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."


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