My Child Is Missing Again
The Second Abduction
by John Edward Gill
Back to The First Abduction
That Fall, 1973, Estelle went to Europe for field work and in April, 1974, with that second lawyer, I won custody of Margie. A Judge ruled that leaving her with me would be in the best interest of the child because then she could see all her family members. He noted that Estelle said she would take Margie to Europe on another field trip.
It was hard raising a little girl without her mother. Even when she was on Long Island, Estelle never visited our daughter's school, never came to back-to-school nights, Christmas concerts, gym nights, Spring concerts, field days, family days, and picnics. She changed her mind often about seeing Margie, from Friday or Saturday to Sunday, from morning to afternoon, from afternoon to evening, but I always let her have what little time she gave Margie. Often I took our daughter to Wendy's (Estelle's mother), and Margie never stayed overnight with either her mother or grandmother. Estelle wanted to ruin my social life and succeeded by changing her mind so much about seeing Margie.
But I wanted my child to see her mother.
Estelle talked often of returning to Europe and I knew that would be hard for Margie.
Yet I didn't pay enough attention to Estelle's talk of more field work and continued putting up with her erratic visitation.
On a warm Friday afternoon in June, 1975, Estelle came by around five p. m. to pick up Margie for the weekend.
"You've never kept her overnight before," I told her, dressed in my jogging shorts and Marine Corps T-shirt.
"We'll stay with my mother."
"That's a first, too, Estelle. You have your own apartment."
"None of your business."
"There's still school. Kindergarten."
"When will you bring her back?"
Estelle paused as she and Margie walked to her car. "Probably Monday," she said.
"School starts at one o'clock."
I watched Margie get into Estelle's little Volkswagen, wearing her Raggedy Ann dress and carrying her tan teddy bear.
Probably Monday, I thought. Or maybe tonight, or tomorrow morning. Estelle always changed her mind at different times during her visits with Margie. So, after jogging, I waited by the phone, as I did every weekend. But there were no calls Friday night or all day Saturday, and I began to worry. On Sunday night I started to call Wendy, but decided to wait. Yet I didn't sleep well that night, a sign which always told me I was worried.
At ten a. m. Monday morning the phone rang. It was Roberta Berger, one of Estelle's closest friends.
"John, I want you to know Margie is fine."
"Where is she?"
"I can't tell you. But she's fine."
"When is she coming home? Kindergarten this afternoon."
There was silence. I heard her take a breath.
"I asked a question, Roberta."
"She's not coming home."
"What?" I felt like I was talking to Doctor Lautin again, and felt just as scared.
"She's fine, fine. But you'll never see her again."
"Just tell me where she is."
"Oh, I know you're worried, John. But my loyalty to Estelle comes first."
"What about your loyalty to Margie? She's only five."
"I said Margie is fine. She's okay."
"But where? With whom?"
"With her mother."
"How can I be sure? Is she in Fargo?"
"I can't say. Estelle is my best friend."
"She abandoned out daughter before. Never came to her school."
"I'm not going to put up with this harassment."
"Harassment? I have custody now. It's called custodial interference, what Estelle has done."
"I don't have to put up with your anger."
"Anger? You kidnap my child and I'm supposed to be nice?"
"I'll call police if you don't stop."
"Don't stop WHAT? Worrying about my daughter?"
"I'm going to hang up if you continue this way."
"Fine. You call and tell me I'm never going to see Margie again and then you hang up?"
"I don't have to stand for this."
"You know what Estelle did in 1973?"
"We weren't friends then."
"Friends don't kidnap children, Roberta."
"I'm going to say good-bye. Margie is fine."
And she hung up.
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