out of money and you knew someone who had an abundance of food, would you steal some of that food to feed your children?"
I told her I would ask the person for the food first.
She looked at me oddly, and said,
"What if you didn't want to ask? Or they didn't want to give it to you?"
I told her I would try to find any other another way than stealing. Though, I confessed, if my kids WERE starving and there WAS a whole lot of food around me no one would miss, I would take the food and feed my kids.
And what happened next, is so minor... compared to what families of the missing go through...
I  feel flippant, almost irreverent, posting it here.
However, this story must end so here's what happened.
I'd been collecting these "My Little Ponies" and other cool toys for the kids.
I figured one day, as adults, their kids would like them. So I had this cherished box of  the most special toys we pulled out and played with. It was an impressive collection.
One afternoon, just after I arrived home, Mary hurried out the door as soon as I arrived.
It was the first day of the work week, a new paid period.
When I went to the kitchen table, there was a resignation note.
It said something about due to the health of her daughter, she must quit.
The note had a p.s., "Keep today's pay."
And that was it. 
I called her back, her phone was disconnected.
She was gone.
And so was the box of sacred toys.
No jewelry stolen checks... nothing else... just the toys I'd been collecting for years.
I knew in my gut, she stole them for her grandchildren.
I felt the loss and betrayal deeply for a while.
They were JUST toys, yes... however... they were symbols to me.
Of faith, then betrayal.
Symbols of how little I knew about people.
And how close I came to having something real terrible happen to my kids because I hired a thief who could have done far worse.
The internet didn't exist then...  in the times I have looked since, I found no records of Mary or her child abduction.
And it's been only in recent years, my kids now adults, that I wonder if Mary's daughter was really HER birth daughter.
Maybe....she asked me the question NOT because she was about to steal my kids' toys, but because she stole her daughter from someone else.
Maybe she felt justified since someone stole her son from her.
Or maybe the whole abduction story was fabricated. Though if so, why?
I have been running in circles with this question ever since.
Every missing children leaves an inextricably altered family... and community in their wake.
What's hard for me in such cases, is imagining what the parents imagine first.
What's hardest is imagining what it must be like to be the child who is taken.
That must be one of the darkest places in the whole world.
Without the media and videos like the one above, we wouldn't know those worlds exist.


  1. Are you still looking for this Mary online? That would really bother me. Esp. if she really took that little girl. I would not give up!

  2. No. i was never able to find her after she left. I also knew she married and told me once about her difficult childbirth, so she probably didn't steal her kid. Then again, her husband died, maybe she killed him? Oh what a tangled web life weaves.