(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): I’m Todd Matthews and tonight on Missing Pieces we have Kathy Holloway, mother and grandmother of Jennifer and Adrianna Wix. Welcome Kathy.
KATHY HOLLOWAY (Guest): Hi Todd. Thank you for having me.
TODD: Oh, I’m more than happy to have you. You’re a fellow Tennessee person so it’s good to have a Southerner with me.
TODD: You’ve been through a lot. Now, your daughter and your granddaughter…now, you’re in Robertson County right, and that’s in middle Tennessee?
KATHY: That’s right.
TODD: Okay, and I’m familiar with the area. I think you live in Cross Plains, is this where this happened?
KATHY: Yes, that’s where my girls disappeared from.
TODD: Okay, let’s see, can you tell me a little bit about it? I think it’s March 24th, 2004, Jennifer called you and she was a little upset.
KATHY: That’s right. That was the last time I spoke with Jennifer was on Wednesday night, March 24, 2004. She called me, pretty upset. She lived with her boyfriend and his mother and father, and there was some discord going on there in the home and a lot of arguing and bad names being called and just a bad scene that had her pretty upset, with her crying and the baby crying. She was upset…I think the argument, from what I gathered from her, the argument centered around that she was trying to teach the baby to sleep in her own bedroom…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …and it had upset the mother in this household, the boyfriend’s mother. It had upset her because the baby was crying and she wanted Jennifer to come and get the baby and she was tired of hearing her cry.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: And Jennifer was trying to be obstinate, you know, “That’s my child and this is what I’m teaching her.” I talked to Jennifer and explained to her that maybe this wasn’t a good night, because everybody was upset, you know, to teach Adrianna this little lesson and maybe she should just bring her in her room with her…
TODD: Was this Adrianna’s grandmother?
KATHY: Jennifer and Adrianna had only lived…this is Jennifer’s boyfriend, and they had lived in these folks’ home for 3 months, since December of ’03. Almost 3 months to the day. They moved in with them on December 21st of 2003 and they disappeared March 25th of 2004. That was a Wednesday evening and I asked Jennifer if she wanted me to come and get her but, of course, being a 21-year-old young lady trying to make it on her own and do things her way…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …and she said “No” and that she would be fine and that she’d talk to me tomorrow. We closed our conversation with “I love you.” She told me that the baby had quietened and she told that the baby had lain down and went to sleep and we said our “love you’s” and “talk to you tomorrow.” And tomorrow never came yet. I’m still waiting to hear from her. Thursday, March 25th, was the last time anyone in our family spoke with Jennifer and that last conversation was probably at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My sister, Jennifer’s aunt spoke with her on the telephone and Jennifer was still talking about the discord in the family, the arguing and all that had been going on for a week or two there, just a lot of discomfort, you know, and ended the conversation with “Everything is fine and I’ll talk to you later” and had planned, she was asking about a movie that they were all going to get together and watch. “Maybe we’ll get together and watch that movie” and basically that was the end of the conversation and no one ever heard from her again.
TODD: And that was 3 years ago, just a little over 3 years ago now.
KATHY: That’s right, it was 3 years ago. We just had the balloon release for the 3rd anniversary of the disappearance just a few weeks ago, but, at that point in time, Friday, I didn’t think a lot about not hearing from her on Thursday because, like I said, she’s 21 and she’s out on her own so I didn’t think a whole lot. I thought maybe they just made up and she was just busy and hadn’t called.
TODD: So a day or two might have been normal, right?
KATHY: Right. Right, and so Friday, I has at work and got that…this ‘worry feeling’ about her all day long.
TODD: A lot of people describe that feeling and, you know, I believe there’s some merit in that. It’s just like you know.
TODD: Something’s wrong.
KATHY: I knew something was wrong. I felt it in my stomach, you know and in my heart. I just felt that something was wrong. So, I basically just was really anxious; I worked a job, at the time, where I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call, so I was anxious to get home and call her, and when I got home and started trying to call her, which the only way I had to reach her was her boyfriend’s cell phone because she didn’t have phone of her own.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: I started trying to call but was getting no answer. She didn’t have a voicemail set up so I couldn’t leave her a voicemail, and I was just kind of a loss and I called her grandmother and asked because Jennifer was very, very close to her grandmother and talked to her daily, they were just that close, and so I called her to ask, “So have you heard from her?” and she had not either. And we just kind of joked, “Well no news from Jennifer is good new, I guess” and “She’ll call when she needs us”, you know?
KATHY: And we just kind of joked about that and hung up and then about an hour later, I get a phone call back from her grandmother, and she was hysterical, telling me something was wrong and telling me “Jennifer’s missing.”
TODD: Now, what led her to believe…what changed?
KATHY: Well, apparently what had happened is, this boyfriend and his father had came to my sister’s house on Friday evening…let me take that back a little bit because that didn’t happen immediately. The first thing that happened was, his father called my sister’s house and asked if Jennifer was there, and my sister said, “No, why would Jennifer be here?” He said, “Well, her and Joey got in an argument and I thought maybe she might have come to your house and her income tax is in and I want to give it to her because she has no money.” And so my sister says, “Jennifer’s not at my house” and so she says, “I want to talk to Joey, the boyfriend” and so then he gets his son and they come to my sister’s house and my sister knew the boy personally and so she asked him, “Where’s Jennifer and Adrianna?” So that’s when he tells her, “Oh well, last night we got in an argument and I dropped her off up here at the interstate exit.”
KATHY: She just went livid, you know. “Why would you do such a thing? Why? Why?”
TODD: He dropped her and Adrianna off?
KATHY: Right. That is what he told.
TODD: And Adrianna is how old, at that time?
KATHY: Two. Uh hum…uh hum. So, he told my sister, this is Friday night, he told my sister, “She’s supposed to come back to the house tomorrow to get her income tax.” So we waited until Saturday and we called him again, “Have you talked to her yet? Has she come there yet?” He kept telling us “No” or avoiding our phone calls, and by Saturday afternoon, we were frantic.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: And we all felt like he was not telling the truth and so we reported her missing.
TODD: Now, how many days had that been?
KATHY: Last conversation with her by anyone was on Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock and we reported her missing Saturday afternoon at probably 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.
TODD: So that should have been plenty for law enforcement to say, “Okay.”
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: Something…and especially she had the baby.
KATHY: Right. And had no car; had no phone; had no money; had no job; no resources.
TODD: Well, did the boyfriend have a theory?
KATHY: Oh yes. He told…his statement to law enforcement was that they had went for a ride on Thursday evening, after arguing, had decided to break up.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: And she asked him to stop at a grocery store, there’s one little grocery store in the town of Cross Plains, it was at closing time, around 9:00 in the evening.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: She went inside, came back out in a couple of minutes, got in the car with him and told him, “Take me to the interstate.” And that he didn’t question her, and that he drove to the interstate a couple of miles up the road and that she got out at the Exxon at Exit 112 on I-65 North. And he said that she did not want him to stay. He assumed that she went into the store to use the telephone and was meeting someone there because he drove across the road and sat in a church parking lot and watched and waited, where he then seen a white 4-door, at first he told law enforcement that it was a white 4-door Camaro. Law enforcement said, “Don’t believe there is such a thing.” And he said, “Oh, I’m wrong, it was a 4-door Mustang.”
TODD: There’s not a lot of those either, right?
KATHY: Again, there’s no such a thing, and he said, “Well, it was a late-model white car.” Where she got into the back seat, her and the baby, and they drove away. He could not tell them which way they drove away, which direction the car came from or which direction the car left in. Then he said she came back to his house on Friday, around noon, driving that white car, without the baby, and then when I asked what she came for, he said, “To get the baby’s car seat and the diaper bag. She stuffed a few things in the diaper bag, grabbed the car seat, put it in the back seat of the car and drove away. And asked for her income tax return.” But she had had her income tax direct-deposited into his parents’ bank account and so they needed to be there to write a check to her for it and they weren’t there. So that’s when he said she told him, “I’ll come back Saturday and get it.” And she never did.
TODD: Well, do you know anybody that has any kind of white car that matches even remotely that description?
KATHY: No. Unh-uh. No, and you know, strangely enough, he gave a description of probably the most common car on the highway. You know, a 4-door white car. So that was basically the end of his tale. But, at that moment, and as a parent knowing my daughter the way I do, things didn’t ring true to me, because I know my child, and for one thing, I know that when she left on Friday night, she would have had the baby in the car seat. I mean, on Thursday night, she wouldn’t have had to come back for it on Friday. She would have had it with her. She didn’t take the baby anywhere that she wasn’t buckled in; she was fanatic about that. Another thing is, she wouldn’t have stood on the interstate at 9:30 at night, on a March night, with no coat or anything on her child, and got into a car with any stranger. And like I said, we know no one who has a car that fits that description.
TODD: If she was that upset and she wanted to get away, she had easy access to you.
KATHY: She passed my house to get to the interstate.
TODD: So, it would make no sense for her to be that upset that she would reach out to a stranger?
KATHY: Exactly. She had just reached out to me the night before, by calling me when they were arguing.
TODD: So she had no car, no money, no clothes, personal items, I’m reading from your website now. Open investigation, right?
TODD: And detectives suspect ‘no foul play.’
KATHY: That’s correct though, recently, the release that was made at the third anniversary, was that, in the media here locally, was that law enforcement, I guess, has now re-classified the case as missing and presumed dead.
TODD: Now the reason that it would be ‘no foul play’ at the time is because they had no evidence to suggest that there was foul play. No physical evidence, no blood or some type of evidence left behind, and that’s normal. You know, I understand that. I don’t always agree with it when they make these calls, but I can understand.
TODD: How they can get to that point in time because I’ve actually heard from some people and they know for a fact that this has happened then I get the call back from them the next day, “Oh, scratch that, I was wrong. They’re home.”
TODD: You know, but you put a lot of effort in and I don’t mind, but, you know you think, “If they would listen” and there’s a few steps that they could follow that would save them a lot of grief.
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: Now when you talked to law enforcement and you reported this case, how did they react when you walked into the station or made the phone call?
KATHY: Well, an officer came to my home, where there were several of us gathered who were all concerned, you know, family members, grandparents, sisters, you know things like that. They handed us all a piece of paper and a pencil and asked us all to write down our last contact with Jennifer, our last conversation with her. It was just a patrol officer, so he went to the family’s home to do a welfare check on them and where he was not met with open arms, I guess you could say.
TODD: uh hum
KATHY: He immediately came back to my house, this officer did, and told me that he felt that something was terribly wrong, and that he was going back to the station and he was going to try to call in some officers that would be coming in on the next shift, and have them come in a little early and get some dogs and try to obtain a warrant, and he was going to try to go out and see if they could find my girls. And he was very alarmed, this young officer was, very alarmed, and I think the main reason he was alarmed was because of the attitude and because of the statement about the Camaro and the Mustang and that sort of thing. So I didn’t hear from him. He left and went back to the station and hours passed and I’m thinking that they’re over searching for my children and I’m pacing the floor and hours passed and I hadn’t heard anything. And so…and they had instructed me to stay put, you know, so I called, got him on the phone and he told me that he was now just doing the report from the case, writing, typing his report and the file…this was on Saturday, that the file would be given to a detective on Monday, and I was to contact the detective Monday morning. And I said, “Are they doing a search? Have they found anything?” and he said, “No, ma’am they’re not doing the search.”
TODD: Now how do you account for this change in attitude? Because, obviously, you said that he was a young officer, right?
TODD: And he was very alarmed at the beginning?
KATHY: Well, I might also add that that officer was dismissed from the sheriff’s department just a few weeks after this.
TODD: Do you feel that’s directly connected to that?
KATHY: Yes, I do, Todd. I certainly do. He was dismissed and accused of filing a false report and apparently these folks said that this young man didn’t make a statement about the Mustang and the Camaro to him.
TODD: So his main, the officer’s main problem was possibly he might have mishandled the intake and maybe didn’t document it clearly enough to prevent somebody from changing their story. You know I always felt that they should record these statements, you know with a tape recorder and take a statement, and when they say, “No, I didn’t.” Yes you did.
KATHY: Well, what has always baffled me is, because this officer was very precise and he did, when he had come to my house to take the initial report of me filing a missing, he put a tape recorder right in the middle of the table. So I couldn’t understand if he recorded that part of his report, why he didn’t record when he went to the young man’s house.
TODD: So you still don’t know whether he did or not?
KATHY: I don’t. I don’t.
TODD: That might be something that you might want to ask.
KATHY: I have. Any time that I bring up anything about this officer, the sheriff’s department, the officials at the sheriff’s department just kind of go on shutdown with me and it’s not something that they are willing to talk about.
TODD: And it’s not my favorite thing to put law enforcement on the spot because I have to work with them, you know, because you want to be supportive for them but you also…you know there’s questions. When a family member has a question and it’s a pressing question like this one, it’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, was the recording made? Does it exist?
KATHY: And I would say there must not have been for them to be able to release him from duty the way they did.
TODD: Have you tried to make contact with him?
KATHY: Yeah, I have had the opportunity to see him a few times since it happened.
TODD: And I won’t press you on the air with that. I’m just touching on that point and then we can move on from that. Wow, well everything changed then from that point in time, but they did file the report.
KATHY: They did file a report.
TODD: Do you feel like it just kind of…?
KATHY: I feel like that if I had not pushed, and pushed real hard, it would have just been filed away somewhere and forgotten, basically. I kept being told that, “Ah, she’s just ran off. She’s just mad. She’ll be back.”
TODD: She’s never had a history of running away never, ever?
KATHY: Never. Never, ever.
TODD: If you ever have even one time where a child had run away, maybe even when they were like, 4, that’s a history, a history of running away and that kind of hurts your case but you’re saying, “This not something that she has ever done.”
KATHY: Right. To be fair about this, you know I want to be very fair with law enforcement about this, there was an incident when she was 14, 15, around in there…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …she didn’t come directly home from school one day and I, as a parent, panicked, and called the police, and as it had turned out, she had went to a friend’s and didn’t come home from school.
TODD: But that wasn’t leaving, she just took the long way home.
KATHY: Exactly. Right. She didn’t run away, but because I had made that call and that call was on record, they tried to say, “Well, didn’t she do something?” You know?
TODD: Well, that taking the long was home, is pretty much standard procedure for a teenager when they have the opportunity.
TODD: You know, even mine, as protective as we had to because of this world that I’ve become involved in, we keep really close tabs on our kids, more so than they realize often, and they’ve seen it all. My sons have seen bones of unidentified persons that we’re actually working on and getting clay reconstructions done, here in the home and they realize the reality of it. When you see it looking you right in the face but, yet, all kids are going to take a little bit of a risk when they are that age.
KATHY: It’s part of their nature.
TODD: It’s not abnormal.
TODD: But it is something to…
KATHY: I, as a parent, will knock myself up because I ever made that call back then because I was thinking at the time, “Wow, this is hurting her now.”
TODD: But you felt like you had to do it, but that was something for law enforcement to say, “But there is a possibility because of this history.”
TODD: And a lot of times, maybe that’s just to kind of keep the pressure off them a little bit when they’re not able to produce as quickly as the parent wants them to produce because there’s nothing that hurts worse than what you went through.
KATHY: I can’t think of a thing that could ever hurt me. I feel now like there’s…I feel now like there’s nothing physical or mental, there’s nothing on this earth that can hurt me. I feel so tough.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: And, it’s a little hard to explain, but I feel very tough-skinned because, I feel like…I didn’t think that I was going to live through this, I still don’t know how I lived through it sometimes, but in the very beginning…
TODD: Well it’s still unknown. You still don’t know how this is going to impact you in the future.
KATHY: I have no idea.
TODD: You’ve got a huge road ahead of you…in three years, three years is not a long time but I imagine it’s been like 3 lifetimes for you.
KATHY: It has and I can say the first, I would say the first 9 or 10 months especially, the first year, I didn’t think I would survive, literally. I didn’t think that I could get through it but now that I have and I had no choice, I had to, I have 2 other children and I have a husband, I have a job and a career and a home and stuff. I just haven’t been given a choice but to survive.
TODD: Well you have to live or not live.
TODD: Basically you had to make the choice to live and no matter what’s happened to Jennifer, you know that she would want you to be okay.
TODD: But you’ve been more than okay because you’ve actually done a lot to try to help her case.
KATHY: Yes, I’ve done everything in my power and, as a mother, I feel like I like have to be her voice, and I’m going to continue to be her voice until I find her, until I bring her home one way or another, you know. My prayer is that law enforcement was right at the beginning and she just ran off and she’ll be back. And that’s my prayer, but my reality is that it’s not very likely, and law enforcement doesn’t even believe that she’ll be back at this point.
TODD: Well you can call Robertson’s County Sheriff’s Department, anybody listening that might have any idea at 615-384-7971. We would all appreciate any tips coming in. Do you have the name of the name of the investigator that would be really good to talk to?
KATHY: Yes. It’s Lieutenant Don Bennett.
TODD: Don Bennett.
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: And he’s been really helpful?
KATHY: He’s been…yes, he’s been the investigator on the case since the beginning and he knows the case, front and back, and he’s the man. He’s the man. He’s who I speak with about the case on a weekly basis, you know we talk every week, whether there is anything new to talk about or not, we talk. I admit that it wasn’t easy in the beginning because we didn’t start our relationship off real well.
TODD: Well that’s understandable.
KATHY: Well we have a good rapport now and a good understanding of each other and we work really well together.
TODD: Well, even though you work with him and you’ve got the website, you’ve got personal contact information on the website, you do…like you said, he’s the man in charge.
KATHY: That’s right. He’s the man in charge and he made the decision a few weeks ago, him and the DA in Robertson County, made the decision to change the status to ‘missing and presumed dead,’ and the family made the decision to…we had a $15,000 reward for her safe return and we made the decision to up the reward and to change it to ‘for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the disappearance.’ So there’s now a $26,000 reward for that.
TODD: So you kind of expanded the circumstances and then increased the amount of the reward?
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: Did that change anything?
KATHY: It hasn’t so far. It hasn’t changed anything so far.
TODD: Because when this happened, I think you’ve come to realize something you probably didn’t know, and we’ve talked about that earlier, we’ve had the conversation before and we’ve exchanged some emails and I’ve definitely read your story, you’ve come to realize that entire legions of people are missing.
KATHY: Yeah. Unbelievable.
TODD: Did you have any idea?
KATHY: I had no idea.
TODD: And that’s sad.
KATHY: I had no idea. It’s so very, very sad and I don’t think that the general public even realizes how many people there are and what kind of effect it has on our entire family and, not just the immediate family, the extended family, your friends. It impacts you in ways that are indescribable. You life will never be the same.
TODD: When one person falls off the face of the earth, you know, literally dozens of people are directly affected.
TODD: And then more people are indirectly affected.
KATHY: uh hum
TODD: And it creates a whole cataclysm of events that I don’t think people realize what’s happened, you know when an individual is just gone like that.
KATHY: No, they don’t, and you know losing a child in any way, or anybody you love, is bad enough, but to lose one and not know, just now know, and hang in limbo and not know if they’re dead or if they’re alive. Is today going to be the day that you do something? Is today going to be the day that you get the knock on the door? And to not know what happened to them, and to know that you can’t…you know a lot of us Southerners, we’ve got our deep Christian faith and our rituals or burying people…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …you know, having the whole funeral service, memorial service and knowing where they’re at and putting flowers at a gravesite.
TODD: A place to go to.
KATHY: A place to go…
TODD: It’s very important, you know, to have that point. What I don’t understand is you, in talking to you, I might never know this, you have went through…I don’t know how you’ve done it, you are friendly, you are outgoing, you’re just…you’re so friendly and it’s just unreal. I would never guess in talking to you, unless you told me, that all this was going on behind the scenes.
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: How do you do that? How do you manage to do that? Is that how you put it behind you?
KATHY: That’s how I deal with it. But I think what really broke me was, like I said, the first year I had a really, really rough time, emotionally, and physically just functioning.
TODD: uh hum
KATHY: I was debilitated. I was just existing. I have been to 7 states looking for my child and my grandchild. I went for days without eating or sleeping, just on the go, looking, looking, talking to whoever I could talk to, you know, I was just going. And, like I said, I have to other daughters, younger than Jennifer, and one day they sat me down and they said, “Mom, we miss Jennifer too” and I said, “I know you do.” And they said, ‘But we haven’t just lost Jennifer, we’ve lost you too.”
TODD: Absolutely. That’s true. It’s literally physically and mentally disabling.
KATHY: It is.
TODD: It really is and there’s no way to build back up from something like this. It’s just…time has to pass and you have to decide “I’m going to live.”
KATHY: That’s right, you make the decision. You have to make the decision and that day when the girls said that to me, I decided that day that it had been tragedy enough and they had been through so much and they were hurting so bad and that I loved them so much that I couldn’t continue to inflict the pain on them day in and day out. That I needed them to have as much as a normal life as possible and that their lives will never be completely normal again, but I needed them, as teenage girls, they needed to have as much as normalcy at that given time in their life; they were in high school.
TODD: It’s so important that you realized that in time.
KATHY: Yes, and so now I go to work, there are so many people, we were just on the local news recently and I had customers approach me at work and just take my hand and say, “I had no idea until I saw you on the news.”
TODD: Yeah. It’s amazing, you know, that you were able to turn in around and it is hard enough taking care of a teenage child whether you have this happening or not, I mean, just in normal circumstances, a teenage child is very difficult to maintain and not let them slip through your fingers and fall through the cracks themselves because there are so many dangers out there.
KATHY: Well, that was what I was afraid would happen to my other girls.
TODD: You could have lost more.
KATHY: Yes, and I could not let that happen and so I had to buck up, I had to get strong, and I knew that I had to fight for Jennifer and Adrianna, and I knew that I had to be their voice and I knew that I had to fight for them. And then, like you said, I found out that there were so many other missing people in the world.
TODD: If you let it get you down, you will be no good to anybody. Not even yourself.
KATHY: That’s right. Not even myself, and so I just had to figure out a way turn it around, you know, and that’s not to say that there’s not many sleepless nights and that I don’t wake up at 2:00 a.m. just crying like a baby, like a fresh wound, but, for the most part, I’m able to handle my life and do what I have to do to get by and because I have to do it for Jennifer and Adrianna. I have to keep going for them. That’s what Jennifer would want. That’s what she would expect. She’s a tough girl, Jennifer is, she’s a very tough girl and she has a very big heart and she would want to know that her Mommy was fighting for her.
TODD: And you’ve done it well. You know I get a letter monthly from the Department of Justice FBI NCIC and the statistics are just unreal, but they’re not even realistic statistics. They list over 100,000 missing and over 6,000 unidentified that are reported to the FBI NCIC. This doesn’t reflect all cases that are officially reported to law enforcement because they don’t always get reported to the FBI NCIC and we know that there’s at least 10-50% more than that. You know there could be up to 40,000+ unidentified bodies and God only knows how many missing persons there are, but we know for a fact that there are over 100,000 easily.
KATHY: Absolutely. It’s just mind-boggling.
TODD: Can you imagine how we live, you live in a higher population than I do, I live in rural Middle Tennessee and now 100,000 people, if they just blew out of Middle Tennessee here, why it would create havoc, I mean, just…can you imagine? That’s, like I said before, it’s an entire legion of people gone.
KATHY: Well that’s just like dropping an atomic bomb on part of Middle Tennessee.
TODD: But, you know, nobody knows it. I still talk to reporters almost every day and even though these stories have been in the newspapers, I’ve worked to get them into a lot of different newspapers and a lot of different media outlets; those statistics, it’s like they might have read them but they didn’t read them and then they hear it again and it’s like “that’s not a typo, that’s real.”
TODD: And they’re still overwhelmed and these are people that cover hard news, homicide and so many really hard-to-deal-with cases, and they’re gasping because they didn’t know it.
KATHY: Right. Yeah.
TODD: So you can’t over-educate the population, there’s just no way.
KATHY: No, you can’t.
TODD: Now you’ve been working to try to help, and there are a lot of other states doing this, I’ve worked with people and, in fact, a couple of the other guests on our show have been involved in a bill for missing persons reporting; and I know of one in Indiana and at this point in the transcription of this particular episode, we will have links to that particular information for people to read it. And in Connecticut, there are bills going through and they’re having some degree of success of getting through, of how these cases are reported and how they’re reported to the FBI. How important would that be for Tennessee?
KATHY: Detrimental. It’s absolutely detrimental to Tennessee that they come on board with the states like Indiana and Connecticut that are finally seeing what these numbers that you were just talking about, are showing them.
TODD: Well I don’t want to say that Tennessee, their law enforcement doesn’t do a good job, it’s just I think there’s a lack of centralization.
TODD: But in Kentucky, they’re together, they’ve got it together. I’ve worked with them on their state website, there are just so many things and there’s just like a one-stop shopping. I’m in communication with these people almost daily. You can go to one person that can help facilitate any tip, anywhere in the state [of Kentucky]. In Tennessee, it’s really regional, the medical examiners are at the county level and I say this in joke, and it’s funny, and sometimes we laugh about, if somebody kills me I hope they throw me across the state line into Kentucky, and that’s the truth.
KATHY: It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, Todd.
TODD: But Kentucky, they’ve got it together…they’re more of the best, and I’d like to see Tennessee achieve that level.
KATHY: I would too.
TODD: I know it’s not real easy to do that.
KATHY: Right. I would like to see that happen too. There’s always room for change and change for the better.
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: And that’s how I see it as far as our state goes. Like you said, you don’t want to say that they don’t do a good job because they’re doing a good job with what our law says now for them to do.
KATHY: With what they’re given to do with right now, but I think that there’s room for improvement.
TODD: Well, if there was a standard procedure, a more standard procedure, and we’ve talked about it. There’s something wrong with your case. Now there’s something that you can’t report in your case. Can you explain that a little bit? There’s something that…you have a little bit of a problem with how you’re able to report something…
TODD: …and it’s because of a classification.
KATHY: Yeah. Yeah. Well the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has Tennessee Missing Children Clearinghouse…
TODD: uh hum
KATHY: …here’s a staggering fact, there’s only 16 children missing on that website.
TODD: And we know there’s more.
KATHY: We know there’s many, many, many more. Last year on National Missing Children’s Day was the last time I had an exact quote and I believe there was 856 missing children in Tennessee, and on that day last year there were 13 children [listed] on the Missing Children Clearinghouse’s website. So, my question is, how come we don’t get to see the faces of these other kids? And those other kids include my granddaughter, Adrianna.
TODD: Now why is she not there?
KATHY: Adrianna’s not there because she’s missing with her mother, with her legal guardian, even though her mother is now classified as ‘presumed dead’, she’s still not listed on Tennessee’s Missing Children Clearinghouse.
TODD: And even though it’s known, and we all know that there’s an obvious problem there, that particular loophole creates problem.
KATHY: It creates a problem. Adrianna, to me, in my mind, Adrianna has the right to be there. She has the right for people to see her face and to know what she looks like and she has the right for people to able to identify her and look for her. Now she qualifies to be on the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children’s site…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …so why is it then, in her home state, she can’t be on their site?
TODD: I mean, it’s ridiculous, you know.
KATHY: It’s absolutely ridiculous.
TODD: If it’s because she’s possibly in her mother’s care and her mother is presumed dead…
TODD: I mean, what a paradox. It just doesn’t make any sense.
TODD: And we talked earlier, that there needs to be some type of decision-making process, either like a judge or a district attorney that can review the situation and actually have the final call on something like that and say, “Hey, due to these circumstances, we are going to do the best that we can do for your missing child.”
KATHY: uh huh
TODD: “And that is to use every resource available....
KATHY: To look…
TODD: …for this.”
KATHY: And that’s how I feel. I feel, I wonder if, and the scenario goes through my mind so often, and has from the very beginning of this 3 years ago…I wonder if Adrianna was out there and somehow or another she ended up in state custody somewhere.
TODD: She could have. See, that’s the possibility…if somebody found it necessary to kill Jennifer, it wasn’t necessarily needed to kill Adrianna.
TODD: She’s 2 years old. She’s not talking. There’s some value in a child. Somebody will take care of her. You know anything could have happened.
KATHY: So, if that was the scenario, and that scenario has been given to me by official people, that that is a possibility.
TODD: I mean there’s logic in that.
KATHY: There is.
TODD: The possibility exists.
KATHY: The possibility exists. So if that possibility exists, she could end up in a state custody situation in another state perhaps, or another town, across our state, you know in East Tennessee, well we’re in Middle Tennessee.
TODD: I just don’t feel like we should let these rules…I know they have a procedure, but we’re letting this procedure bind us and keep us from doing the best that we can do.
TODD: And there’s got to be a way to bypass it.
KATHY: I agree. That’s exactly how I feel about it and I think that with the staggering numbers that we talked about a while ago…
TODD: uh hum
KATHY: …you know they say that every 30 seconds in the United States, a child disappears. So, every 30 seconds, there’s a family out there that’s living in the same situation, the same nightmare that I’m living through.
TODD: Well, I have nothing against politicians but I’ll put it this way, or even a sports figure…what if every day, not every 30 seconds…that a politician, or a sports figure, or a celebrity would disappear?
TODD: What do you think would happen?
KATHY: I think that there would be new laws put into place left and right.
TODD: There’d be a screeching halt, and that’s not saying that that’s anything bad against those people, it’s just that they’re more visible, and that’s what’s wrong, we’re not visible.
KATHY: And sometimes it’s infuriating because, to me, it’s my little granddaughter, my daughter and my little granddaughter…and so it infuriates me sometimes to think that they don’t have the worth, you know.
TODD: I mean, we’re just letting these laws and these particular procedures tie us up too much.
KATHY: uh hum
TODD: And we’ve got to find a way to get around that and that’s what I feel is just really critical, on a case by case basis, there’s got to be somebody in the decision-making process to say, “Due to these circumstances, we are going to include this in this case.” They’ve got the time, I mean, even though there’s 800+, like you said, missing children, there’s time to review them. There are enough people to review them and make these decisions.
KATHY: Well, any time that I get the opportunity to speak publicly, like we are tonight, what I like to say is that if anybody listening doesn’t take anything else away from the conversation, my hope is that they’ll remember these numbers that we’ve given them and they’ll remember that it could be them. They could be sitting in these same shoes, and that they’ll be involved.
TODD: Well it changes the way, you know it’s easy to kind of say, “Well, I don’t really have a missing person” or “I don’t really know anybody” and it’s really something that kind of awful to think about and it’s easy to forget it until you get slapped in the face with it.
TODD: You can’t ignore it anymore.
KATHY: And then you can’t ignore it anymore.
TODD: Well I’m going to have to help out my friend, the state medical examiner in Kentucky, she reminded me through the state police again today that it’s very important that we publish the fact, in any way that we can publish the fact, that there is a National DNA Database.
KATHY: uh hum
TODD: We will include the information and you have got your DNA in this National DNA Database.
KATHY: It was a struggle.
TODD: You have to ask, right? It doesn’t happen automatically.
KATHY: It does not happen automatically, which is another thing that I think should happen automatically.
TODD: Well, I mean it should be presented to…even if it something you’re going to have to ask, you know there should be some type of handbook that’s made available to you; these are your options.
TODD: These are your goals, you know, and it’s turning out to be people like us that are having to go and make other people aware of these things.
KATHY: Yeah, you’re right. You’re right.
TODD: I mean, I think everybody’s doing a great job.
KATHY: I think so too. You know I have a non-profit organization now and I have to tell people.
TODD: And that’s what you’ve got now, Tennessee Missing, now tell me a little bit about that, tell me the website domain for that.
KATHY: It’s http://tnmissing.org. Our organization is the Tennessee Alliance for Families of the Missing.
TODD: And this is to help the families understand exactly what their options are.
KATHY: What their options are and to help them resource people like you that they can talk with and just branch out and get their loved one’s face and their case more known with media attention and the main thing we do is listen to them and just listen. You know, some of my families, I take a call from them in the middle of the night, you know.
TODD: uh hum
KATHY: There are feelings that a person gets when they are going through this that, probably if you haven’t been through it, you don’t understand. Just the feelings of anger that will come on you or frustrations and sometimes you just need to let it out, and so that’s…the main thing that we do is that we’re just there to listen.
TODD: Well, I’ve worked with people before that’s had missing family members and I’ve worked on the site of the unidentified trying to advocate directly but I’ve never had a missing person, and I’ll tell you what, it scares the hell out of me. That is the honest truth. You know, that’s my nightmare. That’s what I wake up to with fright. That’s something, you know we’ve got to be better prepared.
KATHY: I’ve had parents tell me, who haven’t had a missing person, but they’ve shared with me that they have had a moment or two where, for whatever reason, their child didn’t get on the bus that afternoon, or their child disappeared in a department store, got behind a rack or something and hid from them.
TODD: And that’s a good example…that moment.
KATHY: The panic at that moment.
TODD: Can you imagine that 30 seconds that you just had the most frightening moment of your whole life…?
KATHY: And then, you’re stuck in it.
TODD: Say it never ends, it never ends. It keeps going and you have to learn to live in that little, in that world or shock and scare.
KATHY: And panic and…yeah.
TODD: And then you have to get it in your head, so that you can do what you’re doing, “Okay, even though I am in this world of chaos, I have got to figure out how to navigate through this and do the right things and make the right choices.” It’s not easy. Like we said, it’s mentally and physically disabling.
KATHY: It is. It really is. And, like you said, you finally have to make a choice whether you are going to live or whether you’re not going to live.
TODD: Or survive it.
KATHY: And to survive.
TODD: I hope that anybody out there that’s got a missing family member, they listen to this and understand that it is important. You do have to go to law enforcement and make a valid report. You have to ask to please include it in the FBI NCIC and get the NCIC number. You have to follow up with, “I want the DNA in the National DNA Database. I want that.” It will be in this episode, it will be in the archives, the information of how to do that, and you have to keep calling.
KATHY: Then you have CODIS.
TODD: CODIS, if there are fingerprints available. A lot of people have the DNA fingerprint kit, everything.
KATHY: Right. And that’s another thing that’s important, you know a lot of people only think about getting ID kits on their children…
TODD: uh huh
KATHY: …but I look at it like this, if you have someone who loves you, then you should have an ID kit on yourself.
TODD: Absolutely. And a lot of us don’t do that, you know there’s…you know, even myself, I think, “I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done.” You know, I think I want my parents’ fingerprints because, unless I’ve done…committed a crime, my fingerprints are not on file.
TODD: Therefore not available.
KATHY: That’s right. And it’s a horrible experience. I remember after Jennifer and Adrianna had been missing for…I don’t know, I guess it was about 2 months of them being missing, I had a detective knock on my door one day and he was there to ask me to try to collect some things that might have the girls’ DNA on it, and that was just horrible. It was just horrible. I was pulling hairs off of teddybears and it was just a frightening, terrible feeling to have to do that and I look back on it now and I think, “Wow, if I would have had an ID kit, I could have just give it to the detective.
TODD: You could have handed it over it over to him and spared yourself a lot of grief.
KATHY: A lot of grief. A lot of grief, because he just told me he needed it and left me, he left me alone to collect it and so here I go with my little baggies and tweezers.
TODD: So now we need all of our listeners out here in Tennessee or wherever, to think of this, you need to do that, with the adults, everybody. This is a perfect example. You don’t want to wait.
KATHY: No, you don’t want to wait. You want to do it, and you know, my husband and myself have one now because I don’t want him to have to go through that if something happens to me.
TODD: Well it saves you a lot of grief. If there’s anyway to prepare for something like this, and there’s no way to make it any easier on yourself mentally and physically, but that point where you’re not really clearing thinking, to have all this stuff there where you can just pick it up and hand it over.
KATHY: That’s right. And it also helps to get that DNA in faster and you’ll have an exact DNA for the National Database.
TODD: Because you always hear, time is essential in a case like this, time is essential, and it is important to do that.
KATHY: It is very important.
TODD: Now we’re coming to the most dreaded question of the evening; for some people it’s an opportunity. I want to ask you, what would you say to Jennifer if you could talk to her, alive or dead, whatever, if she could hear you spiritually or through her own ears, what do you want to say to your girls? I know it ain’t easy but we need to pass this message along.
KATHY: Yes. I would say to Jennifer, that I love you with all my heart, unconditionally. There’s nothing that has ever happened and nothing that can ever happen that will change how I love you and how I feel about you. You taught me love, Jennifer, when I first held you in my arms, and you connected and knew about that love when we stood there and you gave birth to Adrianna. I love her as a part of you and I love you more than anything on God’s green earth. I would give anything to see you again. If I could see you one more time and die tomorrow, it would be fine with me, as long as I could see you one more time and have the opportunity to hear your voice, feel your touch, and tell you how much you mean to me again. That’s what I want you to know and I just want you to know, if you’re out there, you can come home, you can call home, and if you don’t want to come home, just call and let us know you’re okay. And if that’s impossible, and it’s not God’s will to bring you home, then just know how much I love you and I’ll see you again one day.
TODD: No strings attached, right?
KATHY: No strings attached. None. None. The only string that’s attached is the love that I’ll always feel. Nothing will change that. I’ll always love her. It doesn’t matter if she was out there and didn’t want to come home, that won’t change me. That won’t change the fact that I love her, but I’ll be able to sleep better knowing that she’s okay.
TODD: Well, from your mouth to God’s ears…I hope, I hope that something changes for you. You’ve made an incredible effort. You’ve worked to help other people. You know, everything happens for a reason.
TODD: You know that?
KATHY: Yeah. I do know that and my daughter’s life won’t be in vain.
TODD: You’re not going to let it be.
KATHY: No, I won’t let it be. Whatever she’s gone through, whatever it is that she’s gone through, I’m going to make it a purpose and a reason for it, and try to change things because that’s the kind of person Jennifer is, she would want that to happen.
TODD: Now, that’s why I admire a person like you, you know, I can’t speak from personal experience, but you have. To me, knowing that you have went through this, and you are willing to do whatever you can to spare me from having to go through the same thing, me and everybody else.
KATHY: Yeah, I don’t want anybody to go through this.
TODD: Well, that’s an incredible offer and I don’t think it’s really ever fully appreciated until somebody actually falls in the middle of it and then, and only then, will they really know what it takes to have to go through this type of thing.
KATHY: If I, you know if I could have 3 wishes, they would be for Jennifer to come home, for Adrianna to come home, and my third wish would be for no one ever, ever again, to ever have to know what this feels like.
TODD: Well, if…not everybody is able to overcome it like you have. I mean I know you’ve not overcome it, but to function as you have.
TODD: It’s not within everybody’s nature to be able to do that.
KATHY: No it’s not.
TODD: I’ve talked to family members that are not okay anymore.
TODD: And you know I have this…they’re telling me a story, and you just feel so bad for them because they’re not making any sense, they’re completely destroyed.
KATHY: Just lost. Yes, destroyed, lost and it’s true and I know what those folks feel like because I’ve been there and somehow or another, managed to pick myself up, and I think it’s through the strength that Jennifer gives me. I think she still gives me strength, she always has since she came in the world and she still does, and through the strength that I draw from her, is the reason I was able to pick myself up and keep going because I knew, I know that I have to do it for her. She’s not here to fight for herself, so I have to be strong enough to fight for her, and not only that, if she is alive and well, and if she does come home some day, I want to be here.
TODD: Yeah. You want to be here to see that happen.
TODD: No matter what you hear, no matter how your girls come home, if it’s for the best or for the worst, at least it’s going to be some closure and you want to be there for that.
KATHY: Right. I sure do. And if somebody harmed them, I want to be here to see justice served
TODD: You’d have another whole fight on your hands then.
KATHY: That’s right. A whole ‘nother fight.
TODD: And that’s a fight that you want to be ready to do. I don’t want you to ever lose your focus because you’ve got an incredible focus on your goals; you’ve helped lead other people to goals. I think that’s only going to strengthen you to keep doing that. You know it well.
KATHY: Thank you Todd.
TODD: You have. You’ve done an incredible amount of work in a very short period of time. I’ve seen people that’s had family member missing for decades, and I hope it’s not that long for you, I hope it’s not that long for anybody ever again, but you already know the reality and I’m hoping to meet you really soon.
TODD: You’re not very far away.
KATHY: No, we’re not far away from each other so hopefully we can meet soon. I wish it could be under better circumstances but I feel like there are lots of things that you and I can do together to help bring about some good change.
TODD: I think we can. I really think we can, especially here. We need it in Tennessee. We want to be the best; we’re the volunteer state.
KATHY: That’s right. That’s right, so…
TODD: We want them all to be the best but, I mean, right here in our home state, you know this is what directly affects our children and our grandchildren.
TODD: And we’ve got to see it through. We have got to see something positive happen where, at least, we’ll know that the best effort has been put forth, not by just us, not by just the people, but by the state law enforcement, there’s nothing holding us back.
KATHY: No, there’s not, and I think that if you put a couple of good, strong, determined people behind it and anything’s possible, and I think that it’s something that we can see fruit from.
TODD: Oh, we will. I think we will. I do not want to be in your shoes and I’m going to work hard not to be in your shoes, I’ll tell you that much. I do not want to trade places with you so I’ve got a selfish goal; I don’t want to be you.
KATHY: No. No you don’t.
TODD: And I don’t want anybody else to every be you again, so we’ll work to see that happen. I appreciate you being here with me tonight and talking and sharing you story, and your pain and your joys with the people tonight. It will make a difference.
KATHY: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you and I thank you for doing what you’re doing to help all of us that are going through this. What you are doing is what we need.
TODD: Well, we keep trying. It’s low-tech, but it’s working Hey, that’s it, it’s not costing anybody any money, just a few dollars, it’s not much at all. It’s not much at all, you know the cost of a call, it’s really not that big a deal and, you know time, time we can’t ever account for time, but it beats bowling, don’t it?
KATHY: Yeah, it does beat bowling.
TODD: But we’re getting more done.
KATHY: That’s right, we’re getting more done. It’s worth it.
TODD: I could waste my time doing a lot of things, but at least I know, this time, I’m not wasting my time. We’re making progress.
KATHY: That’s right, you’re not. You’re making a difference and that’s what counts and we just need to get a lot of people feeling the same way and maybe we can make a difference and diminish some of those staggering numbers that you spoke of. The more people who get involved, the more the numbers will go down.
TODD: There's happy chores in this cause that we're working on. I mean, it's not all just the sad things. It's the things that we're able to prevent, those are the good things.
KATHY: That's right.
TODD: You can walk away, volunteering in this kind of world and feel good at night when you go to bed. You're going to have to go to bed with; you know? These sad thoughts. You got to keep the positive thoughts in mind and I think a lot of people try to avoid it because they don't want to get involved in the pain. You can go to bed feeling like "Maybe I helped prevent something."
KATHY: They need help, that's right. And maybe you made a difference. By teaching someone something, you might have prevented them from having to experience the pain.
TODD: I think we can work on that. Well it's been great having you here. I wish you the best and I will be in touch with you and we will have you back.
KATHY: All right Todd, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity.
TODD: Thank you. Talk to you soon.
KATHY: All right.
If you have any information on this case
Please use click this link below: