Hope of a Father

March 26th, 2009

father-and-childI’ve not checked with the father of the victim for permission to tell this story so I will change the names and places in order to protect their family. But the story needs to be told because it exemplifies the Hope of a father in saving his daughter.

It was early in the year when I was working the midnight shift. A call came in asking me to call a sheriff in another state about 15 hours away regarding a missing person. I placed the call and spoke with a sheriff who related the following story: At about 11 p.m. a man and his wife returned home to find that their troubled adopted 14 year old daughter was missing. They were obviously terrified not knowing where she had gone. They knew that she had probably run away and the prospects of her being out on her own at that tender age left them nearly blind with fright. Without hope, they would have sat there and done nothing. They hoped they could find her, get her back, save her and love her again. Rather than do nothing, which is what the post yesterday talked of, they hoped and took action.

The went to her room and went through all they could find. In her trash can they found small torn-up pieces of paper. They pieced it back together and found the name “Ray” and three numbers “215″. It could have been anything. But, the father took to the streets of their town with a phone book in hand and began going motel to motel. He contacted police and they responded to take a report. The father began to think of room numbers, license plates, route numbers and area codes. He thought of as many things he could which might tell him what this “Ray” and “215″ might mean.

Believe it or not, after hours of searching he found a hotel that confirmed that they had had a man named Raymond who registered using a Pennsylvania telephone number that began with 215. He phone the sheriff and the pursuit was on. The hotel cooperated after learning the story and provided the credit card information, home address for Raymond, vehicle description and license plate number. They also provided the personal information the Raymond.

Raymond turned out to be a 52 year old man who had driven three states away, encouraged a young impressionable girl to run away, carefully helped her pick her time and provided the means for her to run away. He became her knight in shining armor and he promised her love and caring. She wanted it and he capitalized on it. He took advantage.

We were able to track his progress across the states back to Pennsylvania through credit card purchases and the cooperation of the credit card company. Unfortunately by the time we learned all this information, He had already made it back to PA and it was the middle of the night here. We assaulted the Raymond’s house in the middle of the night, fearing for the young girls safety, and we found her in his bed. He was arrested and transported to jail.

All the while we had kept her father posted. He believed. He hoped. He never gave up and knew that she would be found. He was terrified along with his wife but he took action. He did SOMETHING. he didn’t know what to do with “Ray” and “215″, but he started. Like Edison who failed more than 2,000 when trying to make the light bulb, he believed that if he took the wrong avenue, at least he could save someone else the trouble of going down that road. He explored some things that weren’t correct, but I believe because of the Lords hand upon this situation, he was led in the right direction and found his missing daughter; all because of a tiny torn up note that seemed to make no sense. That’s hope in action.

Take the tiny torn up pieces of your life’s circumstances and do something. Hope calls us to action. This father Hoped and found the strength to find his daughter. I saw him more than a year later. I picked him, his wife and their daughter up at the airport after they flew in for the trial. I expressed my respect and admiration for what he had done and could see that their family had come a long way from where it had been a year ago. Their daughter was still spirited but showed a much more child-like attitude and loving, trusting, caring concern and love for her mom and dad. Truly they had grown because of this terrible situation, all because of a father’s hope.

Note: Raymond was sentenced to up to 42 years in prison.

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