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.