It Couldn’t Be True
She didn’t want it to be true. How could the canine have brought her here? This wasn’t the right place.
She looked around and started to recognize her surroundings. It seemed as if she had been there before.
But she couldn’t put her finger on why the police dog would have taken her to a place like this. She had no idea what kind of dark secrets were being hidden.
It seemed she wasn’t the only one surprised by the canine taking them to the residence. The deputy seemed just as concerned as she was.
The only issue was that he was the one that everything could be pinned on.
She couldn’t believe him. It was a small community where everyone trusted each other. What was he hiding?
Her toddler had been missing for nine days. But she was a resourceful woman who would stop at nothing to get her child back.
That’s why the first person she went to was someone who had a history with her family.
One deputy, in particular, had always watched over them. He had even joined them for dinner on occasion. But she had no idea what he was capable of.
Addie Goldman lived in a small, close-knit community in Minnesota. She worked as a waitress at a coffee shop a few blocks away from her small house.
With her salary, she couldn’t afford to buy a house and opted to rent instead.
To make matters even harder, Addie didn’t just have herself to provide for. She also had a 3-year-old daughter to look after.
Lily was Addie’s world. She couldn’t see a world without her wonderful daughter.
Things weren’t always the easiest, but it was worth it at the end of the day when she got to see her child.
As a single mother, finances were always a concern for her. The bills always piled up, and she found it hard to keep up with all of the debt. But that would be the least of her worries one day soon.
A Close Community
The town was a quiet and peaceful one. There was barely any crime, and everyone in the neighborhood knew each other.
That also meant that it was hard to keep a private life when word would spread quickly.
Rumors about one particular deputy sparked controversy a year ago when he started getting very friendly with Abbie.
Deputy James Richards was a fit, young, and very kind officer on the force.
He mostly patrolled the suburbs and made sure nobody got into trouble. This is what sparked Abbie to reach out with generosity.
One evening, she could tell that the deputy was weathered from working a full day’s shift. She decided to invite him in. But she had no idea what she had set in motion.
Inviting Him In
Deputy Richards seemed touched by the offer and graciously accepted.
He took off his wide-brim hat and stepped inside her home. He shook off the snow and joined her at the dinner table.
She made him a hot cup of coffee and made small talk. It was nice having some company for a change, but she knew it would spark rumors.
Rumors about Abbie’s relationship with the deputy soon spread around town.
She tried putting the rumors to rest. Why couldn’t she make a male friend in such a small town?
Either way, Abbie and Deputy Richards shook off the rumors and decided to stay in touch. They stayed good friends, and every time the deputy was in her neighborhood, he would stop by for a cup of coffee.
Over the next few months, Deputy Richards got close to Abbie, but he got even closer to young Lily.
She never had a father figure and was fascinated by the officer. To make things better, Richards was surprisingly good with children.
He always brought something nice to give to Lily whenever he stopped by. It started out as simple things like chocolates but gradually increased to things like stuffed animals.
Abbie was happy that Lily had a “family” friend to look up to and count on.
But she was also concerned that he could disappear at any moment – breaking his daughter’s heart.
Still, though, it was a welcome sight having him around. She welcomed the safety and company that came with his friendship. But she had no idea what he was hiding.
Their friendship changed when one day, Abbie had to ask Richards a big favor. She was stuck in a snowstorm and had to get him to pick up Lily from school for her.
It was a small thing, but things were different after that.
Lily seemed more distant from her and closer to Richards. This bothered her at first, but she was happy to see her child happy.
Tragedy About To Strike
Fast forward 12 months, and things seemed to be going well.
Abbie got a raise at the coffee shop, and Lily got along well with the other kids at kindergarten. But tragedy was about to strike.
Just like any other day, Abbie left to pick up her daughter from school. On the way, she was delayed by traffic.
Getting There Late
Abbie got to the school a little later than she would have liked.
She was an hour late but completely expected to see her daughter waiting excitedly for her. But when she got to the front gate in her car, she screamed.
She couldn’t believe what she was looking at. There was no one at the gate. She expected to see her little girl. Where was she?
No One There
Her daughter was nowhere to be seen. She rushed out of the car and looked around the front of the school. Her pride and joy were missing.
The faculty had already gone home. Did that mean that she was picked up by someone else?
She called all of the other parents frantically, asking if they’d seen her daughter when they picked up their kids. No one seemed to have an answer for her.
Calling The Sheriff’s Office
Abbie called the Sheriff’s Office and explained everything that she knew. They told her that they’d classify Lily as missing and start a search immediately.
Even Abbie knew how important the first few hours were.
After 48 hours, the chance of finding a missing child is dramatically reduced. She had to find her daughter.
A Town Wide Search
A town-wide search was conducted, and everyone took part in looking for the lost toddler.
They had to be quick. Once it hit nightfall, it would be too cold for a girl of her age to survive on her own.
Dozens of thoughts raced through Abbie’s mind. Some were hoping she’d just wandered off. Others were much worse.
The worst thought that Abbie had was that her daughter had been kidnapped.
Someone could have pretended to be a family member and taken her from the schoolyard.
Her heart raced just at the thought. “No, my Addie knows better than that!” She said to herself. But what she hadn’t considered was that maybe she was abducted by a familiar face.
The town split into large search groups and swept every street, alley, and nearby stretch of woods. They were determined to find the lost little girl.
But once night fell, they felt more limited in their capacity to search effectively.
It was dark and cold, and most people wanted to go home. Hope was being sapped from everybody, including Addie.
Addie felt grief overwhelm her as tears rolled down her cheeks. She had never felt pain as searing as this one.
She couldn’t bear the thought of losing her child. She would search through the night.
By morning, she came out of the woods covered in dirt and sweat. She hadn’t slept or eaten. She was still empty-handed. But that’s when she felt someone put their hand on her shoulder.
A Familiar Hand
She turned to see that it was Officer Richard’s hand and was accompanied by his bright, reassuring smile. “Addie, you look awful. I’m so sorry. I’ll find her.”
The words helped bolster her emotions. The deputy took her by the hand and led her to his patrol vehicle.
He took her home and helped her get cleaned up.
Richards ran a bath for her and even had breakfast and coffee laid out on the table for her.
For once, he was making her food rather than the other way around. She thanked him and wolfed down her meal.
Her mind was still burdened with worry. But she had no idea that she should have been pointing fingers at people a bit closer in her life.
A Game Changer
She didn’t know how he was staying so positive at a time like this. She felt lost and hopeless.
But then Richards let her in on a little secret. He told her that he had a game changer waiting at the station.
It was something that would make sure that she was found. She wanted to believe him. But she felt too weak.
Taking Her To The Station
Richards drove Addie to the station and showed her exactly what he was talking about when he said “game-changer.”
Before Addie knew it, she was staring at a German Shepherd. He excitedly licked Addie.
“This is our K9 officer, Bucky. He’ll be able to find her if you give him a scent.” He proudly told her.
Getting The Scent
Addie got permission to take Bucky home to get an article of clothing for him to smell.
The canine sniffed the rag and started barking. That’s how she knew he was ready.
He was a disciplined and professional dog that would do his job to help and find her. But Addie had no idea where she would end up.
Going From The School
Addie took Buck to the school, where he quickly caught her scent. She had only been missing 20 hours when they embarked on their search.
This time felt different. She felt more confident in finding her lost daughter. The canine wouldn’t let her down.
But she had no idea what kind of condition she was going to find her daughter in.
Through The Neighborhood
Buck kept his nose to the ground, and Addie followed close behind.
The concerned mother was starting to feel hopeful. He kept to the pavement and never went by the woods.
This filled Addie with relief. At least her daughter hadn’t gotten lost in the woods. It was unlikely she would have survived an ordeal like that. But then, where had she gone?
She deduced that her daughter had stuck to urban areas. Buck was taking her through alleys and streets toward suburban areas.
Her clever daughter must have tried holding out somewhere dry and warm.
But why had no one else found her yet? Addie wondered how her daughter had stayed unnoticed by the search parties before her.
A Familiar Place
Buck took a sharp left and led her toward the suburbs, away from the built-up areas.
He took her through a thicket and to a set of houses in a cul-de-sac. She felt that she knew the place. It was familiar.
She knew the route well but couldn’t place it. Then the dog took her towards a house that she definitely recognized.
Couldn’t Believe It
Addie watched in horror as the dog took her closer to a house that she most definitely knew. The reason why the surroundings felt so familiar was that she knew who lived in the house.
It was Deputy Richard’s house. He had shown her where he had lived even though she had never gone inside. Buck took her to the backyard and started barking at his shed. Then she heard a voice behind her. “What are you doing here?” She turned and saw the man she thought was her friend before screaming for help.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.