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