By: Amy Schmidlap
“Lillian! Dinner’s ready, come inside!” Another ten seconds later, Jennifer heard no reply and she started worrying slightly. “Lillian, it’s cold and snowing out there, if you don’t come in now, you’ll freeze!” Still no reply. It was as silent as ever outside on that snowy day. Jennifer was worrying more and more by the second. The only thing that she could hear was the sound of the freezing cold winds. Lillian was Jennifer’s only child and she was only six but most of the time she knew better not to stay outside too long. Jennifer became increasingly nervous and she said something once more. “Lillian, if you don’t come in here now I’ll have to take away your favorite toy from you and you don’t get my fresh baked sugar cookies either!” Once again there was no reply and Jennifer definitely was scared then.
If Lillian didn’t answer to the cookies or her favorite toy, Jennifer knew what was up. Her heart then started beating faster than ever. She suddenly got an adrenaline rush and she instantly headed straight for her violet coat and cozy boots. She put them on as fast as she could and she ran toward the back door and she went outside. It was one of the worst snowy days that Jennifer had seen. It was a Friday and Lillian was staying home that day because she didn’t have school due to the heavy amount of snow. So Jennifer almost got frustrated and almost wanted to cry.
Jennifer was a single mom to Lillian and didn’t have a husband or boyfriend. Although there was this strange man who seemed to like Jennifer in a relationship kind of way but she didn’t return those feelings. He lived almost on the other side of the city so Jennifer was for the most part relieved. She was pretty sure he didn’t know where she lived. Her husband died when Lillian was three years old due to a severe car crash when he was driving to work one morning. Jennifer was absolutely devastated because he was the man she truly loved and she hadn’t been in a relationship since then. She raised Lillian all by herself but she was completely fine with doing that. She didn’t have a job since she needed to take care of Lillian but she did whenever her husband was alive. She had a job as a secretary which she thought was a good job. She knew it was a hard choice to make but she couldn’t not see her little girl be alone.
Jennifer did decide to become a writer though after her job was gone. She could write stories very well and she also published articles and other stuff on the internet. She made less than a decent amount of money but she was fine with that. She got help from the government since she wasn’t making enough money so that helped her a bunch and she also had Medicaid for herself and her daughter. She loved her daughter more than almost anything. When she didn’t hear back from her daughter at that time she thought her world was gone. She hoped that Lillian was still at the house but she just wasn’t answering even though that wasn’t like her not to answer. Jennifer hoped and prayed she was still there. She rushed down into the backyard which was completely covered in snow. Lillian asked Jennifer if she could go out to the backyard to swing on her swingset. Jennifer said that she could but she would have to come in soon for dinner which would be at 6:30 that evening.
Lillian always asked to play outside because that’s what she liked to do. Jennifer didn’t think much of it and thought that Lillian would be fine. Jennifer kept her eye on her most of the time that evening so she didn’t know why she wasn’t there. She was making spaghetti for dinner that night which was Lillian’s favorite thing ever. Especially since her mom made it. Jennifer put a lot of love and care into the meals she made for Lillian because she wanted to see her precious child happy. Once she went outside onto the deck, she grabbed her gloves out of her left coat pocket and put them on. She almost ran down the back steps and she looked all over the backyard starting around the swingset area since that was Lillian’s favorite place to play on.
Jennifer actually did start crying at that point. She walked around out there for near around twenty minutes and she went back in the house hoping that Lillian had been hiding somewhere the whole time because she liked to play hide and seek with her. She looked everywhere inside the house and yelled “Lillian, please! If you’re in here, I want you to come down her now! Dinner is ready and if you’re secretly hiding from me somewhere, please come out! I won’t be mad.” Jennifer didn’t hear anything from Lillian and that’s whenever she started having a meltdown. She couldn’t stop crying and she could barely breathe knowing that her daughter wasn’t there. So she walked to all the houses in the neighborhood first and asked if they had seen her. They said they haven’t seen her at all but that Jennifer should start calling the police.
Jennifer agreed to calling the police too. She went inside her house, kicked off her boots, and went straight to the telephone sitting on the living room table. She picked it up, called the cops, and said in a sad tone “Yes… my six year old daughter Lillian is missing and I have no idea where she is.” Then Jennifer’s tears kept coming out more and more and she paused for a second and said “I live on 2316 Redman Avenue, and I was making dinner for her and she asked to play outside and I said she could and after I cooked dinner she was missing. Please help me find her. I’m afraid someone a-abducted her.” Then Jennifer started weeping and the dispatcher said to her “Ma’am it’s okay, the police are on their way right now. They’ll be here shortly. Would you like me to stay on the phone with you?” Jennifer could barely talk because of all of the weeping she had done. “Y-y-yes p-please.” “Okay, we’ll find your daughter for you. If you could give us a description of her the last you saw her that would be great.”
“O-okay u-um, the l-last I s-saw her she was in the h-house and then s-she asked to go in the b-backyard to p-play. I told her to come in shortly and she said “Okay mommy.” She is six years old, has light brown hair, beautiful piercing blue eyes, white skin. Oh and she has this little brown freckle underneath her right eye, also a birthmark on her right elbow near her funny bone. The last time I saw her she was wearing a purple long sleeved shirt, a long purple skirt, white stockings underneath them, a silk pink coat, gloves with cats on them, and she was wearing her heart necklace I bought her a week ago and bracelet from Kohl’s.” “Okay thank you ma’am, you’ve helped me a lot.” “Okay, are the police almost here, I’m very worried.” “Yes ma’am they’re on their way right now, it won’t be too long before they come to your house.”
After another minute, the police arrived to Jennifer’s house and then two police officers came toward her. Jennifer told them to come in since it was cold. They came in and spoke and asked her everything in detail of what happened from what she could remember. She told them from start to finish what happened. They also asked her if anyone else but she and her daughter lived there. “No nobody lives there besides my daughter, myself, and two year old cat named Munchkin. My husband died quite some time ago and it’s just the three of us now.” Jennifer tried to keep her demeanor calm and collected. She took a deep breath and started again. “So, this is exactly how the day went. This morning, I woke up at 6:00 AM from the sound of my phone ringing. I picked up the phone and I said ‘Hello?’ and then I figured out that it was my daughter’s school calling to say that school would be cancelled for the day due to a hefty amount of snow around. After the call, I got up and told Lillian that she didn’t have school for today and she smiled and went back to sleep. After that I got some rest myself and woke up at 9:00 AM to work on my publications on the computer. I finished at 10:00 AM and made breakfast for both myself and my daughter. I made pancakes which is her favorite. Around 10:30 or so, I woke her up and told her to come eat. She got out of bed, used the bathroom, and came in the kitchen. She sat down and I set her plate down. After that, she and I watched movies on Netflix for a while and then we went to Walgreen’s really quick to get some headache medicine for me. After that I got back home and she went to her room and played on her computer. A while later she asked if she could go outside and play and I told her that she could. I was making dinner while she was playing and once I was finished noticed she was gone.”
The police officers looked at each other and took note. One of them said “Alright, ma’am we are gonna try and find your little girl. Is there anyone around here that you think might have her? Any, neighbors she wandered off to or friends?” “I knocked on some people’s doors but they didn’t know anything about her disappearance. They all told me they didn’t know and they told me to call the police right away.” “Okay. Are there any ex-relationships you’ve had or people of interest?” “Well, there is this one guy who lives on the other side of town. He’s kind of a creep. I used to talk to him sometimes but haven’t talked to him in a while.” “Okay, ma’am do you know what his name is and where he lives?” “Um… I know that his names is Keith Patrick and I believe he lives on Willow Drive. I know for sure that he drives of a red car and has a black pick-up truck.” “Okay thank you very much ma’am, you have been very helpful with this investigation. We will look for her now. Would you like for a police officer to keep you company while we search for her?” “Yes, please. I can’t be alone right now.” “Okay, we’ll keep in touch.”
After they left, this thin policewoman came inside Jennifer’s house and tried to keep a conversation going on with her for a while. Anyways, after what felt like a full day, a set of three different police officers came over and said to Jennifer “Jennifer… w-we found your daughter.” “Oh my god where is she?!” “She… was found in a lake near the man’s house. She was taken to the hospital and they tried to do everything they could but she was in the water too long and didn’t make it.” Jennifer was in such disbelief. She didn’t know what to feel at that moment in time. She stood there staring at the floor in outer space and a tear rolled down her cheek. Then two more came down and the police officers said “Keith was a suspect so we brought him in and after about an hour of questioning, Keith finally admitted to killing Lillian and was brought to the prison. He confessed and gave gory details of the killing.” “T-tell me.” “Excuse me?” “Tell me! I want to know how she died. I n-NEED to know how she died.” “She was stabbed in the chest six times and then thrown into the lake.” Jennifer started sobbing. She didn’t know what to do. Her biggest nightmare came true; that she would lose her beloved child.
In the end, Jennifer got to listen to what Keith had to say in court. He said everything that happened and appeared to show no remorse. They found him to have schizophrenia which no one had known about until during the trial. So, he was found not guilty due to insanity but he was sent to psych ward and couldn’t get off that easily. Jennifer was extremely upset but knew there was nothing to do. She was glad that he wouldn’t just be roaming around freely. After months, it was hard for Jennifer to do but she learned to try and move on. There was a memorial placed for Lillian and a funeral. Jennifer couldn’t stop crying during the funeral. She lost so many days, weeks, and months with Lillian that she could have had.
Jeffersonville High School, 2016