Melissa knew she was in trouble after she approached the green pick-up with the man who lost his puppy. No one heard her scream when he grabbed her.
“She is wearing blue jeans, a green sweater, and pink high top shoes.” Mrs. Candis wailed.
“What color is her hair?” Detective Darcy Andreas asked the distraught woman. She hated these kinds of cases. She would much rather work a grisly homicide scene than interview parents of a missing child.
“Light brown hair and green eyes.” Dabbing at her nose with a tissue Mrs. Candis added, “I have her school picture.”
“We’ll get one of those from you in a moment. Does she usually walk alone when she comes from the school?”
“No. She and her friend Tamara walk together. Tamara lives in the house behind us. My husband was to pick her up today but he was running late.”
Detective Andreas looked to her partner, Tom Sanders, giving a slight nod. “Has she mentioned anyone she is afraid of? Anyone she’s seen around that she doesn’t know?”
“No. Nothing like that.” Mrs. Candis stood to pace. A few steps and she crumbled to the green print sofa covering her face with her hands. “My poor baby girl.”
Mr. Candis came rushing in to the room. He immediately took his wife in his arms and started patting her back, murmuring comforting words. His face was ghostly white, etched with fear. His dark brown eyes locked on Detective Andreas. “Any news on our daughter?”
“We’re still getting the facts, sir. Have you received any threatening phone calls or notes?”
“Nothing, Detective. Here or at the office. Is this a ransom kidnapping, should we be prepared?”
“At this point, the only thing we know is Melissa is missing. We have put out an amber alert and a BOLO, be on the lookout for. We will get a photo from you to give to the TV stations. We will canvas…” Detective Andreas stopped as Tom, eyes dancing with excitement, rushed to the door. He gave a quick jerky nod for her to join him.
“Excuse me a moment.” Appearing to move casually, she rushed to Tom. “What have you got Detective?”
“Tamara saw a green truck stop at the corner. She said a man and woman were in the truck and they took Melissa.”
“License plate? Descriptions?”
“Better than that. Tamara snapped this on her digital. I’ve alerted dispatch to update the bulletin.”
“Clever girl. Good photo too.”
Detective Andreas returned to the Candis’ living room. Handing the camera to them she asked, “Recognize this couple?”
The parents eagerly gazed at the image. All sound and movement stopped as Mrs. Candis looked up. Her lips quivered and she held her husband’s hand so tight her knuckles were turning white.
“Don’t honey,” he tried to warn her.
Detective Andreas was sure there was something going on here. She waited out the couple who moments before were distraught but now seemed strangely calm. Sometimes, silence can be a better motivator for answers than asking questions.
“It’s my sister and her husband. Melissa is their biological daughter. They gave her up at birth and we adopted her.”
It clicked in to place for the detectives. They raced out the door to run the plates for an address.
The green pick-up stopped long enough for Melissa to get something to eat. “I know you are frightened honey. You have no reason to trust us but we ask you to try. You see, you are our daughter. We have been looking for you for a very long time, praying you would be safe, asking for God to lead us to you.”
Melissa looked at the woman driving. She looked familiar. She turned to look at the man, staring hard in to tearful green eyes. She felt strangely comforted. There was a police car behind them and the lights started flashing. Melissa fingered the paper in her pocket. She was no longer afraid.
Detectives Darcy Andreas and Tom Sanders solved their case within a few hours. After searching cold case files, interviewing the couple from the truck, and Melissa, they returned to the Candis’ residence with appropriate paperwork.
“You are both under arrest for kidnapping, filing a false police report, and several other charges. Anything you say can…”
Handcuffs clicked. “Didn’t you see the suitcases in your car and the green note in your briefcase?” Mrs. Candis hissed at her husband while he glared her to silence.
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