Phoebe climbed into her mother’s car at 3:05pm. “Hi mommy.”
Mary looked at her 8 year old and smiled. “Hello. How was school today hon?”
“School is always bowing. Today though so of the olda kids was on the playgwound again and that one boy scawes me.” Phoebe told her mother with her usual speech impediment.
“Didn’t you see your speech teacher today Pheebs?”
“No mommy I think she’s sick oh something.”
“Okay. I hope she’s okay. What boy scares you?” The mother asked as it finally registered what her only child had said.
“That new boy. He looks at me funny and I heawd him whispa he was going to get me mommy.”
“Well just try not to let it bother you honey.”
“Okay mommy,” the child answered, already preoccupied with the toy she had left in the car when her mother had taken her to school that morning and just found on the car floor where she had dropped it.
Mother and daughter drove the rest of the way home with just idle chit-chat about what was for dinner and how Phoebe’s daddy had not had work today so he finally was able to fix that creaky part of the hallway floor while Phoebe was at school.


Mary stood in the kitchen making a salad a few days later, the conversation from the car completely forgotten. It was Thursday night, chicken night. She could smell the chicken baking in the oven, and thought it was almost time to take it out. She put the salad fixings in the bowl and placed the bowl in the refrigerator to keep the vegetables fresh while she went to tell Phoebe to wash up for dinner that Daddy would be home soon.

“Phoebe! Come inside now!” Mary yelled out the front door. She didn’t see her young child anywhere but was not too concerned. It was a small rural town after all. Everyone knew each other. She was probably just playing with her friend Agatha around the side of the house.

Mary walked out and around to the side and called again. No answer and no sign of her daughter. She was starting to get a bit worried now. Her husband was going to be home any minute. Phoebe never wandered far without asking first. Mary decided to go inside and call Agatha’s mother to see if the girls had gone down the street to play at Agatha’s house and just forgot to ask. The panic was already building however. Phoebe had never left the yard without asking before this.

Mary tried to calm herself by thinking how her baby just must have forgotten to ask because she was having so much fun. She dialed the seven digits she had memorized of her friend Shirley. “Hey Shirley, is my Phoebe over there? It’s close to supper time and I can’t seem to find her.”

“Oh did she say she was coming over here? I haven’t seen her all day. Hold on a second hon.” She turned around to Agatha sitting on the floor behind her playing with some blocks and Mary heard her ask “Have you seen Phoebe sweetie?”

“Not since her mommy took me home from school yesterday.”

Mary could hear Agatha and as the child spoke Mary’s pulse began to race. Shirley spoke again but Mary barely heard her. The thoughts were already racing. “Agatha said she hasn’t seen her today, Mary.”

Where’s my daughter?!” Mary suddenly asked, more to herself than to her friend.

“She’s probably in the yard playing or in her room and just didn’t hear you. Perhaps she fell asleep.” Shirley calmly replied.

“Thanks.” Mary said as she hung up the phone without even saying goodbye. She hurried to her child’s room and looked in. No sign of her. “Pheebs?” No answer. She checked on the other side of the bed, even looked in the closet. No Phoebe. “Stay calm Mary. She’s around here somewhere. She has to be” she told herself.

Mary searched the house. Every room. Not in the bathroom. Not in the living room. Not in the master bedroom. Not in the living room. Not in the dining room. Not in the bathroom.  Not in the kitchen. Mary headed out the front door. No Phoebe in the front yard. Not by the side of the house. Not in the back yard. “Where could she be?” Mary asked herself, in a panic now.

Just then her husband pulled up in the family car from work. Mary heard the car pull up and rushed out to meet her husband. As soon as he saw her he knew something was terribly wrong. “What’s the matter dear?”

Willard! I can’t find Phoebe anywhere!”

He pulled her close and hugged his wife’s shaking body close and whispered “Calm down, we’ll find her. Let’s go inside. Maybe she’s at Shirley’s house.”

“No I called there. She’s no where. What do we do?!”

“I’ll call Dan and ask him if he can send a deputy to look around the neighborhood. Okay hon?”

She nodded as he walked toward the phone. “Hey Dan it’s Will. Phoebe seems to have wandered…” but before he could finish speaking his wife suddenly said “Oh my god I just thought of something! She said there was a boy at school that said he was going to get her. What if he kidnapped her?!”

“What boy hon?” Willard asked calmly.

“She said it was the new kid. She must mean that Wallace kid. Willard he’s 14 and the girls were saying after church last week that they moved here because he got kicked out of school where they used to live.” She said, and at that point she lost control and started bawling.

The police chief, Dan had heard what she had said and said “I’ll be right out, see if you can calm Mary down soon in the meanwhile.”

Within a few minutes Dan arrived with three other officers. The usual questions were asked. “When did you last see Phoebe?” “What was she doing?” “Has she ever disappeared before?” And so on and so on.

By sundown the police were going door to door around the neighborhood. Dan decided that he should question the Wallace family himself. Dan rung the doorbell on the Wallace home, his fateful deputy standing silent beside him. Ms. Wallace appeared a bit nervous when she saw who was at the door. “Has my son done something wrong officer?”

“Why would you ask that Ms. Wallace? We’re here to ask you if you have seen Phoebe Smith this evening, ma’am. She’s eight years old, and was wearing a blue jumper today. She has curly brown hair, and brown eyes. She’s about this tall. Real petite little young’un.” He said holding his hand out.

“No I haven’t seen any little girls today, sorry sir.” She said as she started to close the door.

“Well can I speak to your son? Perhaps he’s seen her.”

“Oh. Okay, one minute and I’ll get him.” She said as she walked deep into the house. “Drew! Come here!” She yelled as she walked toward her sons room. Dan could hear the muffled sound of the teenager yelling back. “Just a minute mom!”

He came rushing out of the room and closing the door quickly behind him just as his mother reached his bedroom. “What mom?”

“These officers want to ask you if you’ve seen the little Smith girl.”

“I haven’t.” he said hurriedly and started to head back in his room.

His mother decided not to force the issue and walked back to the front door. “He said he hasn’t seen her.”

“Ma’am we have reason to believe he may know something about her whereabouts. I need to speak to him.”

Yes, sir. I’ll go get him.”

“May we come in ma’am? It’s getting a right bit chilly out here now that the sun is down.”

“Oh, of course officer, I apologize for my thoughtlessness.” She said as the two police men stepped into the living room of the small home. She walked back to her son’s room as she loudly said, “Drew! The officer wants to talk to you.”

Drew came out, slamming the door behind him. “Why?! I didn’t do anything!” He snapped at his mother.

The police chief witnessed this exchange and noticed the lack of response from Ms. Wallace. It appeared that this may be a common occurrence in this household. A quick look at his deputy showed him he wasn’t the only one who had noticed this. “Son,” the officer called to the teenage boy, “can you come here a minute?”

“I’m NOT your son. My father ran off with that whore back in Arkansas.” The officer glanced at the boy’s mother for her reaction, she blushed but said nothing.

“A little girl in the neighborhood is missing and there is reason to believe that you know something.”

“What reason?”

“The child told her mother a few days ago that you said you were going to get her and that you have been watching her. We know of your troubles with the law last year in Arkansas. I need you to be honest with me now boy. Do you have anything to do with Phoebe’s disappearance?”

“I wouldn’t tell you if I did.” Drew said as he stalked off to his room and slammed the door behind him so hard that the windows shook. His mother jumped but refused to look up from her shoes which became very intriguing to her during the conversation between her son and the police chief.

“Ms. Wallace, do you think your son knows anything about Phoebe? The girls mother is very frightened.”

I don’t know.” She whispered.

“Can we look in his room?”

She nodded as she spoke softly, “if you think it will help that girls mother.”


The chief rapped on the boys bedroom door. “We need to check your room for the girl, boy.” He said as he began to jostle the doorknob, finding it locked. “Open this door.”

The officer waited, and just as he was about to tell the boy again the door swung open. “Why?” the boy said rudely. “I haven’t done anything.”

“We need to look anyway, please move over.” The two officers stepped into the teenagers messy room. There was no immediate sign of the child. Dan opened the closet and shined his flashlight in as his deputy glanced under the desk but saw nothing but darkness.

“See! She’s not here. Now get out of my room!” the boy demanded.

“You will not talk to me like that young man. You need to learn some respect. Talk to me like that again and you will regret it.” Dan said then walked out of the room, his deputy following a few steps behind.

“I think you need to teach your son some manners ma’am. Good night.” The chief said as they left.

The search for the girl continued throughout the night and into the morning with no result and not a stone unturned. Not a single sign of the young child was found. A statewide alert went out all over Missouri and even a few of the northern Arkansas towns were on the lookout for this child.

Mary Smith spent the time in hysterics. She sobbed uncontrollably. Refused to eat, and hardly slept. She mumbled things about her only child from time to time, but beyond that barely spoke. Her husband, upset but brave, tried to comfort her and hold her together. The couple appeared on several local newscasts, and pleaded for helping finding their child. Photos were plastered all over southern Missouri of the missing child, some offering a large reward for her safe return.

About a week after the visit from the police, Ms. Wallace was putting some laundry away in her sons room while he was at school and noticed an odd smell. She began looking around and suddenly screamed when she saw a small foot sticking slightly out from the side of the bed that almost touched the bedroom wall. She rushed to the phone and dialed 911.

Foot! Foot!”
“What ma’am?” The operator asked.
“There’s a foot under my son’s bed!”
“A foot, ma’am?” but Ms. Wallace had passed out.

When the police, ambulance, and fire truck arrived they found Ms. Wallace crumpled on the floor with the phone dropped on the floor next to her. The police chief went into the boy’s room and found Phoebe Smith’s dead body taped to the underside of Drew Wallace’s bed. The tape holding the foot had come loose.

Within minutes two officers arrived at the school. Drew was not there. He had not been in school at all that day. The officers radioed the chief from the school. The boys mother said he had left their house just as he did every day. She had watched him walking toward the school.

Dan realized he needed to get to the Smith home and inform the parents of their child’s death before anyone else did. On his way there he radioed to get the search teams out in search for Drew.

Dan arrived at the Smith home within a few minutes and informed his friends Willard and Mary of their daughters death as gently as he could. Mary just said “No.” and from then on that was the only thing she could say. “no. no. no. no.” She mumbled it over and over again. Willard held his wife tight and cried silently as Dan told continued talking. “We already have people searching for the boy. We’ll find him and he will pay for what he did.”

Everyone who had searched for the young girl searched for her killer. Weeks passed, the story appeared on local news broadcasts throughout the country. Months passed. Mary was committed. The day Phoebe went missing Mary had begun to die inside. At the moment Dan informed her of her only child’s death Mary’s spirit died. She was only a shell of a person. Ten weeks after Mary was admitted into the hospital she hung herself with her jeans.

Drew Wallace was never found…

 


This entry into the 2004 Halloween Quest is loosely based on a true story.

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