by Todd Blumhorst
I can’t walk another step on this path. I am not sure how much more I can bear. We will never find answers. If you are a long term cold case homicide or missing persons survivor, then you have probably said one of these phrases or something very similar in your head on many occasions. The weight of the unknown can be a perilous path to walk and defeat is forever brooding over your head. The unknown is always there of your waking moments, jabbing you in the side to constantly reminding you of its presence.
I can relate to that constant reminder in the case of my missing sister. I have had to live in the unknown for 22 years now; that is over half of my life. I have had to do a lot of self-advocacy for our family due to many factors with the law enforcement agency in charge of her case. There have been many times when the cards were stacked against me in my continuing search for answers. There were many times when I wanted to just give up and stop looking for answers. Many nights I would toss and turn in bed wondering how much more would be added to my plate. People have often told me that God trusts us and only gives us what we can handle; I really wish God didn’t trust me so much if this is the case. How does one go forward when faced with mountainous obstacles placed before them to obtain case resolution? When you are the survivor of a long term case where either the killer and or the remains of your loved one remain unknown it becomes difficult to “move on” with your life. The thought of going forward is a terrifying concept for our brains to manage and process.
In my situation, finding a stable grounding was the first hurdle to overcome. I was 16 when she left us and I was already dealing with teen problems and then one huge adult problem was placed in all of our laps. We never imagined having to live this nightmare and my parents did a great job of keeping me on track even though they were blinded by grief. After a while, Veronica wasn’t really brought up around the house and this upset me to no end. I would try to talk about her but the grimaces I would get when she was mentioned gave me the feeling that I was imposing too much on people around me.
As the years passed, I grew older and became involved in a long term relationship; I had hope for some sort of salvation by being able to talk to my partner about Veronica. It soon became evident quickly that he didn’t want to listen to me about my sister either and was asked to not discuss her death with him because it made him feel uncomfortable. I felt lost and didn’t know what to do next because her case had grown cold by this point and no one seemed to care. In hindsight, it’s not that people didn’t care- it was that the pain was so deep that it instilled actual fear in the people of our community. It was when I moved to Tucson where relief came and I found Homicide Survivors. I was finally able to tell my story uninterrupted.
After some time of working on my own grief, I gathered the strength to push for answers in her case. It was out of sheer love for my sister and a sense of justice that propelled me further down the path. It has always been an uphill battle in her case but I always kept the main goal in mind: find her body and advocate for justice for her. Earlier this year I decided that since her case was no longer active I would need to reignite the case with a search. I secured a private organization that performs canine searches for human remains who agreed to assist us in a search. I directed them to a couple of areas we have always suspected to be a potential burial site. We went to the first location and it was quickly determined there were no human remains present; it seemed that another hurdle had been placed before me. We then went to the second site which was quite larger and got two hits within 30 minutes, hope was ignited again that she would soon be found. We are in another holding pattern presently while the leaves and ground in the area dry up and the team can arrange a grid search with more dogs. Hopefully this part of the path is upon us and we start down the path to justice for Veronica.
It is important to me to obtain justice for Veronica; just as you do in your individual cases I am certain. In those moments when doubt creeps into your mind and you feel justice will never come, take a few deep breaths and realize that you can only do your best and much of the situation is out of your control. The love you had for them will be your driver in seeking justice, but don’t beat yourself up should you encounter obstacles. What I have learned in this continuing journey is that our loved ones hear us and they know we are trying to balance the scales of justice. I may not get discovery of her remains or justice, but I keep moving forward and trying to reach that goal and my love for her will sustain me on this journey.