A Stranger Stole my Child.
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
We had two deaths in the family in two months, to say we were struggling as a family would have been an understatement. Our children were ages 8,6, and 4.
They were active and life kept spinning.
We had jobs and bills to pay while we were grieving.
I had put off shoe shopping for the new school year so I needed to take all three kids with me. I thought we would get out and I would try to forget my grief and be a good mom. We went to Dick’s thinking I could get all sports shoes and school shoes in one stop.
If I only knew what was about to happen next.
We walked into the store hand in hand like we always did. I held the two smallest kids with each hand and my oldest, 8 years old, held the youngest hand.
I thought I was being a good mom.
We went to the shoe department which was all the way in the back of the store with a straight shot from the exit doors. We finally picked everyone’s shoes hoping the cheapest shoes would fit each child. I had all children within 5 feet of myself while I carried multiple pairs of shoes to the shoe guy.
I gave him the shoe sizes I needed and when I turned around, my youngest was gone.
I ask my other two children where she was.
They told me she went with the nice lady.
My heart stopped that day.
I had never been separated from my kids before.
My husband’s best friend was a police detective.
We knew all the dos and don’ts.
Where had I gone wrong?
I scanned the store and saw nothing.
I thought maybe my youngest had seen a friend of mine and had gone with them.
I thought maybe she was hiding around the clothes hanging on the rack.
But what about this nice lady?
I lived in a small community.
Maybe she just wandered off, but she was not a wanderer.
I was losing my mind.
I started screaming like that crazy mom that had just lost their child.
I would scream her name and listen.
Everyone looked at me like I was a lunatic.
I heard nothing.
I remember spinning slowly in a circle looking for her.
I kept thinking this is not happening, not now. My family is so broken from all our recent deaths, this cannot be happening. I kept screaming her name, but nothing. I was standing in the shoe department facing the exit doors about to fall on the ground in prayer and then I saw it.
I saw her brightly colored flower dress.
She was almost out the door holding the hand of a nice looking woman with another child of about 8 years old.
The woman was smiling and talking with my daughter.
I grabbed my other two kids and started running. I was running and screaming her name, but they were too far away to hear me.
Finally, my daughter heard my voice and broke away from this woman.
I fell to the ground hugging my daughter,
but what I saw still haunts me.
She looked like someone I could be friends with except instead of being happy she had reunited a mother with her child, she looked sad. She looked sad to be losing my daughter. The child she was with also looked sad.
I was crying and the next thing I saw when I opened my eyes was nothing.
I saw no woman and no child.
Where had they gone.
They had vanished.
My daughter asked me why I was crying.
I told her I had lost her.
She looked at me and said, “no mama, you did not lose me. I was just going to get a piece of candy with the lady.”
I was so confused, but so grateful to have all three of my children back. We quickly got loaded up in my van where I proceeded to have my ugly cry.
What had just happened?
I drove home not really knowing how I got us home.
My husband had just gotten home from work and I collapsed in his arms.
I told him the whole story and he quickly called Dick’s and they asked us to go back to look at their video footage, but I could not go.
My husband went and I got dinner ready while I was stunned, but happy to have my three children safe in our home playing in the basement. He spent several hours at Dick’s with the manager looking through video and filing a police report.
The lady was caught on tape trying to leave with our daughter.
She was wanted by the police.
There was not enough evidence to make anyone pay for the feeling that I had.
I have yet to go to Dick’s sporting goods without my husband when I have more than one child in toe. Even today I realize the impact this has had on my life as I revisit this day and I am sick to my stomach.
To those parents that have had their child go missing,
my heart cries for you.
I lived your pain for only moments and it changed my life.
I pray your guardian angels help bring you back to your child like our angels did our daughter.
To the parents that read this and think I am careful and this could not happen to me,
I say, hold your children close.
Pay attention every second you are with them.
Remember their clothing and your surroundings.
I pray you will never need to recall any of those details.
I pray you are never separated from your child.
I pray that you never look back and think what did I do wrong as a parent.