My Daughter Went Missing For Twelve Hours

Michelle Jaqua

As a mother of an adult woman, I thought the worst

My daughter is 32 years old. She’s a beautiful, successful young woman with a huge heart.

I'll call her Jackie.

Jackie got married this year to her husband Joe, and has been struggling with some relationship problems. Considering she was raised in dysfunctional and abusive relationships growing up, it’s not surprising she’s navigating through her own painful relationship.

Yesterday afternoon she texted me and asked if she could stay overnight at our house. She wasn’t sure she wanted to stay married. Although she hasn’t talked to me about her relationship problems, I know she hasn’t liked how she’s been treated recently and had a lot of thinking to do.

I spoke with her by text at 4:30 pm, letting her know she could come to stay with us for the night.

Jackie works a lot, and it’s usual for her to be at work until 7–8 pm, so I wasn’t concerned when I hadn’t heard from her a couple of hours later. However, at 7 pm, I was wondering where she was, so I texted her.

Both of us have iPhones, so her text messages are in blue. However, my text to her lit up green. That meant her phone was off.

That was unusual.

I gave her a call, and it went straight to voicemail. I wasn’t worried, I thought maybe her phone had died. It happens.

When 8:30 rolled around, I called again. I followed it up with a text message, which was still green. I started becoming concerned, but I hesitated. I try not to intrude on my daughter’s life. Her strong personality coupled with her way of doing her life doesn’t warrant my opinions.

At this point, I figured she decided not to come over and instead went home to her husband. My neck hairs were starting to rise, though. I broke down and called her husband.

I like her husband; he’s quiet but polite. He hasn’t ever shown me anything to be worried about. But lately, Jackie has been complaining of his temper and meanness.

I decided to call her husband. “Is Jackie there?” I asked him, “I’ve been texting her, but her phone is off.”

“I thought she was at your house,” he said to me.

I felt a twinge of panic pull at my heart.

“Um, she’s not here,” I said, “Could she be at a friend’s house?” My brain went through any other places she could possibly be.

“I’ll start calling her friends,” he said. We hung up.

Around 10:30 pm, he let me know none of her friends had seen or talked to her. He told me that Wendy, her best friend, last spoke to her around 4 pm.

“She turned her phone off, so I can’t track where her car is,” he texted.

“Where could she go?” I texted back. “I’m very worried about her.”

“Yeah, this isn’t like her,” he responded.

“Would she go to a hotel?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “But she would go to a bar.”

With that statement, my mind went down a rabbit hole of fear for my daughter’s life.

Jackie is gorgeous, and I’ve seen how men act around her; they lose their minds. Men have preyed upon her, and she’s had her fair share of scary close calls with them.

Thinking about going to a bar after work and then go missing later that night left me in a panic.

It didn’t help that I’d seen a recent video about some scary stuff in our local area; men hanging out at local grocery stores, stalking women in the parking lots. It was apparent these men were up to no good.

In the video, the stores mentioned are ones in my daughter’s neighborhood. Could Jackie have stopped at the store before going home? Could she have been stopped by a stranger and gotten herself into a bad, even deadly situation?

It was getting late, and I’d exhausted all my resources to find my daughter. I had a medical procedure scheduled for the following day. I held out hope that she’d turned off her phone, or it went dead, and she wasn’t able to charge the battery.

I nodded off to sleep around midnight.

I was wide awake at 3:15 am. I knew I couldn’t do anything to find Jackie, but my mind was on fire with the possibilities of her whereabouts. And my mind went to some of the darkest places.

I started to wonder if her husband had lied to me. I mean, the “tracking her car” comment gave me a weird feeling. I relied on his information about contacting her friends. And his mention of her going to a bar and disappearing after that was a scary thing to suggest. The news at the time was circulating about Gabby Petito, which only amped up my suspicions.

Maybe Jackie had gone home after all.

By 7 am, I called her friend, Wendy. I left a desperate message, kicking myself that I hadn't called her last night to confirm what Joe said.

Wendy called me back.

“Did Joe call you last night about Jackie?” I asked.

“Yeah, he did,” she said. Still, I realized that didn’t mean anything. Of course, he could call her friends and ask around about her.

“I’ll call and text her again,” Wendy said. I was beside myself. I'd be undergoing my procedure at 8 am; the same time Jackie started work. I decided if she didn’t show up for work, I was going to call the police.

“Honey,” I said to my husband as we were getting into the car to go to my appointment, “can you call Jackie’s work at 8 o’clock and find out if she made it to work?”

“Yes, of course,” he said. We started our commute.

About ten minutes into our drive, I got a call. It was my daughter, Jackie.

“Hi Mom, I’m okay,” she said.

Wendy had finally gotten hold of her and told her to call me.

Upon hearing Jackie’s voice, my fear, worry, anxiety, and dark images left my body all at once. I started crying uncontrollably. As I was sobbing, she was trying to console me over the phone.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I went to my (female) coworker’s house last night and stayed there. I turned off my phone because I needed some peace. I’m sorry, I should have called you,” she said.

I was only grateful that my daughter wasn’t dead. Thank God.

I was lucky. My daughter was fine, but I know that many parents don’t get the same news.

I experienced a short amount of time for my child to go missing and the helplessness that comes with it. I cannot fathom how I’d live with that chronic fear and anxiety over days, months, or even years. My soul goes out to those parents who’ve lost their child. It doesn't get easier when they become adults.

And that twelve hours of anguish is something I never want to experience, ever again.

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Michelle Jaqua is a freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Oregon. She writes about a variety of news and happenings in the Pacific Northwest, along with some PNW history and fun facts. Subscribe to her page and get her posts in your email.

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