The girl who didn't come back

Elizabeth Smart (left) & Brooke Wilberger (right)

Speaking of flashbulb memories, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard that Elizabeth Smart had been kidnapped, and exactly where I was when she was found. I wept when I heard both pieces of news, of course for different reasons. We were living in American Fork when she was recovered and it took them a few months to take down the MISSING billboard on I-15 with her picture on it. Every time I drove past that billboard in the meantime, it was all I could do to keep from busting into a huge smile.

I've always been intrigued by kidnapping cases. Perhaps it's because I grew up in the shadow of the Polly Klaas kidnapping. She was the same age as me and for what felt like years after her case had been resolved, I still saw her missing child posters at rest stops along I-5 on family vacations to California.

A little more than a year after Elizabeth Smart was found so miraculously in 2003, a BYU student named Brooke Wilberger was abducted in Corvallis, Oregon. After an initial media frenzy as everyone did their best to find the girl, things died down. I always remembered the case, though, and thought about Brooke from time to time.

Now, we know what happened. And unlike Elizabeth Smart, Brooke Wilberger will not be coming home. I wept for her and her family last night. I wish they could have been happy tears, like they were for Elizabeth Smart. But they're not.

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