OLYMPIA - About 365 red balloons bearing heartfelt messages were released Saturday above Capitol Lake, a balloon for each day that an 11-year-old McCleary girl named Lindsey Baum has been missing.
Saturday’s event, Lindsey’s Day of Hope and Awareness, was a gathering to support not only Lindsey’s families but all families with missing children. Friends and family of Nancy Moyer, the Tenino woman who disappeared 15 months ago, also participated, as did Theresa Lewis of Tacoma, the mother of Teekah Lewis, who disappeared at a Tacoma arcade bowling alley in January 1999.
Teekah turns 14 on July 4, she said.
“I told her I would be right back,” Theresa recalled about that night. She next remembers seeing her daughter in the arcade, and then she was gone. Lewis was one of the guest speakers Saturday at Heritage Park; others were Melissa Baum, Lindsey’s mother, and Bev Poston, Nancy Moyer’s longtime friend and co-worker.
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Baum thanked everyone who attended – about 200 people throughout the day – and said she hoped the rally would bring attention to all missing children and adults.
“She needs to come home,” Baum told the audience.
Poston worked with Moyer for 10 years at the state Department of Ecology. Poston told the crowd that before Moyer disappeared, she told Poston she was happy, was blessed to have good friends and that life was going well. Since, Poston has been among a group of volunteers who have participated in about two dozen search-and-rescue efforts and also have held fundraisers to help raise about $8,000 in college money for Moyer’s children. Vicki Cline, who also works at Ecology and knew Moyer, also was there. On her red balloon, she wrote, “Come home Lindsey.”
Lewis told the audience that her heart goes out to everyone who has a missing child.
“Teekah was my world, my everything. That person stole my heart from me,” she said about Teekah’s abductor. “Life is so empty without her.”
The event was not without hope. Also speaking were Kerensa Thomas and her 13-year-old son Apollo, of Hoquiam. Thomas told a story about how her special-needs son avoided being abducted last Tuesday afternoon. At the time, both Thomas and Apollo were in their garden when she suddenly heard her son’s distressed voice and saw him being forced down the street by another man. Thomas yelled at Apollo to get away from the man, and he used an evasive maneuver to free himself and run back to the house.
Apollo’s would-be abductor later was identified as 46-year-old Michael Hickman, a Hoquiam man with a history of mental health problems. Thomas urged those in the audience to familiarize themselves with the legal process, particularly civil commitment hearings, which few people understand are open to the public, she said.
“Terrifying isn’t the word,” she said about seeing her son forced down the sidewalk. “There is no word for that.”