Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The girl who didn't come back

Elizabeth Smart (left) & Brooke Wilberger (right)

Speaking of flashbulb memories, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard that Elizabeth Smart had been kidnapped, and exactly where I was when she was found. I wept when I heard both pieces of news, of course for different reasons. We were living in American Fork when she was recovered and it took them a few months to take down the MISSING billboard on I-15 with her picture on it. Every time I drove past that billboard in the meantime, it was all I could do to keep from busting into a huge smile.

I've always been intrigued by kidnapping cases. Perhaps it's because I grew up in the shadow of the Polly Klaas kidnapping. She was the same age as me and for what felt like years after her case had been resolved, I still saw her missing child posters at rest stops along I-5 on family vacations to California.

A little more than a year after Elizabeth Smart was found so miraculously in 2003, a BYU student named Brooke Wilberger was abducted in Corvallis, Oregon. After an initial media frenzy as everyone did their best to find the girl, things died down. I always remembered the case, though, and thought about Brooke from time to time.

Now, we know what happened. And unlike Elizabeth Smart, Brooke Wilberger will not be coming home. I wept for her and her family last night. I wish they could have been happy tears, like they were for Elizabeth Smart. But they're not.

9 comments:

JackJen said...

I suppose there's something to be said about closure, but it's horribly tragic none the less. Thanks for the update--I was working full-time at BYU at the time and remember the ensuing frenzy when she was kidnapped.

Liz Johnson said...

Wow, I can't believe they found her. That makes me tear up. Good for them, and I'm so glad that Brooke's family can finally get some closure to this horrific nightmare.

Mikael said...

I heard it on the news and it sickened me. I was just about to post about this. But I just might not. My biggest fear in life is having my children kidnapped, and even worse, raped and murdered! Yes, her family got closure, but how sick is it that they are "gathering the remains"... ick! What a horrific thing. I hope her family gets through this. I can't even imagine

Crys said...

I remember when this happened. So sad.

Susanne said...

Wait, I thought these were both pics of Elizabeth Smart (child and then grown up), but now I see the one on the right is Brooke. Never heard of her until now. So sorry to read the sad news. :(

Fromagette said...

Thanks for letting me know what happened. I always wondered if they found anything about about her. What a sad, sad experience.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

For those of us who for 5 years have cared about this young woman we have never met, yesterday was an emotional day. Her family has known for 5 years that she was dead, so it was a relief for her to be found and now she can be laid to rest. The perp's account of what actually happened was revolting but somehow, her family's public face, though in pain, was dignified and sweetly forgiving.

This is her mother's statement to the press: http://www.kgw.com/video/index.html?nvid=400497&shu=1

Eevi said...

I watched the video clip that Suzanne posted. I am amazed by this mother's strength.

Layla said...

I remember when this happened and always wondered if her family would ever have closure. Thanks for the update. Sad sad story.

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