Trudy Appleby…missing 22 years.

Another year has come and gone, and yet again, I am writing about Trudy Appleby.

Trudy Appleby was my neighbor girl.  She was bright, energetic, full of love, light, hope and happiness.  She was a regular in our house, and any given day you could find her skipping down the road to come visit.  The last time we saw Trudy was the evening of August 20th, 1996.  As she left, she said she would call my daughter the next morning and would see us all the next day.  That never happened.

Trudy Appleby went missing the morning of August 21st, 1996.  A neighbor saw her leaving the driveway in a grey car being driven by a white male, perhaps in his 20’s, with long, dark, wavy hair and wearing a ball cap.   She never returned home.

Missing flyers were printed and passed out everywhere anyone could think of.  Billboards of her missing flyer were put up along roads and highways.  We hoped she would be found within hours, then the hours turned to days, the days turned to weeks, the weeks turned to months, the months turned to years, and the years turned to decades.  It has been over 2 decades since Trudy disappeared without a trace…not a trace.  We all know little girls don’t go *poof* into thin air.

We are going on 22 years now that Trudy has been missing.  22 years of loved ones not knowing where she is, or who she was with.  22 years of searching for her, hoping she would come home, hoping she was alive and well, but thinking it was/is a good possibility that she may not be alive.  We all simply do not know what happened to her and where she is.  The not knowing…that’s awful.

Last year, the Moline Police Department released a name of a “person of interest” in the case.  It seems a witness finally came forward and stated she was seen later the morning of her disappearance in a car with a William “Ed” Smith in a neighborhood on Campbell’s Island.   Unfortunately, that witness did not have any other information to offer.  It took the witness 21 years to speak up about that.  Why wait so long?

Someone out there knows something.  Maybe more than one person knows.  Whoever was responsible for her disappearance had to have told someone what happened to her, and what was done with her.  Trudy was 11 years old.  She was someone’s daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, friend.  She was a bright light in the darkness.  Her innocence was stolen, and our bright light has been snuffed out for the last 22 years.  Someone knows something, and you know who you are.  Yet you choose to harbor this terrible secret…and for what?  Who are you trying to protect?  It’s time to tell what you know…We want to bring our girl home.  Do the right thing for once in your life.  What if this were one of your loved ones?  Don’t think it can’t happen to one of your loved ones…it can.  It happened to one of mine.  It’s time to bring Trudy Appleby home.   Little girls don’t go *poof* into thin air.

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What happened to Trudy Appleby? Missing from Moline, IL since August 21st 1996

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?

Trudy Appleby: Little Girl Gone: 20 years

We are quickly approaching the 20 year anniversary of the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.  Trudy Appleby went missing from her home in Moline, IL on August 21st 1996.  She was last seen that morning leaving her driveway in a grey/silver car.  The driver appeared to be a male, in his 20’s with dark, curly hair and a baseball cap.  This was in the area of 41st St and 21st Ave in Moline, IL.  She has never been seen or heard from since.  Those are the facts in a nutshell.  Now, it’s about to get a bit more personal.

Trudy Appleby is not just a name or a statistic.  Trudy Appleby was a real little girl, who at the time of her disappearance was 11 years old, and just 2 weeks shy of turning 12.

Trudy had a family, and lots of friends.  She was my neighbor, and spent a lot of time at my house.  I first met Trudy sometime after we moved into this neighborhood.  She was outside in my yard one day, and I opened the door and she said “Hi, my name’s Trudy…you got any kids?”.  The rest was history.   She became fast friends with my oldest daughter, and was over to the house quite often.  Trudy was a little spitfire of a girl.  She was outgoing, friendly, loving, and very bright.

I last saw Trudy on August 20th, 1996, when she was over at the house.  It was a usual Trudy visit, complete with rollerblading out front, eating hot dogs, talking about the upcoming school year and vacations.  My daughter walked her home about 8 pm as usual.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would be the last time we were to see Trudy Appleby.  But, the next morning, everything changed.

I got a call at work, and life as we knew it in this quiet, safe little neighborhood had changed forever.  We had a missing child.  Trudy was gone.  Hours turned into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into decades.  We passed out hundreds and hundreds of flyers, we searched everywhere, kept our eyes and ears open, hoping for any bit of news, or a phone call, or to see her skipping down the road.  We watched our children much more closely, afraid to even let them play out in the yard by themselves.

I have played the evening of August 20th, 1996 in my head over and over during the past 20 years, trying to recall anything out of the ordinary.   For instance, was there a strange vehicle in the neighborhood?  Did Trudy say anything about seeing a stranger?  But, there was nothing out of the ordinary about that evening.

What happened to Trudy?  We do not know.  Her family doesn’t know, her friends don’t know, and this neighborhood does not know.  Someone knows, though.  That someone needs to come forward and make that call.  Make an anonymous call if necessary.  Tell the authorities what happened to Trudy Appleby.  20 years of not knowing is awful.  It’s worse than awful.  It’s time to bring Trudy home, don’t you think?

Don’t think it can’t happen to someone you know.  Don’t think it can’t happen in your neighborhood.  It happened in mine. trudy flyer