Lavinda CounceIf one lives to be ninety years old and is still able to drive oneself to the wellness center to workout with others in the local Silver Sneakers group, then home should be a sanctuary and a place of rest and refreshment after the workout.  And it was, until Friday, July 3, 2015.

Did someone lie in wait for the ninety-year-old lady?  The family thought she was going to one of the local hospitals to visit a sick friend.  She didn’t come home when expected and family, with loving concern, began hunting for her, contacted the police to put out a silver alert for her, but she didn’t come home that night.  On Saturday, the 4th of July, while the rest of the country picnicked, shot fireworks,  played at a lake or otherwise took advantage of the holiday weekend, friends and neighbors were working with the police to try to find the lady missing from our town of  1,809 people.

Her car was found at a local hospital parking lot and when security tapes were reviewed the police saw a man getting out of the car and leaving.  The missing lady was not in the car.  It was announced on the news that the police believed she had been abducted.  Her purse was in the trunk of the car but there was no sign of the lady it belonged to and all my friends know that “where a lady’s purse is, there shall her body also be” at least it will unless she was separated from the purse forcibly.

Search crews were formed and sections assigned to the searchers.  Each day these dedicated, big-hearted friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers started out from our local police station to look some more. Others who wanted to help but couldn’t physically hunt for one reason or another sent food and bottled water, Gatorade and other things to help those who could put feet on the ground. This continued for eight days.  Count them, eight long days, and on the ninth day a searcher found the remains of a good, friendly, well-liked ninety-year-old woman who had, as far as anyone knows, never hurt another human being.  Where, you ask?  Dumped in a cornfield west of the little town she lived in most of her 90 years.  One of those intrepid searchers found her. God bless the searchers.

What has this done to our town?  It seems to have pulled us together and cemented us as a team of neighbors who care for one another.  Perhaps we have always been this but just needed some tragedy to show us who we are.  Turns out we are a loving, caring, giving, helping bunch of people all living together in a small area.

But you know what else it has done to our town? It has terrorized us.  Yes, I see those remarks on Facebook.  Like this remark, “I am not supposed to judge, but in my soul I have already convicted this person who has taken it upon himself to shatter our sense of security and take this loved one from us.”

Someone else posted, “In Bay, I have felt it was the best of both worlds. We are country but close to a bigger town. Just goes to show, evil is everywhere…. breaks my heart and shakes all of our foundations.”

One of my neighbors said, “Not only did this monster take her from us, they also took our sense of security.”

I’m reading of how people are jumpy just hearing the dog bark and wondering what or who the dog hears.  Doors are locked and all security is taken even by those who used to be very casual about locking doors.  There is evil on the loose in our town and no one is comfortable or will be until the evil is found and caged.

It is that loss of serenity, security, and casualness that has been taken from our town by someone evil.  That, in its simplest form, is terror.  It makes me sad, and yes, it makes me mad too. My prayers have switched from asking for Mrs. Lavinda Counce to be found to praying that the perpetrator will be found and justice will be swift and sure. And all of us are asking God to bless this family who have been through so much in the last nine days and still have so much ahead of them.  But through all that is to come they will at least have the comfort of knowing where their precious loved one is resting. Our town is now uttering many thanks for this blessing.

For those who want to follow this story you can do so at the KAIT 8 website here: