Local realtor Beverly Carter went out to rural Scott, Arkansas late Thursday afternoon to show a house to a man who claimed to be interested in paying cash for it.
She never came back.
3 hours after the 5:30 appointment her husband went out to the house. The door was open. Her car was in the driveway. Her purse was in the car.
The Pulaski County Sheriff's office is coordinating the search for the woman. It is asking property owners to search their land for clues. Volunteers are assisting in this effort. So far as of this writing she has not been found.
Little Rock really is a small town. And everybody tends to know everybody. While I don't know Beverly Carter, it turns out I know one of her friends. They were supposed to have had lunch last Friday but cancelled. They were supposed to get together tomorrow.
"This is still very unreal to me," said the text message.
"Of course it is," I replied. "How can you possibly put your arms around this? There are no words."
That's because there is no frame of reference for something like this. Bad things happen. We all know that. And while my friend would have been shocked and grief stricken at the news that Beverly had been in a car accident or had sustained a fatal heart attack, still there is a frame of reference for that kind of bad news.
Not for this, boy. Your wife goes out to show a house, something she does every day the Lord sends. Only this time she doesn't come back. You make plans to get together with your girlfriend. Except she vanishes from Planet Earth. This is not the way things are supposed to happen.
Of course, foul play, as they say, is suspected. My friend asked me if I thought that law enforcement would get to the bottom of this. I told her that I thought that they would.
First of all, assuming that we talking about an abduction here, abduction is a very low percentage kind of crime. Because you either have to keep the victim with you or get rid of them. Either option carries with it a high risk of getting caught.
I told her that law enforcement will scour the cell phones of both her and her husband as well as any computer she used for clues about the events leading up to that trip out to Scott. The local realtors will probably put up an award for information. Guys on the local sex-offender registry will get a visit.
Somebody always knows something. Secrets never stay secrets. It is safe to assume that we are not exactly dealing with a mastermind here. And I'm betting that somewhere along the line, he made a mistake.
Whether they can connect the dots quickly enough to rescue this poor woman is another thing altogether. My friend acknowledges this.
"I'm not expecting a good outcome," she said. " I couldn't sleep last night thinking of my friend alone out in the weeds somewhere."
Which is easily the saddest thing I have read in a very long time.
Certainly we hope for the safe return of Beverly Carter to her family and friends. But experience dictates a more somber assessment of this prospect as days succeed to days.
But there is no place to find perspective in any of this for my grieving friend.
And there are no words.