Most days I lie awake in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out what happened to Sierra. Was someone familiar with her patterns lying in wait, knowing that she was isolated and vulnerable at 7:15 a.m.? Or, was it a family friend with evil intentions who just happened to be there on the cold, wet and windy morning who offered to drive her to school?
If so, is that individual spending time at the search center, and have I shook his hand repeatedly? It wouldn’t be the first time.
In Polly’s case, and this was verified when we did a records check, the killer’s brother-in-law was lurking around our search center one day. Are any of the volunteers acting out of character? I really have no way of knowing since I have only known them for a couple of weeks.
Was it a schoolmate, jealous that the popular new girl was commanding attention meant for her, or perhaps a boy with his own adolescent motivations? I really should try to get some sleep, because without more information we will never know the elusive answer to this very troubling riddle.
Tuesday's search was managed and organized by the community. I was the only member of KlaasKids who was able to make the drive to Morgan Hill to help out. It was cold and wet, not unlike the day Sierra stepped out of her home four weeks ago and vanished in the mist. Only that’s not what really happened.
Brian, who emerged as a leader from the beginning, is assuming incident commander status. He is briefing new volunteers and assigning search teams to returning volunteers. Roger, Dave and Ernie are briefing and debriefing the teams.
The data entry ladies are organizing the massive amounts of information flowing through the center so that law enforcement will be able to easily analyze the data. The registration ladies keep the flow into the center smooth, steady and organize.
Wheelchair-bound Keara is keeping the flow of supplies stocked so that no one is wanting. Like heavenly angels, the kitchen ladies ensure that everybody has a meal to eat. Like the miracle of the fishes and loaves, the impossible task of feeding large numbers of hungry people with limited inventory, has never run dry.
I love these people; these search junkies who are there day after day, because they make my job look easy.
The temporary debate regarding volunteer burnout was for naught. All-in-all, 182 searchers were sent out on 15 search-parties today. Searches for missing persons, particularly children, are driven much more by a sense of urgency than a probability of volunteer responses.
During my first conversation with Sierra’s family, I tried to explain that it would take some time to organize those first searches. They were incredulous that we weren’t able to send search parties immediately.
It was a difficult conversation for me because I understood exactly what Steve, Marlene and Danielle were feeling - that there is no more time to lose. Well, nothing has changed. We are just farther down the road without any idea where Sierra is.
In my experience, the number of volunteers will dwindle over time. That is going to happen regardless of whether searches are scheduled once per week or every day of the week. However, that is a gradual process that has not yet begun. There is still a sense of urgency in the community and I think that we should continue to take advantage of opportunity.
It is a matter of relativity. In almost every other case that I have worked, and I am sure that the KlaasKids team will back me up on this, 500-plus volunteers turning out to search is unprecedented.
However, Sierra’s case is status quo. It has happened in virtually every search that has been conducted so far. Even if volunteer numbers dwindle to 200 or even 100 volunteers over the next two weeks, we still a significant number of people to cover significant real estate. After all, as much as we are trying to find Sierra, we are also eliminating areas where she is not.