The Patriot Ledger
May 11, 2013
Never Give Up on the Missing
Many people look at the three women in Cleveland freed this week after being kidnapped separately a decade ago and call it a tragic story. They are correct, as evidence of sexual abuse, secret rooms and ropes and chains comes to light.
But this is also a story of hope. It gives hope to the family of Debra Melo of Taunton, who disappeared after a fight with her husband in 2000. It gives hope to the family of Jennifer Fay of Brock-ton, who was last seen in 1989 - without a word since. It gives hope to the family of Maura Murray of Hanson, whose car was found in New Hampshire in 2004. No trace of Murray has ever been found.
Most children who are missing more than a few days or weeks are not found alive. They either never return or their bodies are eventually found. It happens in case after case. But every once in a while, a miracle occurs.
Melo's sister, Patty DeMoura of Taunton, said Tuesday that her heart was pounding when she first heard news reports of three missing women being found alive. She hoped for a moment that one of them was her sister.
"We don't have any final answer," said DeMoura. "You always have a string of hope that maybe she is out there. You don't know a hundred percent."
In Cleveland, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were set free Monday when a neighbor heard Berry screaming for help and police found not only Berry, but the other two women in the house of suspect Ariel Castro.
This reminds us of the case of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped in 1991 at age 11 in California and, remarkably, found safe 18 years later, living with the couple who held her prisoner. She walked out of their home with two children fathered by kidnapper Phillip Garrido, much as Berry was found with a young child police believe may have been fathered by Castro or one of his brothers.
Think also of Elizabeth Smart, snatched from her Utah bedroom at age 14 in 2002. A massive search turned up nothing and, as months went by, many people must have thought their hopes and prayers wouldn't come true. But the next year, Smart was found wandering the streets with the couple holding her and she was reunited with her family.
It might take a miracle to find Melo, Fay or Murray, dead or alive. But it does happen. Berry's mother died in 2006 believing her daughter was dead. It is tragic that mother and daughter never saw each other again. But it's extraordinary that Berry, DeJesus and Knight have been reunited with their loved ones after a decade of doubt.