“Have you seen my mom?”
“No, She did not make it to the Easter Egg Drop on Saturday. I have been working all day Sunday, so I have not called around. Did you try Matt? or your grandpa?”
“NO, I am just asking you because you usually hear from her. someone told me her car was in a wreck and in the ditch two towns over, but I don’t see her car where they said it was.” a long pause “you have not heard from her?“
“I wonder if she called Matt, she usually calls him to get a hold of Scott when she misses his visit.”
” I am worried she never misses his visits, and she bought him his Easter surprises. I am going to call grandpa.”
My heart sinks, my mind races, and I am very calm—the calm before the storm. My spirit is unmoved, quiet.
RING RING… I wait before I answer… I read the caller ID, and it was Scott’s grandfather.
“You have not seen Rose? She never came for a visit?” “No,” I say as I think over the day and the time- it is now Monday at 6 pm. I take a breath as grandpa speaks: ” she bought him some pants and an Easter basket with candy; she would not have missed that visit.”
“I tried to call her, and it only went to voice mail. Scott called multiple times with no response. I think Matt called looking for her because Scott was upset, and this is unlike her.”
More phone calls with the same conversations
I wait and think back over our years together and wonder what happened.
Rose loved Scott the second he was in her arms. She was determined to do it right, get things in order for him. She messed up with Alice, but this was going to be different.
She put a sign on the door “no smoking” once he was in the apartment. She carved out room in her closet for his little outfits. In the corner of her bedroom, he had his crib, blankets, mobile, and changing table. Matt and Pop made a toy box out of antique wood with his name engraved on the top. The toy box sat proudly displayed in the living room with toys waiting to be played with once he could.
When he was six weeks old, she went to work and called to check on him during lunch and breaks. She cried when he cried, agonized over not being able to breastfeed, and panicked when his umbilical cord turned brown. She met someone who helped her stay clean; however, they drank on the weekends. They enjoyed barbeques and friends.
For his third Christmas, she bought him a Lighten Mcqueen bike. She knocked on my door about midnight, asking for help putting it together, and “Oh yeah, if you have a big ribbon and bow for it, that would be great!” She said.
She tried and managed to move from a tiny one-bedroom for all 3 of them (Scott, Alice, and herself) to a large two-bedroom with a bonus area. She bought a washer/dryer and bedroom furniture for the family.
I moved from the apartment complex to a house near the school; she moved to a duplex around the block.
We would walk to each other’s homes and check-in to see how things were going. Rose would stop for tea, help with yard work, or chat. She bought a sewing machine and made Scott a quilt with his favorite colors.
She struggled along the way, but she managed to get herself up each time. She was a fighter until there was no fight left.
Where did it begin to turn? I ponder the events and can see the timeline. I understand timelines because I look for them in all my clients; however, she was not a client.
It went terrible when Tony left, they had built a family, and she struggled to stay happy. The feeling of discontent is not unusual for someone who does not understand what happiness is. He proposed marriage. She never had a long-term relationship, and this relationship was almost over three years long and getting serious.
Rose sabotaged it all after Tony left. She struggled with money, so she rented out a bedroom. Over the next few months, She met other men, and they moved in and out again. Eventually, the last guy who came into her life was a drug dealer, and she was hooked again. Everything spiraled. Scott was learning to throw knives, the boyfriend hit him, and a dog attacked him. Scott said he was scared all the time, he made knives to protect himself from the bad men, and he was hungry. Matt was done with the situation and began custody proceedings.
She left the duplex around the block from my house and into the country. She called often asking me to help with things around the house, check on Scott when he was sick, and pick him up for church. Things went from bad to worse, and they never got better. She became ill, lost the custody battle, and now has these supervised visits. Visits she has not missed in four years.
Something was wrong and would never be right again.
The phone rings, and text messages start to beep. People are calling to ask if I have seen Rose. I tell them the same thing I said at the beginning of this crazy search.
No, I have not seen her, I do not know where she is, and finally, she missed her visit.
Sadness sweeps over me as I know she has been missing three days. We only know that she bought Scott his gifts, her car was wrecked but is now missing, and she messaged she was excited to have the Easter visit.
Three days is a long time for a person to be missing. This was out of character for her.
She was the mom who went to the mother and son dance, who came to Christmas at my house during her custody battle, making sure Scott received everything he wanted from Santa. The mother put notes in his lunch and drew him pictures during her time away from him. She called and left messages, but this time there were no messages, no pictures, and no Easter gift.
She was missing, and we had to find her. The search began with phone calls, Facebook, and canvassing. Her car was impounded, and the gifts she bought Scott were stolen from her car with her wallet and ID. Still, she was not around, and no one had seen her.
Backtracking via messages and phone calls, the last time she was seen was on Friday. On Thursday, she messaged to say she planned to be at the Easter event.
It is Tuesday, with more phone calls and unpleasant conversations regarding her recent activities. The family never wants to know or be confronted with the truth. They wanted to believe she was doing great and better, but Matt and I knew the truth. We suggested jails and hospitals. We were all incorrect.
It is Wednesday, and Scott has another visit. This visit is to the park. We go, but she is not there. We walk back to my house. Scott is crying.
We finally tell him his mother is missing.
Someone mentions Paul, but her family does not know who he is or where he lives. We do; he has been to our home. He worked on my house. My thought is, no, it can’t be him. Why would she be with him? They had a fight a year ago and she never mentioned she was with him. I go to his house and knock on the door. Scott is in the car waiting to hear if Paul has seen his mother. Waiting on the porch, I look at Scott and walk back to the car.
We drive off to look for his mom but come back to Paul’s house for one more look. I hear someone in the house, and they peek out the window but run to the back of the house. For a minute, I wait and begin to walk toward the back of the house. Something in me stops and thinks he
has a chainsaw and cuts trees for a living. My heart sinks as I look at Scott in the car waiting. I go to the car and tell him no one is home.
Later that evening, my neighbor says she thinks she has seen Rose by the school and will drive us there to check it out. When we get to the school, the police sit across from Paul’s house. I slowly walk to the police car; my breath stops as my heart beats faster. I say slowly: ” I am looking for a woman who has been missing five days and…” before I get it out, someone jumps out of the car yelling my name. She explained that Rose was in Paul’s backyard, wrapped in a tarp covered in leaves and debris. They can not do anything or identify it is her until a warrant is issued and SWAT arrives.
Later that night, we are told it is her. Grandpa identifies her.
Beaten, stabbed three times, the fatal stab in the lungs; she was stuffed in a sleeping bag and thrown outside for five days covered in yard trash until the police could take her body to the morgue.
We found Rose
Scott and Alice’s mother did not leave them; she was Murdered.
Paul had killed her Friday night, so she never received Scott’s messages.
Paul drove her car two towns over and ran it off the road to look like she had been in an accident.
Paul put her ID in the front seat so people would know who the car belonged to Rose.
Paul went to the store and made a phone call for someone to pick him up.
Paul hid in the house until SWAT broke the window and fired shots.
Paul tried to kill himself to no avail.
Paul sits in jail, waiting for trial.
Rose is dead, and the family celebrates her life. Cremated, Scott never realized his mother’s body was there; all he saw were beautiful pictures of their life, his mother, the person he loved with all his heart even when life was rough, and their visits were ugly. Rose was his mother, and no one deserved what happened to her.
Our takeaway is: We found Rose before Paul disposed of her body, and Scott knows his mother loved him and planned on meeting on his heartbreaking Easter visit. something I stress with clients is the idea of patterns, themes, and traditions. Every person has them in their life. Rose never missed a visit. Her pattern was set and had been set for years. When this happened it was out of character for her. What patterns do you see in your loved ones? They can be healthy or unhealthy, but these patterns will indicate change, problems, and concerns that need to be addressed.
How do we move on from here?
Unexpected death or trauma is horrific and can cause additional emotions to stir in a person. The denial process or stage of grief may last longer. Anger may be the first stage. You may pass bargaining because you did not have anything to bargain with. Feeling the loss is harder as you navigate the hate, anger, and unbelief of what happened. This is traumatic grief- trauma and grief combined.
My grandson did not know his mother was killed, he only knew she was missing. He went through the bargaining stage first as he would say, “If I did not put our visits on pause she would not have left.” and “I should not have told her I wanted to pause our visits”. He would also add, “If I did not choose the library for our visits she would have been happier and not missed this visit.”
At this point we begin to look at the service and what this death means to us- The grieving process begins, but not a true type of grief but traumatic grief so this process begins with unbelief and anger for most people- this is true for us.