Remembering Charlotte...

There are some things you just can't forget. 

The last few days old photos I saw long ago have been drifting back to me. When I wake up. When I'm just going about my day. 

Like a camera flashing, the images just keep coming. 

So today, I dragged out the box from underneath my bed and went through the old articles I'd written until I came across the one I wanted. 

Then I got my coffee, sat down, and did a Google search to see if any other information had been brought forth since I'd last checked. And as usual, there was nothing.

The article I wrote was titled: Anatomy Of A Tragedy: Charlotte Is Missing.

It was a detailed account (gathered through known facts, interviews with her family and my own research) of the day a young girl named Charlotte, along with her friend Cinda, went missing from the Oklahoma State Fair. 

It was Saturday, September 26, 1981. 

(Age progression of Charlotte)

(Age progression of Cinda)

Three years later, when there were no clues and the case was cold, I contacted Charlotte's family and interviewed them at their home. I could just as well have interviewed the family of the other girl, but I felt that one story was, in actuality, both stories.

I know what Charlotte, who had turned 13 just 16 days prior, ate for breakfast, what she wore, and who she talked to on the phone that day before she left with Cinda and her older brother. 

I know that she called her grandmother and asked when they could go buy paint and pick out curtains and a new bedspread for her bedroom. 

She was unsure just how she wanted to paint the room. She was thinking she'd paint it a soft lilac, but maybe paint one wall darker. 

Her grandmother said she thought they should paint it the lighter color first. 

Charlotte asked her what she thought about curtains.

She told her she would take her to look at curtains and bedspreads the following day. 

I know that she also made plans with her cousin for him to come over that evening so they could watch movies. I know they talked about making popcorn. 

And then she talked to her friend Cinda about when they would leave for the fair that day. 

She had already gone to the fair the day before with another friend. But when Cinda invited her to go again, she agreed. 

I know that she changed her clothing several times before she left, as girls often do. I know that she finally settled on a burgundy v-necked T-shirt with a white stripe around the border, blue jeans, and blue and white Nikes. 

I know she put a comb in her back pocket. And put on two rings and a necklace.

Around noon Cinda and her older brother came to pick her up. 

I know that her mother had a strange feeling of intuition at that last moment before her child walked out her door. And it led her to say: "I wish you wouldn't go."

But then Charlotte was already in the car, and her mother watched as it drove out of sight. It was to be the last time she would lay eyes on her daughter. 

I'm going to skip what we pieced together as having happened later, at the time of her kidnapping. And the testimony from those who saw her at the fair that day. 

The man who we believe kidnapped them. The horrendous crimes he'd already committed. That he was tried for but never convicted of kidnapping them four years after they disappeared. 

That after the judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence, he was sent back to another state to serve his time for the kidnapping of two other girls.

I'll save all that for another time. 

Today is for bringing to the forefront the images that keep coming to me at odd moments. The things I saw in her room the day I visited her home. 

One photo that keeps coming back to me is of her getting ready to swing the bat at a softball game. The top of her long blond hair was covered with a baseball cap. And she was smiling. 

I found various notes and hair ribbons in her bedroom. I had asked for some time to just be in her room, to absorb who this child was. And they allowed me that, closing the door behind them.

And so I walked around and let who she was gel in my mind as I took note of what she surrounded herself with. That always tells a lot about a person.

There were cheer leading honors hanging from a Raggedy Ann bulletin board. 

There was a "Jesus Loves Charlotte" sign. 

There was a Tootsie Roll piggy bank filled with coins on her dresser. 

And a card that read: "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday."

One drawer of her dresser was filled to the brim with notes and letters she had kept. 

And chillingly, when I turned to look at the opposite wall, I saw a Ziggy poster that read: "Wake Me When It's Over." 

I remember I got goose bumps when I saw that, as though it was a premonition of sorts. The kind of thing that holds no meaning until the child who owned it is kidnapped.

Baseball caps hung from the window.

There were "I Am Loved" buttons scattered in a Ziggy cup.

A shelf stood in one corner. On it was a small TV and a stereo. 

There were stuffed animals grouped on the pillow on her bed. A new "Ziggy" gown was lying there folded, the price tag still attached to one sleeve.

Through the nearly transparent curtain, I could see softball trophies facing the street outside.

I took it all in, every detail. So that what I wrote about her would be as accurate as possible. 

The generations of family that had gathered there that day told me stories about Charlotte. 

I know that every night her mother would sit at the end of Charlotte's bed, hand her daughter the brown bear she still slept with, and tuck the covers in around her. 

And then she would listen while her daughter said her nightly prayer. 

"Goodnight. Sweet dreams. Say your prayers. And don't forget your God blesses."

All of these things are written in my detailed article. Because I felt that nothing was too small to make note of.

Because a little girl, who had just become a teen at the tender age of 13, never came home. 

Her cousin did not come over to watch movies and eat popcorn. 

Her grandmother did not go with her to pick out paint for her bedroom the following day. 

Though later, they went ahead and redecorated her room, hoping for her eventual return.

Back then, they had to wait 24 hours before filing a missing persons report. Then had to convince the police that the two girls didn't run away. It was four days before the case got any real publicity. 

What had been an ordinary day turned into a nightmare that never ended. And has not to this day in time, 34 years later. 

I don't know why these memories come back to visit me from time to time. 

I can't erase all this from my mind. And I don't really want to. 

Because it makes her more than a case number in a cold case file. 

It makes her more than another missing kid on a poster in a store.


  1. Brenda, This is sad....for many reasons. Just thinking of the family's loss is rough. Hope your day is a good one, xoxo,Susie

  2. Oh Brenda, This is so very sad. My heart goes out to the family and all the years they lost with their girls.
    It is right to remember.
    Have a good week ahead. cm

  3. It's nice to know that someone besides family, continues to remember this child and wants to know what happened to her. One day we will know. I can't imagine losing a daughter this way and never knowing what happened to her.

  4. That's bizarre because just last night I was watching something about another young woman who disappeared into thin air. It resonated with me so much I couldn't sleep, thinking of the family and their loss and heartache. It's so tragic that time after time people get away with these heinous crimes. You are a wonderful person, Brenda, with a big heart.

  5. It's hard to imagine how people can survive such a thing...not knowing what happened. I can certainly understand why you'd remember and care as well...and it is awful to imagine what could have happened :( That's the worst part.

  6. It's hard to imagine how people can survive such a thing...not knowing what happened. I can certainly understand why you'd remember and care as well...and it is awful to imagine what could have happened :( That's the worst part.

  7. Things like this will stick with us and for good reason. You write to eloquently about it. So sad and it continues to happy. I feel for the family.


  8. What happened to the older brother who took the two girls to the fair, Brenda?

  9. I can only imagine what these families went through..34 years of wondering..34 years of praying..34 years of still thinking they might walk in the door at any moment...I do believe not knowing is much worse than knowing what happened to them...

  10. How heartbreaking for the family to not have the closure of where and what happened to their daughters. Good to see that you can still remember her and write about her here so others can know her story.
    Great post Brenda.

  11. I can't comprehend the loss these families went through. I know the world is full of ugly evil people, but to do something so horrible to children is just unimaginable. Your writing and keeping Charlotte's memory alive is so touching. You know I reported mantpy criminal cases here in the LA Superior Court system for years and often times out of the blue I reflect on a case I reported and the family and victims. It is strange to think back, but I just feel it's part of our make up.

  12. I can't even imagine! I was wondering though...the man who is thought to have kidnapped them and was serving time for kidnapping two other girls...did he harm those girls? Is he still alive?

    1. He has died. So has the prosecutor. One girl got away. Which is why he was sent to prison. A witness alive. They never found the other one. Think they were off an Indian Reservation. Google Royal Russell Long and you'll probably find it.

  13. I lived in Oklahoma City when the girls went missing. I was a new mother at the time. I remember the case well. I have a picture of my daughter at the fair a couple of years after that. She was a happy toddler, a runner. I put a child harness and leash on her before we left to go to the fair.

  14. I am sure that the parents appreciated the time you took to present the original story with warmth and accuracy.

    In this short version you have again touched hearts. You have told us of both the beauty and the ugliness in the world. You highlighted the beauty and I challenge everyone to do that in life. May we notice and appreciate the beauty around us every day.

  15. I remember how profound your last post about these girls was. I searched th story up when you first wrote of it. I check the Charley Project periodically to see if there is an update. Hopefully, one day these two girls will be found so their families have closure (whatever that really means when your life is shattered beyond repair).

  16. I remember how profound your last post about these girls was. I searched th story up when you first wrote of it. I check the Charley Project periodically to see if there is an update. Hopefully, one day these two girls will be found so their families have closure (whatever that really means when your life is shattered beyond repair).

  17. đồng tâm
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    truy tìm ký ức
    mặt dày tâm đen
    thế giới như tôi thấy

    Hoa Hạ đại đế hừ lạnh một tiếng: “Việc nhỏ? Nghe nói cái vị Đạo Đức chân nhân kia có khả năng thăng thiên, độn địa. Nhân vật như vậy cũng là chuyện nhỏ sao?” Nếu không có hắc ảnh kia nhắc nhở thì Hoa Hạ đại đế đến giờ cũng không biết môn phái lớn nhất tu chân giới đã kết minh với Đông cung.

    Lý Hàn khẽ biến sắc, vội vàng quỷ xuống mặt đất: “Bệ hạ, đây là sai sót của thần, xin bệ hạ trách phạt..”

    “Trách phạt?” Hoa Hạ đại đế lạnh lùng nhìn vị thần tử đang quỳ trước mặt, trong lòng có chút không thoải mái: “Được rồi, sau này hoàng thành có chuyện lớn, nhỏ ngươi đều phải tâu lên. Nếu không trẫm nhất định sẽ không tha.”

    Lý Hàn vội vàng dập đầu tạ ơn.

    Ngày hôm sau Lưu Phong rốt cuộc nhận được thánh chỉ, tiến cung diện thánh.

    Theo nội thị trong cung đi vào hoàng cung, xuyên qua một tòa sâm nghiêm đại điện, cuối cùng hắn cũng thấy được Văn Hòa điện.

    Ngay lúc đó thì một thanh âm truyền đến: “Lưu tước gia, ngươi đã đến rồi, bệ hạ đang chờ, mau theo ta đi vào.”

    “Xin hỏi tôn tính đại danh của vị công công này?” Lưu Phong chắp tay khẽ hỏi viên thái giám.

    Người thái giám trả lời: “Ta họ Trương, sau này tước gia cứ gọi là Trương công công là được.”

    “Trương công công, ngưỡng mộ đã lâu.” Lưu Phong cố làm ra một bộ dáng kinh ngạc, nói.

    Trương công công cũng kinh ngạc: “Chẳng lẽ Tước gia biết ta?”

    “Sao lại không biết.” Lưu Phong thuận miệng, bắt đầu nói lung tung: “ Nghe nói Trương công công là người mà hoàng thượng sủng ái nhất, vô duyên chưa được gặp. Hôm nay thật là hữu duyên.”


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