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.

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’s Mom

Wednesday, they laid someone to rest. Her name is Brenda. I knew her as Brenda, but I also knew her as Trudy’s mom. The rest of the people here know of her as the mother of Trudy Appleby, the Moline girl who went missing 18 years ago. Brenda was a very softspoken, sweet person and Trudy was her only child. She spent the last 18 years of her life looking for her daughter…never knowing where she was, or what happened to her, but never completely giving up the hope that Trudy is out there somewhere still, and that we would one day find her. Brenda met with a tragic fate, and left this Earth very unexpectedly, as she was hit by someone driving under the influence. She passed never knowing the truth about what happened to her daughter, and her family is now dealing with another unexpected, sudden loss. I know, that out there somewhere is someone who knows the truth about what happened to our little Trudy 18 years ago. That someone has chosen not to come forward as of yet, and in turn caused 18 years of the pain of not knowing. Now a mother has passed, never to have found her answer to her question of where her daughter is. What will it take for that someone to come forward? I don’t know how that someone sleeps at night, and quite frankly, now…I hope they don’t.