I don’t normally pay attention to the actual date it is anymore, as I’m a housewife and am doing good if I remember what day of the week it is sometimes. Only holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, medical appointments, etc. (things I have to keep track of) remind me. And this. This is something I try not to think of at all, and am lucky most of the time to have that luxury, but what wakes me up in the morning every year on this particular day like a bolt of lightening. So it was this morning as my husband was preparing to leave for work. The moment my eyes opened it was like someone whispered in my ear and reminded me. I asked my husband if he knew what day it was, and he replied no, in a way that made me wonder if he thought he’d forgotten something important. I closed my eyes and barely heard myself say the words. “Today is March 23rd. Today, twenty-five years ago my brother disappeared.
I got my son up at six, and did something I don’t normally do after; I went back to bed. I slept till 9:30, which is unheard of for me. I don’t know if I thought by going back to sleep I could erase remembering, but whatever my motives might have been to protect me from this day they didn’t work. The moment I woke back up I lay there with eyes half-open and thought about it. I thought about the day I found out; odds and ends of days since that were related to it. I got out of bed so I wouldn’t have to think.
I can’t run anymore from my problems. I know that now. Running, keeping secrets, oppressing things, keeps me sick. I don’t want to be sick anymore. I want to live a full, happy life. My brother’s disappearance is one of those subjects that I don’t normally bring up in casual conversation. Usually a person has to know me for a while before I’m willing to talk about it. The reason? Even after this many years it still fills me with sadness I can’t control, and more often than not will cause me to break down and cry. Who wants to do that with just anyone? Today I want to talk about it. I suppose it’s time.
I don’t feel most people take my brother’s disappearance as seriously as they should, because he was 32 years old when it occurred. If he’d been a child the police would’ve been scampering to find him, and people in general would gasp when you tell them. Because he was an adult at the time everyone shrugs their shoulders, murmurs he was probably met with foul play; missing persons papers are filed away under ‘we’ll get to it when we can’, and people try to act concerned when they say, “That’s too bad.” This makes me want to scream, because it matters little to me how young or old he was; he’s still my brother! He was still a son to our parents who both died never knowing what happened to him. He is still a brother to my older siblings who share the pain of this loss with me. He is still our kin and we love him terribly!
I am the baby of our family by nine years. There are five siblings like stair-steps in age before me, and then nine years later I arrived. My daddy was a Union Pacific man and referred to me as the caboose. My brother, Allyn, was the last boxcar of the five. Being my older brother, I looked up to him and suppose picked up his more unconventional, character traits, whereas the others did not. I just know from as far back as my memory will allow he was the black sheep, the crazy one, the man who drove the fancy cars, flashed the cash; the man everyone was concerned about and shook their heads in disappointment over, and the man I wanted to be like. Fuck doing what’s right; I wanted to have fun like Allyn. In his short life, he lived the life of five men.
His lifestyle choices, I have no doubt, is what ultimately led to my brother’s demise. Without going into all the details of his life in this post, let me just say that my brother and father never got along, my brother always craved my fathers affection and yearned for his respect, and made grave choices in trying to get it. In my brothers mind he foolishly thought money and prestige would somehow impress my father, and went about ways of finding them down all the wrong avenues. These wrong avenues led to everything from prostitution to drug sales, and to one seedy character after another—from businessmen to bikers. My brother soon became a part of the people and things he surrounded himself with. And though I believe near the end—from what I had personally seen and the facts that had been presented to me—that he was trying to turn a corner and wanted to go the straight and narrow, I believe he knew that was impossible to do by that point, and had just reckoned within himself that the end was near. Sadly that would come to pass.
My brother left his wife and place of residence on the morning of Sunday, March 23rd, 1986. He took his young son—from a previous relationship—home after his weekend visitation, and was never seen or heard from again. These are the only facts we have about his disappearance: According to a neighbor, as my brother was leaving two men in suits stepped out of a black car and approached him on the walk. This neighbor only overheard my brother say, “Let me take my boy home first” before both my brother and the men departed in separate cars. My nephew was very young and only remembers my brother hugging him, telling him that he loved him and to never forget that, before sending my nephew into his house. According to my brother’s wife, his plans were to take my nephew home and then drop off some money at his employer’s place of business (a well-to-do businessman who was part of a questionable family that owned area restaurants, and whom had hired my brother as his right-hand-man and body guard). According to that man when questioned, my brother never made it there. His wife filed a missing person report three days later, and our family was notified after. Five weeks later his car turned up in a parking lot across the street from the restaurant of his employer with the ignition pulled out. These are the facts that our family was privy to till sometime later.
My parents at first were determined to find out what happened. While I was growing up my mother had her own country and western band, and because of that had somewhat of a following and knew many locals that owned businesses, that knew other people, and so on, and so on…My parents put out the word to these folks that they were looking for any and all information, and what they got back was a lot of scared talk from people saying they were told to mind their own business or things could happen like their business being blown up, etc. After careful thought, and taking into consideration the rest of their children and grandchildren, they decided just to let it rest and allow the police to handle it. My mother passed away two years later still pining away for my brother, with no end in sight to this mystery.
Several years after his disappearance the local paper did a story on the questionable death of a woman who overdosed, and brought up my brothers disappearance because she’d been linked to him. According to the story, this woman and her boyfriend were associates of my brother, were also the last ones to see him alive at their home, and the article insinuated that her death might somehow be related to his disappearance (as if she knew too much). It was then I made a bold move and went to his previous employers restaurant to talk to him and ask him questions. What I found was an expensively dressed, aging man who tried to play dumb when I approached him and brought up my brother. At first he claimed he didn’t know whom I was talking about. When I brought up little details about his relationship with my brother that he’d once shared with me, and told him how much my brother loved him like a father, he then had a sudden, miraculous recovery of memory. He assured me that he’d already told the police anything and everything he knew years before, and that as far as my brother’s disappearance was concerned he had no idea what happened to him. I suppose I expected that, but never expected what happened next: While making a bit of casual conversation in the hopes of warming him up to me some, I mentioned to him that sadly I didn’t have many pictures of my brother because he didn’t like to have them taken. This man—whom just minutes before when I first arrived tried to tell me he didn’t even know my brother—then took a wallet size picture out of his billfold and handed it to me. He smiled slightly, and said something to the extent of, “Here honey, you can have this.” It was a family photo of my brother with his current wife and children. What could I say? I just walked away with it.
Several days after, I received a phone call at my parent’s house where I was temporarily living. When I answered the phone the female caller on the other end called me by my birth name (a name only my family refers to me by, and most people don’t even know), without my even identifying myself. She told me she was an old friend of my brothers who’d been living out of town for some time and was back and trying to reach him. When I told her he’d been missing for several years, and then asked her how she knew it was me that answered the phone, she sounded surprised by his disappearance and then gave me some lame excuse that she would know me even over the phone just by the way my brother described me. I was quick to then tell her that my brother never talked about his family, tried to hide the fact that he even had family, and that we didn’t even meet his wife until after he disappeared. She then spouted a few trivial details about family members that he supposedly told her, and even said that she’d accompanied my brother to the hospital when my mother had one of her bouts with sickness years before. I tried to question her further on that, but she quickly made an excuse to let me go and hung up. I talked to my family later and nobody remembers his ever taking anyone with him to see my mother. It was also around that time that I spotted a dark car parked across the street with male occupants dressed in suits that never exited the vehicle. I watched them through parted shades for a bit before they finally left. To this day I don’t know if they were just Jehovah’s Witnesses and I was being paranoid, or if it was something more.
Approximately ten years after his disappearance one of my sisters had the good fortune of running into one of our then-popular, local reporters and talked her into doing a story on our brother. We gave her all the information we had, including the local story the paper had run on his disappearance possibly being related to this woman’s, questionable, overdose and she decided to put his story on the air. One sister and I refused to go public (My decision was based on the fact that I was more closely associated with bikers, prior convicts, and the like, and didn’t need to have the wrong people recognize my face in these circles). Our other siblings and father did, it aired during the ten o’ clock news, and served to reunite us with his son that we’d lost touch with. After, this same reporter promised us that she was going to dig deeper into his case and see what she could find. She gave me her card, and even wrote her personal numbers on the back so I could reach her. I didn’t have to; she notified my family not long after that the police department refused to cooperate with her, and in fact told her that this was a case she should not involve herself in, point blank. It was then I took it upon myself to talk to them personally.
I called first and set up an appointment with the lieutenant that was in charge of the case. When my sister and I arrived he escorted us to a private room, and sat us down to talk behind closed doors. This visit with him proved to be very enlightening. I won’t go into all the details of what he shared with us, but the just of it was that they knew our brother had been killed, people that divulged this information refused to come forward any further and/or give any names, the people they thought that might be of interes they were looking for they couldn’t find, and that we needed to stop poking around because we were in way over our heads. This last thing he said, he stressed very matter-of-fact.
I thought upon leaving that room that this was the best we were going to be able to do, till an officer who recognized me as a friend of his moms approached me. He pulled me aside, told me that he knew something important was going on behind closed doors—although he didn’t know what, other than it had to do with my brother’s case—and told me that although they kept a closed-lid on it for the most part, they were known to work with a local psychic on missing persons cases and homicides, and asked if I wanted her to phone me. I admit I was desperate at that point and grasping at any straws that might be available. I told him of course I did, and went home to wait for her call. My family was less than enthusiastic about my intending on talking to a psychic when they found out. I come from a Christian family, and anything that has to do with psychics, astrology, etc. is more than frowned upon; it’s completely taboo. They warned me against it, but in my determination to find out something I ignored them. Today I have mixed feelings about whether I made the right decision or not.
The psychic phoned me one evening not long after. She introduced herself, was very kind, and explained that one of the ways she got feelings or visions were from names. She asked me then for the full name of the loved one I was seeking information on, and next how it was spelled. Before I’d even gotten the rest of our family’s last name spelled she told me he was dead. She said he’d been abducted and was killed that same night. When I asked her if she could elaborate more, this was what she told me: My brother was involved with the wrong people. He wanted desperately to get out. Something was going on in the fold, they knew there was a leak, and because my brother had been resistant about participating in more of the criminal activities, they began to believe the leak was him. She said they abducted him to get information from him; he was beat for a long duration of time at someone’s home, but what ultimately killed him was a bullet to the head. She stressed that if I were to look into it I would find there was another man that disappeared right after my brother did, and he was the actual leak that was found. She told me how many men were involved in it and gave me a vague description of them; then gave me an idea of where she thought his remains were. The most important thing she said though, was that he knew what was going to happen beforehand and had made peace with it, and although he knew I was endeavoring to find him was now at rest. When I asked her about the other woman that had overdosed and they felt might be associated with the case, I heard her let out a gasp, exclaim that she couldn’t understand how the police thought it was accidental, and said that she was not at rest, but her spirit was still stuck in the house she died in. I admit I could’ve done without hearing that.
Fifteen years since I still don’t know what happened to my brother. I tried to get a small, local paper to run a story after that but they wouldn’t. I wrote a piece to Unsolved Mysteries begging for their help, but they sent all the information back and told me they were backed up with stories and couldn’t. I asked around a few more times when the opportunity presented itself, but not another clue emerged. Today, twenty-five years after his disappearance, we’re still unable to lay him at rest with family and have a place to go to where we can honor his memory and lay flowers at his feet. The whereabouts of his remains are still a mystery.
I want to say something before finishing this post. My brother was not perfect. He wasn’t a pillar of the community; he didn’t receive the right kind of respect because he made a choice to live a life that was unacceptable by most people’s standards. He was never known for honesty, charity, or faithfulness. He was, however, my brother. He was a man I knew who could make you laugh when you were down. He was generous when you needed help. He would have your back when you were up against adversity. He was a lover of children and animals. He was more than his criminal record, and his life was not disposable; he was not trash to be discarded. He was a man who had children and a family, people who loved him, and because of that his life was still valuable. He still had a chance to right many wrongs, and it was unfair that someone took that away from him. I just wanted to make that clear. I love you, Allyn. I always will. And I’ll never stop praying, hoping, and looking. Not until I join you. I promise.
End Note: I’m not posting a photograph, nor have I divulged the last name of our family because of the specifics I included in this post on the case and people that may be involved. If there is one of you that comes across this that finds it hauntingly familiar in something you’ve heard or know firsthand, please feel free to contact me through my post. Any information is welcome. Thanks.