Jaycee’s mother asks for closure
The abduction of a South Shore girl remains a puzzle 10 years later. The FBI has processed thousands of leads but none to any avail. The girl’s mother pleaded for closure to the case Sunday, the anniversary of the kidnap of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard.
“I can’t imagine 10 years … the reality of having to deal with that,” said Terry Probyn, 42. “It is still as overwhelming as the day it happened.
“The person that did this, please give the gift of resolving this. I’m asking that you share. That you find it in your soul to give a gift. It’s like a puzzle but you never know when you’re going to get to finish the puzzle. Someone out there has this piece. We need it. I need it. You need it.”
Dugard was taken on Washoan Boulevard shortly after 8 a.m. as she walked to her bus stop. Her stepfather was about 200 yards away working in an open garage. He saw a gray sedan block Jaycee’s path and pull her inside. He gave chase on a bike but gave up and called 911.
Probyn said the day Jaycee was abducted she got to work at 7 a.m., exactly on time. She said she had been late three days running.
The penalty was brutal: she didn’t get to kiss her daughter goodbye the day she disappeared.
“I saw this deputy sheriff coming toward me. I thought ‘Did I forget to pay a parking ticket?'”
When the deputy told Probyn her daughter was missing, she said she burst out laughing. The truth took about six weeks to sink in.
Out of her stupor, she assisted the FBI and sheriff’s deputies in a search that gained the attention of the national media. They raised money and posters describing the crime were mailed out. They estimate 250,000 circulated in the country.
But the leads fizzled and years passed. America’s Most Wanted, a television show that reports crime stories and requests tips from the public, showed up for a five-year anniversary ceremony. They told the story of how the blonde-haired girl who loved the outdoors and Tahoe was still missing.
As part of the ceremony, the city of South Lake Tahoe honored Dugard with a memorial. A large rock and small pine tree mark the spot. A plaque on the rock written by her mother reads: “As God forever embraces you in His love, I will forever cherish you in my heart.”
Sunday the tree had pink balloons and pink ribbons tied to it. Pink was Dugard’s favorite color. She was last seen wearing a pink pants and pink top.
On a stage near the tree, Probyn pleaded for closure to the case in front of a few hundred people who had paraded on bikes and on foot down a single lane of U.S. Highway 50 as part of the Jaycee Lee Dugard Pink Ribbon Parade.
Probyn also took time during the ceremony to remember Krystal Steadman, a 9-year-old kidnapped and murdered at an apartment on Kahle Drive in March 2000. Steadman and Dugard were both students at Meyers Elementary School.
Probyn spoke for Krystal’s sister, Sonya Klempner, who was present along with four of Krystal’s close friends. Klempner and her boyfriend clutched large glass-framed collages filled with images of Krystal.
Probyn read Sonya’s words from the stage: “Please always keep lines of communication with friends and family. Cherish each moment we spend with each other. You never think it’s going to happen to you, but it does. Take all the pictures you can as often as you can.”
Soroptimist International, a woman’s service club, organized the parade. They did it to remember Dugard and to emphasize that good came from bad when Probyn donated $3,000 of money to start a program called, A Fighting Chance. The money had been raised to aid in the search for her daughter.
The program was created and is now copyrighted by Soroptimist. It teaches children defensive techniques to use if they are abducted. The program has been around for about four years and it continues to expand.
Volunteers teach the techniques to children in Grades 3 through 6. Sunday The Soroptimists showed off a car they just added to their education arsenal. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department donated the car as a hands-on prevention lab for sixth-graders.
Children will be taught how to draw attention to a vehicle they might be trapped in. For example, they teach children how to disable a tail light. That way, if they are ever locked in the trunk of a car, law enforcement will be able to stop and question a suspect driver.
“These kids come alive … when they learn they don’t have to do what an adult tells them to do all the time,” said Wendy Shehadi, a member of Soroptimist International since 1972. “If they’re in a grocery store we tell them to knock items off the shelf … anything they can do. We know that during the first few hours after their abduction the chances are much greater to escape.”
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