Monday, January 14, 2013

Missing Person: Shattered Lives

Eight years ago today, Mike Severance disappeared.  That weekend, he was supposed to fly from Texas with his wife, child and stepson to visit his family in Maine.  He never arrived.

Twenty-four-year-old Air Force Staff Sergeant Mike Severance survived five missions in the middle east, landing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Uzbekistan.  As a C-130 crew chief, he participated in 515 sorties and 232 peacekeeping missions, accumulating 922 flying hours with a 99 percent departure reliability rating.  By all accounts, he was an outstanding airman.

Mike was much more than that.  He was a doting dad to his son, a loving father-figure to his 4-year-old stepson, a devoted son and brother and an unflappable friend.  He was generous, kind, responsible and fun-loving.  Each person I talked to about Mike Severance had a funny story to tell about him. Everyone could easily cite one or more reasons why Mike was a special part of their life.

For seven weeks--fifty interminable days--family and friends did not know Mike's whereabouts, did not know if he was alive or dead, did not know if they'd ever see him again.  It was an agonizing time for the Severance family.

To take another person's life is an abhorrent act.  It is even worse when the perpetrator conceals the body and, by doing so, magnifies the pain of everyone who cares about the deceased with the slow torture of not knowing.

Once Mike's discarded body was found, investigators arrested Wendi Davidson and charged her with his murder.  The family could now grieve and lay their Mike to rest.  They were devastated by their loss but, at least, they no longer were lost in the wilderness raging a battle between hope and dread.

I encourage you all to find a missing persons organization that you can support by volunteering time, spreading the word about the missing or sending a contribution to help them in their work.  When I attended a CUE Center for Missing Persons conference last year, I talked to a lot of families living in the limbo of not knowing what happened to one of their own.  Across the nation, many people depend on the organizations who are dedicated to helping locate the missing  and they depend on you. Let them know you appreciate their efforts and lend your support whenever you can.

I wrote about Mike Severance and his murder in my book, A Poisoned Passion.

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