It was an unseasonably warm February morning in Indiana. Because of a scheduled snow day, two teenage girls, best friends in fact, had a wide open day in front of them. The world was theirs for the taking. How would they spend their day? Would they continue their painting project from the night before. Find other chores to help with around the house? No…it was too pretty outside for all of that. So they begged and pleaded until someone finally agreed to drive them to the only real attraction in their tiny town. A nature trail nearby with beautiful vistas and an abandoned train track – for those with the stomach to traverse its rickety rails.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably been intrigued by the story of these two angels since the day they were taken from this world back in February 2017. If it doesn’t, I’ll do my best to bring you into their world.
Libby and Abby.
And what happened?
They went for a walk.
That’s all it was. A walk. There are many questions left unanswered but what we know for sure is that they could never have known the evil that was waiting at the end of those train tracks. The theories and speculations about what brought them to that location have been ablaze for years. Were they meeting someone secretly? Did someone know they would be there? Were they simply enjoying a beautiful day with no real plans at all and someone …some evil, terrible person….interrupted their lives? No one knows. At least, not yet.
For those who are familiar with their story, you probably know that there was an arrest recently and that there may be a face to this horror. An identity that has been out of reach for enough years that we wondered if this case would ever be solved. It’s a good development. A step in the right direction. But I’m not sure that’s why I’m putting these words on “paper”.
In truth, I don’t know why I decided to come here…in this place…where no one (or very few) will probably read what I write. But I know I feel compelled to be here tonight because there’s a story to be told and I think we all need to hear it. Maybe I’ll get to the point and maybe I won’t but as my fingers traverse this keyboard, I feel sure that, at least for me and my heart, I’m here for the right reasons.
They went for a walk.
Who hasn’t? What teenage girl has not needed to get out of the house, to put it all behind them, to reconnect, to just…be. And if you’re lucky enough to have a girlfriend to walk with you, of course you would take that adventure. Honestly, at 44 years old – light years away from my youth – I still find joy in the possibilities of a simple walk. A destination unknown. Anything can be encountered on a stroll, particularly if you have a park nearby that is intended for exploration.
Endless possibilities. A beautifully colored bird that stands out against the trees that are turning grey. Overhearing a conversation about something mundane that makes you grateful that you don’t have bills to pay or hours to clock. I can’t imagine the simple excitement they must have felt. Then again, I do. Actually, I don’t imagine. I REMEMBER. When I was their age, my friend and I took a walk to a pasture nearby and tried to train a wild horse – that ended in stitches for me and a story I concocted to cover our transgressions that my mom will never let me live down. Later, I walked to a friend’s house and had my first kiss with a boy. He was far too old for me and as I look back, I think, well….something really terrible could have happened and I’m just glad I thought he tasted like a rotten Starburst and decided to go home early.
The point is, we can’t know what they might have been planning to get into that day. Maybe it was just a semi-dangerous stroll across that bridge. Maybe they thought they would run into a cute boy but any way you slice it….
They went for a walk.
And they never came back.
I was lucky. When I fell off the horse, I could run to my parents and they could take me to the hospital where the doctor made terrible jokes and then sent me home. When, as a very young girl, I was kissed by what was basically an adult, I could run into my friend’s house and hide, I was…lucky. LUCKY. I don’t remember much about that time in my life. I think I was maybe 11 or 12 and the guy was 18 or 19. And mom, if you’re reading this, just breathe…I’m ok. I’m right here. Typing this. I promise.
I suppose the point is, it could have gone either way. In THIS world, as a grown ass woman, I know that he was a predator. Maybe he didn’t have the evilest of intentions but, for sure, something was wrong with the way his brain worked. At the time, though, I am sure I thought that I must have something special if an older boy wanted to kiss me. NONE of this is to say that Libby or Abby had any designs on meeting a boy that day. I don’t know what happened out there. And even if they were intending to meet someone, it certainly wouldn’t have been the absolute DEVIL they encountered. At any rate, I feel sure that we’ll know the details soon enough and that justice will be served.
I suppose this is a cautionary tale of sorts.
Because here’s the thing. What if I hadn’t had a friend’s house to run to hide in? What if I had encountered that guy in an isolated place? Or had ridden my bike to meet him at the same spot I tried to train that stupid horse? What if he felt slighted or emasculated or just couldn’t control his urges and then thought…’shit she’ll tell her parents and she knows my name’? It could have ended differently and then everyone would be saying…
She just went for a walk.