August 21st, 1996 a young girl named Trudy Appleby went missing from her home in Moline, IL. She was last seen leaving her driveway in a grey/silver car with a male driver in his early 20’s with dark curly hair and a ball cap. She was 11 years old. She has never been seen or heard from since. Trudy Appleby was my neighbor girl. She was like one of my own kids. We lived in a good neighborhood, a safe neighborhood.
Trudy Appleby’s mother never gave up looking for her daughter. She always held out hope that soon we would find her. But, Trudy’s mother was worried that people would forget about her if this drug on a long time. I promised Trudy’s mother that I would do my best to not let folks forget about her if it came to that.
Well, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years and the years into decades. Trudy’s mother died in 2014 in a tragic accident never knowing what happened to her only child.
There have been leads and rumors abound since that fateful day in 1996, when a little girl seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Recently, in August of this year, shortly before the 21st anniversary of her disappearance, a suspect was publicly named by the Moline Police Department. The suspect is William “Ed” Smith, now deceased, formerly of East Moline, (Campbell’s Island) A witness came forward to place Trudy with the suspect on the day she disappeared.
In October of this year, a search was made on Campbell’s Island after cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains. This was after another tip to the police. While no human remains were found, some items were excavated and sent for processing. Nothing has been made public about the findings at this time.
Trudy left her home with someone she knew, and met a terrible fate, never to return home.
Someone out there knows what happened to this little girl, and someone out there still knows where she is. It is highly likely that she is no longer alive, and was buried somewhere by the perpetrators. Someone knows what happened to her and someone knows where she is. Her family, friends and everyone who has so diligently worked on this case for the last 21 years need to know where she can be found so we can lay her to rest.
Someone once commented that they were tired of hearing me talk about Trudy….she stated “This isn’t about YOU.” No, it isn’t….it never has been. It is about an 11 year old girl who never got a chance to be a little girl, or grow into an adult. It is about a mother who died never knowing what happened to her only child. It is about a family and friends who have spent the last 21 years not knowing where she is, not knowing what happened to her. It is about justice for Trudy Appleby. It is about not letting anyone forget about her, and I will not stop talking about her until she is found. Justice for Trudy!
I dreamed I was at my old high school. I was attending classes that I had already attended 40 years prior, so I thought to myself “Why am I reliving high school? I have already done this, so I believe I will just go home.”
So, as I am leaving to go find the bus (because that is how we got around in high school), I hear the rumble of motorcycles. They were antique and unusual motorcycles, some with sidecars, and they were parading through the high school grounds.
I get to the corner where we used to catch the bus, only to find that the bus schedule had changed from 40 years prior, so I decide to walk home. As I am walking, I notice someone is following me so I cross the street. This person follows me all the way home. It just so happens home, in this case, is the home I grew up in, which is a 45 minute walk from the high school.
On the way, in the old neighborhood, I come across a giant snake on a sidewalk. I tell the girl following me to back off, because this snake is huge. The snake comes toward me, and I grab a stick and sling it into the street where it meets an untimely fate underneath the wheels of a car. Just as I think we are safe from the snake, this creature appears out of nowhere and firmly clamps down on my purse. I reach inside the creature’s mouth and grab my purse. When I do that, it shrivels up into what looks like a pile of leaves.
Finally, I make it to my childhood home, (which in real life no longer exists, and has been replaced by a Walgreens), and am thrilled to see it is still standing. Inside the garage I find my brother, who is heading up a garage sale, and trying to adopt out a litter of puppies.
I did manage to lose the girl who was following me.
Not long ago, I dreamed there were about 15 people squatting in the vacant house behind my back yard. About 5 or 6 of those people were inside my yard, drinking beer and having a bonfire. Of course, I promptly kicked them out of my yard. They all retreated to the empty house, and were partying and dancing in the windows and were tearing down all the drapes. They had thrown all their shoes on top of the roof. And they kept jumping the fence to get back into my yard. I immediately called the police, and the dispatcher said “Oh, I have never had a call like this before, so I will have to turn this over to the department that fills out paperwork…please hold.”
So, this past week has been interesting. It started with me puppysitting a litter of puppies for a couple of weeks. They are possibly THE cutest little puppies EVER. They are at the 4 week mark today, and so momma is spending a little less time with them, and I am spending a little more time. I change a lot of puppy pads (they do pretty good with those), and I get my ankles licked and chewed on quite a bit, but hey, it’s worth it because right now they are so much fun! After a stressful 10 hour day at work, they will put you in a good mood quickly. (Although I would probably not do this full time. lol )
It ended with seeing a couple of folks at the grocery store. While at HyVee I spied a couple down the other end of the produce section. I said “Oh, that looks like Mr and Mrs White…” And as I watched them walk, I thought to myself, “Oh, they are hunched over a bit….maybe it’s not them.” First of all, let me explain who Mr and Mrs White are. They are the parents of my first high school boyfriend. (My only high school boyfriend….as I was NOT a hot commodity with the boys back then.) They have always been 2 of my favorite people.
Lo and behold, as I am ready to walk out the door, here comes Mr White, and he smiles and says “I know you, but can’t remember your name.” I remind him and he says “Oh, feel free to stop by the house to visit anytime you are in the neighborhood.” Then I see his lovely bride, and she smiles and gives me a hug and says to her friend “This is Eric’s very first girlfriend from back in the day. She’s always been a sweet and lovely girl.” We run into each other off and on while out and about, and they always make time for conversation with me. They were always so kind back in high school, and 40 something years later, and they still are so kind to me. That is why they are 2 of my favorite people. So, I would say it was a fairly good week.
3 weeks from today will mark 21 years since Trudy Appleby disappeared. Trudy lived down the street from my house, and she spent a lot of time here with us. The day I met her, she was jumping in my yard. We had recently moved into this neighborhood. I opened the door, and she said “My name’s Trudy, you got any kids?” The rest was history. August 20th, 1996 was the last time she was at my house, rollerblading out front, eating hot dogs and mac & cheese, talking about school and just hanging out. She said when she left “See you tomorrow!” Well, tomorrow arrived and we did not see her again. She disappeared the morning of August 21st, 1996, last seen leaving her driveway in a grey or silver car driven by a young man described as a young white male in his 20’s, with dark curly hair, wearing a ball cap. The car would have exited the neighborhood at 41st St and 21st Ave. She has never been seen or heard from since. She was 11 years old at that time. We hung hundreds of posters, the news was here, the police were all around. People searched, but nothing. We found no trace of her.
What happened to Trudy? I wish I knew. In almost 21 years, nobody has come forward with the answer to that question. Last year the police announced that they believe they may know who was responsible for Trudy’s disappearance, and that they just needed someone to come forward. Now, I have been saying this for 21 years…somewhere, someone knows exactly what happened to her. Little girls do not just go *poof* into thin air.
For crying out loud…her mother went to her grave not knowing what happened to her only child. Her grandma died not knowing what happened to her granddaughter. To whomever knows what happened (And mark my words, someone knows to this day): How would you feel if this was your child? I’m sure you have your own children by now, or perhaps even grandchildren. Imagine looking for your lost child, sibling, cousin, friend, grandchild, for almost 21 years, never knowing if he or she were safe or not, alive or not. Imagine not being able to hug someone, not being able to talk to someone….Imagine the only thing you have to remember that missing person by is a bench with his/her name on it. That is all we have of Trudy…a bench with her name on it. Do the right thing….end the nightmare. Call the authorities….Tell the truth….that is all we want. We need to bring Trudy home. What happened to Trudy Appleby?
In this dream, my family is driving to our vacation spot in the Smoky Mountains, when suddenly, we are caught in this torrential storm. It is raining so hard, and the wind is blowing so bad that I can’t see to drive, so we have to pull off the road. We pulled off near a house, and knock on the door. To our surprise, Dolly Parton answers. I said “Dolly Parton?” She said “Why, yes sugar, it’s me.” I explained our dilemma and she graciously said we could ride this awful storm out with her. She said it was gonna be a doozie of a storm, so we may want to bring in our belongings, because we may be staying a little while. And boy was she right. We stayed all day and all night. She sang songs and read stories to the kids, and got everyone hooked up in the guest bedrooms. The next morning she made bacon, eggs and grits for everybody. Then, as soon as the storm passed, we got to tour her property, and then we were on our way with free passes to DollyWood. It was a great dream.
My mom. I miss her. She was many things: Irish mother of the year, beautician, wife, nana, den mother, girl scout leader, a nurse in the army, and the list goes on and on. But, above all that, she was my mother.
We didn’t always see eye to eye, and there were times when I did not always agree with her. However, she was my mother, and she raised us all as best she could. She worked hard raising 8 children in that house with only 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. (Looking back, that house seemed so huge when we were little.)
She worked hard at home, and when needed, she worked hard outside of the home. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we always had what we needed. Did I agree with every decision she ever made, or every punishment she put forward? No. Did I agree with every “harsh” word when she would tell us like it is? No. Did I dare question any of it? No. Did I disrespect her in any way? No. Did I try to “punish” her just for revenge, or make her feel guilty for anything? No. Why? Because she was my mother…..not my buddy, not my pal. And everything she did, everything she fought for, was for the good of us kids. She wanted us to be the best adults we knew how to be. Being a mother does not come with an instruction manual. The last thing my mother and I did together was plan the Roland family reunion in 2001. A few weeks later, she was dead. Love your mother and respect her…..because some day, you may not have her around.