The kidnapping of Sarah Maynard and the murders of her mother, Tina, brother, Kody and family friend, Stephanie stir up memories of a day in November in 1971.  I had been following the news of their disappearance while in New Hampshire doing book signings for A Child Is Missing, a true story about the murder of my sister Kathy.  I was anxious to finish up and get home to Mount Vernon so I could help with the search for Tina and her children and for Stephanie, Tina’s friend.

I began to pray for all of them and was  thankful when I heard that Sarah had been found.  The details were vague but I knew that she had been rescued.  She had been bound and gagged in the basement of a man’s home in Mount Vernon.    Sarah was controlled by this madman, Matthew Hoffman for four days.  Four days that felt like eternity, waiting for someone to find her.  It’s not a matter of  just being afraid, it’s a time of being terrified.

Details of her ordeal were not released but I could only imagine what she had already been through.  What had he done to her?  What had she seen?  It made me recall the night Kathy went missing, panic set in when she didn’t return home from the store.  We searched for her and found nothing.  Then we got the news, she had been found but she was not alive, she had been murdered.  The details of what happened to her were gruesome and unthinkable.

I was relieved that Sarah was alive but I knew she probably didn’t go unharmed.  Sarah was thirteen, Kathy was thirteen.  Sarah went missing in the month of November, Kathy went missing in the month of November.  Sarah was found alive, Kathy was found murdered.  She had been repeatedly raped, beaten, strangled, run over by a car, and left naked (except for a pair of knee highs) in the woods on a cold November night.  I was so thankful, Sarah was alive.

Tina, Sarah’s mom, her brother Koby and the family friend Stephanie would not have the same outcome.   This maniac had killed all three, put them in trash bags and hid them in the hollow of a tree.  How dare he take the life of these that were loved by others.  How dare he think that he had any right to Sarah.  Yes, Sarah was found alive, but this sweet little girl will now, because of this evil man, have to face a life that no child should ever have to endure.   Others will walk the road of sorrow because of this man, who filled with evil, saw no value in the life of another.   But not only that, he stole a piece of Sarah’s life and of all the lives that love Tina, Koby, and Stephanie.

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