There has been some huge news around here lately. Remember a couple of years ago (well, those of you that have been reading my blog that long, anyway), when I posted about a girl named Chelsea Bruck who went missing from a Halloween party a few miles from my house? It was a big story, and even made national news. As time went on, there was less and less hope of ever finding out what happened to her, but my hometown community made sure she wasn't forgotten about.
Her favorite color was purple, so people hung purple ribbons in their yards, on their houses, on telephone poles, etc., to show their support.
I was kind of obsessed for a while with the story, because it was so unusual for something like that to happen around here.
I would deliberately run down the road where she went missing, so that I could look in ditches and cornfields for parts of the Halloween costume she'd been wearing, or anything unusual. In the spring of 2015, a woman's decomposed body was found about 12 miles away in a wooded area--and unfortunately, it turned out to be Chelsea's. Her death was determined to be a homicide, although the police didn't reveal any more details than that.
Over a million flyers had been distributed since she went missing, showing a sketch of a "person of interest"--but nothing ever seemed to pan out.
About a month ago, the local police posted an actual photograph from the party of (what appeared to be) the person in the sketch on the flyer, and the man came forward. He wasn't necessarily a suspect, but they wanted to talk to him as a witness. I hadn't heard anything else after that, but I was surprised to see that they were still actively investigating.
This past weekend, out of nowhere, an arrest for her murder was made (not the guy from the flyer). I was half asleep in bed when I saw the post by the local news on Facebook, and my eyes flew open. I was shocked--and so, so, so happy that they made an arrest! The detective was quoted as saying he was "1000% sure" this man was the one who murdered Chelsea. Apparently, the suspect knew things that only the killer would know--things that had never been released to the public.
His girlfriend spoke to the press--saying that he called her from jail the following day, and told her what had happened, and admitted that he did, in fact, kill Chelsea. He was arraigned yesterday, and his name was released: Daniel Clay, a 27-year old man from the same city where I live. He told the judge that he doesn't want bond--clearly, for his own safety from the community.
As you can imagine, this news has caused a flood of posts on social media--everyone is thrilled that he was caught! I had honestly given up hope that they would ever find out who did it. There are still so many unanswered questions--why? how? when? was it planned? why her? Hopefully those answers will come out in court. He's being charged with second degree murder, so the police don't think that he planned it.
Another news story that I got caught up in last week was that a 20-year old girl named Sierah Joughin went missing (probably 30-40 minutes from here?). She was out for a bike ride with her boyfriend, and her boyfriend went back home before she did--and she never returned. A day or two later, her bicycle was found in a cornfield, and there were signs of foul play. I was checking the news constantly, hoping that they'd find her alive.
A man named James Worley was arrested for her abduction, although they still hadn't found her (it wasn't specified what led them to arrest him). Then the following day, a woman's body was found nearby, and the police said they "strongly believe" that it was Sierah (still waiting on confirmation from the coroner).
This case really caught my attention. She was a 20-year old woman abducted while riding her bike! I think about my safety a lot when I ride my bike (or when I run), but usually it's the fear of being hit by a car or something. When I read the story, I tried to think of what situation would cause me to let my guard down while out for a bike ride--and honestly, I think if someone stopped a car to ask for directions or something, I would probably stop my ride to tell them. It just seems like it would be difficult to abduct an adult on a bicycle.
Once I read about the suspect's past, however, it made so much sense. Worley was actually convicted of abducting a woman from her bike in 1990, under very similar circumstances! The woman managed to escape, thankfully. He did just three years in prison for it. But she explained how it happened: She was riding her bike when a truck passed her, going the opposite direction. A few moments later, the same truck struck her bicycle from behind, and she tumbled off the bike and into a ditch. The driver went over to her to ask if she was okay, and then struck her on the head with something. He put her in his truck, and even injured, she managed to escape. I'm amazed he only did three years in prison for that.
It honestly never occurred to me that someone would deliberately strike a cyclist in order to abduct them. I teach my kids all the time about what to do if they are approached by a stranger, in all sorts of circumstances--but this one that I never thought of. The only way to really avoid that is by staying on very public roads, or riding with a group.
I'm so sad for her family, and particularly her boyfriend, who probably feels terrible now for leaving her to finish her ride alone. I hope Worley never gets out of prison! And it makes me wonder if he's done this between 1990 and now. That's a long time between abductions. It's scary.
Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be such a downer of a post! I don't follow the news much, because it really is depressing to read these days. But sometimes, a story really grabs my attention, and these happened to be two of them. So, Friends, please be careful out there! Whether you're cycling or running or anything else.
To end on a positive note, check out this picture I took today--I think Joey looks hilarious! His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and something to his right had clearly caught his attention ;)
Also, my boys are nearly the same height! I didn't even notice until I looked at this photo.