My post today has nothing to do with financial advice or tips to improve your life. It has everything to do with two children who can no longer ride their bikes, go to school, be with their families, or grow into adults.
Earlier this summer, two cousins went missing in Evansdale, IA. Today, it was confirmed that their remains were found in nearby woods.
It's not every day that murder rocks your community. At least not in Iowa. And most definitely not to children so young (8 and 10).
It's weird to be in Cedar Rapids, 60 miles away, and feel the sadness of this situation. But I lived in Cedar Falls/Waterloo for 8 years and Evansdale practically merges into Waterloo. All three cities are in Black Hawk County, a place I called home for a long time.
My connection to the area is still deep and I return routinely to meet with old friends. I still teach in Waterloo and my students are all locals. I can't count how many times I drive past Evansdale on Hwy 20 in a given year.
I was in Waterloo this summer when this all started. My students and I talked about it - there was a huge sense of community. People were concerned, wanted to help. One of my students was an officer with the Evansdale Police Department. Naturally they couldn't say anything, but it was clear long nights were being logged.
The search for the girls remained strong as the weeks marched on. Fliers are posted at every gas station and grocery store I frequent, even in Cedar Rapids. Awareness for the case has been everywhere.
I was in Waterloo last night when the first press conference announced the find. And I sit here now, from the safety of my desk, thinking about this morning's confirmation.
I can't shake this intangible feeling I have today. Is it shock? Is it a mixture of sadness and anger? A taste of grief? I can't tell. This is the first time I've had even a remote connection with a tragedy like this. All I can tell is that when something like this happens in your town, the reverberations are profound.
This isn't a crime happening in a big city far away. You're not blaming the victims for doing something that led to their demise. It's not a stranger's kids, someone else's family.
A community coming together in unity often generates a sense of ownership. Those are our girls. And this is what makes everything about this situation feel personal.
The scarier thought is who is responsible and why? If there's a concrete suspect, the police haven't said anything and the tip lines are still open. You shudder to think that someone in your community could have done the deed (assuming it's someone local). That someone who you could have seen at the grocery store, walked past at the gas station, would do something so terrible.
It's easy to read a detective novel or watch a crime movie and never feel a connection with the victims - they're just a plot element. You focus on the police officer, the private investigative, the inner workings of a killer's mind in those stories.
But this isn't a story. These victims are real. Someone murdered two kids in a small town and no one knows why.
I can't help but think how long those two were actually alive after they were kidnapped. Did they suffer or was it over mercifully? You don't want to think of the horror anyone, much less children, much less young girls, could experience in a situation like this. My mind nonetheless is nawing on those possbilities.
Until the full details come to light, it is a crime of randomness. No obvious rhythm or reason. Just bad luck, to put it plainly. I suppose that's what hits people the hardest - there's nothing and no one to blame. All these negative emotions and no one to take them out on.
There's no moral of the story here. No safety tips or preventive measure to pass on. Only a profound sense of disgust that the lives of two kids were deliberately stolen.