We had arrived so late the night before that we didn't even notice how beautiful this tourist town on the northern California Pacific coast was until morning. Luckily, we were up early and had some time to explore the area before the event. Plus eat our third meal in a row at Denny's, which made no one happy, I may not eat eggs again on this trip.
The rally was held in the courtyard of a church with a breathtaking view, and was in honor of 2 missing persons, Kathy LaMadrid and David Neily. Kathy was 40 when she went missing from Fort Bragg on 12-17-04. Search efforts in her case have been difficult as there are many possibilities in her disappearance. Part of our morning was spent attempting to narrow the focus on the many stories and rumors that surround that day she was last seen crossing a local bridge. Hopefully today's stop will bring some renewed interest, it has already sparked some new media attention. Hopefully it will bring to light some new information. David was 69 when he disappeared from Westport on 4-14-06. He was last seen at a horse ranch owned by an individual that he had an adversarial relationship with, and neighbors have reported hearing shots fired that night. Similarities exist between his case and that of another missing man, JC Cavanaugh. There is also known animosity between JC and the property owner and he was also last seen at the same location a year prior.
Shelli LaMadrid shared some of Kathy's life and story with those present. She said "Someone important to me disappeared and it changed my life..."; "In the course of dealing with the devastation of that experience, I developed a vision...To assist any family with a missing loved one..As I stand here today I'm watching my vision come to fruition" and "Everyone-every person is some one's child. Everyone deserves a chance to come home". Shelli is now the member of a Search and Rescue team. She is like so many of us, trying to take our experience and use it to help other families. Becoming involved with missing persons organizations, volunteering, networking, trying to make this journey easier for incoming families. Trying to find some purpose for why she was thrown into this nightmare world. It was evident though that even though she is attempting to channel her pain it is still raw for her.
Ryan Neily is sure he knows what happened to his father. He spoke of his frustrations with the investigation. Of finding his father's dog locked in in his truck on that day 6 years ago, how his father would never leave his dog behind. Of knowing where his father must be but being unable to bring him home. His sister Lisa, who was unable to attend, sent a statement in which she wrote "Our goal with this rally is to get the word out about our dad..." and " ...Deserves to be found just like every other missing person. Someone knows something...It's a full time job when you are searching for a loved one who has gone missing". Reminds me so much about my experience searching for Mathew. I knew where Matt was from that first day when he did not come home. I know firsthand the frustration in knowing precisely where your missing loved one is and still not being able to get to them, to bring them home. At least in Mathew's case I was searching mainly on public property and I could continue searching as long and as many times as was needed until I got resolution. David is most likely on the property of the person responsible for his disappearance making searching impossible without a warrant. I know way too many families in this situation. Perpetrators holding onto property to ensure that their victims are never found. An older woman rose to speak about David, she had been his girlfriend in high school in the 1950's. She had travelled to make this event, it being important to her, he being important to her. It's astounding the collateral damage that occurs when someone goes missing.
On a positive note, the local Lieutenant not only attended the rally, making time to talk to all involved, but also spoke. The rally closed with prayers for resolution and a candle lighting ceremony. As always it was difficult to leave. As always we ended up staying much later than we should have. As always we remained long after packing up. As always one of us had to go over and gently pull Monica away from the families. But, as always we needed to get back on the road.