A year later, Kyrons disappearance still a painful story
Desiree Young says she will spend sad anniversary remembering her missing son
At the end of this first-person essay by reporter Jennifer Anderson you can read Desiree Young's statement on the anniversary of her son's disappearance.
A year ago, I remember hearing the news. It was like a gut-punch to every parents' emotions: A 7-year-old boy with spiky hair, glasses and a toothy grin - a striking resemblance to my son's best friend - had vanished from his school in an isolated part of rural Multnomah County.
As a news reporter covering Portland Public Schools, I had been to Skyline School before. The cheery red farmhouse on the hill in rural northwest Multnomah County offered gorgeous, sweeping views of the city to the east and south. One teacher had his students sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs, for the pure joy and physical benefits. Artwork filled the hallways. The small, tight-knit community was its own bubble of happiness, far away from our urban woes.
How could anything have gone awry?
I grabbed my GPS and drove to the school along winding roads lined by evergreens and farmland. I couldn't help but scan the horizon as I drove, my eyes darting into ditches and farmhouses as if I would see a flash of a dark CSI T-shirt or weary child trudging out of the brush, waving his hands up high.
My imagination raced. It was creepy. Was Kyron being held in one of those outbuildings?
I cried, thinking of my own two little boys.
All of us who arrived at a press conference - a gaggle that would soon grow to dozens of local, regional and national media outlets - listened, stone-faced, as sheriff's officers briefed us on extensive search efforts. It was one of many press conferences the sheriff's office would call during the next few weeks as search efforts expanded, contracted and then the case was turned over to a task force of officers trying to piece together clues to the boy's whereabouts.
We were cynical journalists, believing the worst but hoping with all of our might that Kyron was just hiding in the bushes, or hurt, or lost, and would emerge at any moment. The whole world felt that way, until the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months.
That first day at a small art gallery across the road from Skyline School we saw a woman with long red frizzy hair arrive: Kyron's stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman. She sat with Desiree Young and Kaine Horman, Kyron's biological parents, who both appeared to be in shock.
Terri - now the focus of endless speculation, rumors and suspicion, despite no official suspect or person of interest in the case - wore a permanent frown, her brows furrowed. She held her arm around Desiree, offering a reassuring squeeze. She didn't say a word.
(Terri Horman has not been accused of any crime in connection with Kyron's disappearance.)
As the tragic and sordid story unfolded during the next several months - Kaine and Terri's divorce proceedings, 'sexting' allegations, murder-for-hire plots, vigils, fundraisers, billboards, law enforcement tip lines, a parade of witnesses before a county grand jury and on-again off-again search efforts - the story reached tabloid status.
As one of several local media outlets, the Portland Tribune faced multiple coverage challenges. One was judging when to jump on the bandwagon of reporting scandalous hearsay and gossip (which flooded the blogs and airwaves) to fill in the void of facts newsworthy developments. I'm proud to say the Tribune wasn't a part of the paparazzi coverage.
Another question we heard often was why make such a to-do about Kyron's case, when thousands of children go missing each year. The answer is that this case is exceptional. The setting was an idyllic school building. The public and private search effort of this magnitude was unprecedented in this state - possibly the Northwest.
Tuned in or not, a soap opera-like cast of characters - including the state's most prominent and well-known criminal defense lawyer - were playing their roles for the world to see.
A year later, the case continues to grip the world. Dozens of Facebook pages are devoted to Kyron's cause, as people find a place for their prayers and sympathy to console each other. Some have lost children of their own. Some want justice. Many are mothers and grandmothers. Most are haunted each day by Kyron's story.
As a newspaper dedicated to local stories, the case of Kyron Horman's disappearance is indeed still a big story one year later. There's nothing new in the investigation. But for many, the emotions are just as raw as they were 365 days ago.
Kyron's mother: 'I believe that is what will bring Kyron home to us, the goodness in people'
Kyron's mother, Desiree Young, said Friday in a message to supporters that she planned to spend this weekend honoring and remembering her son. She also thanked people who have worked to find the child and keep his memory alive.
Here is the statement Young sent to the media:
I apologize that we can't be there in person to give this message.
As you know Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the day that our Kyron was taken from us. It is a very difficult time for us and the rest of his family. We have thought of how to honor Kyron and make this mark in time about him.
This past year has been the most difficult and heartbreaking for us and everyone related to him. We feel honored to have Kyron in our lives, but our sense of loss and the senselessness of this act cannot be forgotten. While we think of this last year as a tragedy, we have also been witness to the incredible good in people that makes this burden easier.
We will be spending this time with family, looking at pictures of Kyron, and remembering how wonderful Kyron is. We will be planting some of Kyron's favorite flowers and dedicating an area to Kyron under his favorite plum tree in our yard. This day will be about the good and positive that Kyron brings to our lives.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has provided us with support, thoughts and prayers over the past year. We would not be able to get through this without the support of law enforcement, volunteers, family and the support of people everywhere that think about Kyron and care about bringing him home every day.
My belief in the goodness in people and the strength of hearts everywhere has been restored. I believe that is what will bring Kyron home to us, the goodness in people.