Around 9:15 pm on June 26, Lindsey J. Baum, an 11-year old from the tiny town of McCleary, Washington, disappeared while walking from a friend's house to her home, only four short blocks away.
She just had an argument with her brother, but most everyone notes that she wasn't storming off mad. She didn't have the accoutrements you'd think of when thinking of a runaway -- no money, no cell phone, no change of clothes.
Some friends set out with her, so she was accompanied for a while before they peeled off to go to their own homes for dinner, or homework, a bath or shower, whatever.
Two of those four blocks are reported to be somewhat industrial -- though we are talking *rural* small town. One block away is access to a major highway.
As any child would be, Lindsey was troubled by her parents' recent divorce. Her father lives in Tennessee. This detail is the one I have to shrug off -- in my family, similar circumstances played a role in my eldest brother's decision to run away. But he was a savvy teenager, a world traveler; Lindsey just turned 11 (a grand birthday celebration surely awaits her), and only knows McCleary.
Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of her disappearance. There have been no sightings, no productive new information, and in this age of information and its technology, that is almost unheard of. Indeed, I would have thought it impossible that in the span of a year, there are no leads to proffer, no tantalizing tidbits to ponder and inspect.
I have wondered, even, what the significance might be of such a complete absence of clues. Unfortunately, to follow that path means to go crazy with notions of vast conspiracy. Fortunately, there is no lack of volunteers willing to go nuts by noting such things as the disturbing habit of such-and-such Youth Minister to be surrounded by... youth. (It only gets worse. A local park ranger, who was identified, not from some actual association with Lindsey, but by a psychic who dreamed his initials had the gall to own a supremely suspicious... boat.
I do not imply that nothing has been done -- not at all. Far from it.
There have been frequent searches, interviews and re-interviews (and amateur sleuthes have had a field day inventing all sorts of suspicious people). A substantial reward has been offered. The FBI is on the case, Interpol has been alerted, and the local Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office has worked long and hard, and will continue to do so.
Rather than mark tomorrow's anniversary by failure and lack, Lindsey's mother Melissa has helped organize an event called a Day of Hope:
McCLEARY, Wash. (CBS/AP) A "day of hope" will be observed Saturday in an Olympia park on the one-year anniversary of Lindsey Baum's disappearance.
Police are still looking for possible leads in the case and hope that they will one day be able to determine what happened to Lindsey, who was 10-years-old when she went missing on June 26, 2009 while walking home from a friend's house in McCleary, Wash.,west of Olympia.
During the observance, called "Lindsey's Day of Hope and Awareness for the Missing," balloons will be released for Lindsey and all of the other missing persons of Washington state, reports The News Tribune. It will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Olympia's Heritage Park.
Previously, police have enlisted the help of the FBI, bloodhounds, and searchers on horseback, but there have been no signs of the missing 4-foot-9-inch, 80 pound girl.
Melissa Baum, Lindsey's mother, says that her daughter was upset by the recent divorce of her parents, but says Lindsey did not have enough money to run away, nor had she ever tried to run away in the past.
After nearly a year of searching, her mother fears the worst.
The search for Lindsey continues, and authorities are offering a $25,000 reward for information regarding the young girl's whereabouts, as well as information leading to the arrest of and charges against the person or people responsible for her disappearance.
If you have any information regarding Missing Child Lindsey Baum, please call the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office at 866-915-8299.
I finished my first post about Lindsey by explaining how I'd heard of her. SecretWave101 was bothered, early on, by the scant attention being paid this dear child. Full of vim and vinegar, I vowed to follow the case, and publicize it here. I stand by that promise, even knowing now how little help this actually is.
I learned about her over at Dr. SecretWave101's blog. He notes what many of us have seen in our own communities: How legwork and media savvy are manditory to keep the faces and stories of our stolen children front and center in the public's view.
He notes other stuff, too -- having to do with the privilege of stereotype and the insidious mechanisms by which missing and exploited children receive airplay.
Research Lindsey's story and retell it on your own blog -- or where you will. You're likely more creative than I am -- the point is to disseminate, remind, encourage. Yes, and annoy, I suppose, if that should become necessary. (It's de rigueur here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé!)
To see all posts about Lindsey, click here.