Trudy Appleby: 15 years after girl vanished, hope but no resolution

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2011, 5:44 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 22, 2011, 7:17 am
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By Laura Anderson Shaw,

It has been 15 years of nothing.

"No Trudy. No body. No answers or nothing," said Dennis Appleby, the father of the little girl who vanished 15 years ago.

There's "hope here and there," he said, but even that seems to be slipping away.

Mr. Appleby choked back tears as he spoke Sunday at the annual vigil held at East Moline's First Baptist Church to remember his daughter, Trudy. She disappeared Aug. 21, 1996, two weeks before her 12th birthday, and last was seen entering a silver or gray "boxy" vehicle with an unknown white male who appeared to be in his 20s.

Mr. Appleby said police still are getting leads, and he has heard that only "the best of the best" get to work Trudy's case.

In the silent limbo, he said his daughter, Brandi, keeps him going. "I have to — I don't have a choice," he said.

Brandi is the age Trudy was when she disappeared, Mr. Appleby said, adding a rhetorical "how do you think" that sits on the mind?

While he was grateful for the roughly 30 friends, family and community members who came to offer support, he said he was "miserable."

The vigil and the anniversary of her disappearance is "not something I look forward to. What do you tell people after 15 years?" he said.

When no other words would come, all he could think to say was we "love you, Trudy. Wherever you're at."

For Trudy's mother, Brenda Gordon, stomaching Trudy's disappearance has gotten "easier — a little easier," she said, after tucking a tissue into her pocket.

Ms. Gordon said Jesus, God, The Lord and Holy Spirit have helped carry her through, and she just was trying to hang in there and keep hoping just as she hopes Trudy still would do.

She said she was thankful for the support she and her family have received from friends and the community.

"What else can really be done?" she said.

Ms. Gordon begged that anyone who knows anything please come forward and give that information to police. 

"I love you, Trudy," she said.

The Rev. Brian Fischer of First Baptist Church — who led the vigil — told those who came that lately, he has been asked why the group still gathers every year. "Because as people of faith, we have hope," he said.

With some prayers, scripture readings, and songs including "Amazing Grace," and "How Great Thou Art," the group gathered, cried and supported each other.

Small glass stones to represent tears and rays of hope were passed out for folks to carry in their pockets to remember Trudy and others who have been lost.

In the past, Rev. Fischer said gatherers have done many things including a balloon release, but this year was just a get together with family and friends meant for hope. 

His overall message was exactly that, Rev. Fischer said. 

"This year, it's hope — more than ever, now."


Local events heading

  Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.

(More History)