http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2006/10/19/local/doc45382cff9513d091519403.txtSqueaky Wheel Tour recognizes missing people *
Oct 19, 2006
In the pictures, Bernadette Stevenson Caruso
has that “80s hair” big and poofy on top with bangs. She’s smiling, and even in black and white her eyes seem to sparkle.
Or maybe it’s just because I know she’s dead that she looks so alive.
Bernadette is one of the missing. One of the people Jannel Rap’s Squeaky Wheel Tour is holding in the light.
The tour - 180 events in nearly every state and 10 countries - had its official kick-off Monday at Duggan’s Pub, the Lincoln bar where Jannel’s sister Gina Bos was last seen alive.
But a few weeks earlier, in Maryland, Bernadette’s family held a Squeaky Wheel event, too. They invited 10 families to gather, light candles and talk about the people they lost.
It went well, Bernadette’s sister Darlene Huntsman told Jannel in an e-mail. We received some information we are passing along to the FBI... one of those families with three missing little boys have been on our local news...I hope the ripples keep spreading...
It’s easy not to think about missing people, or the people who are missing them.
Unless they’re Laci Peterson or Elizabeth Smart - their faces on the cover of People magazine, their fates parsed by a panel of experts on Larry King Live - most of us don’t even know they’re gone.
When I met with Jannel and her younger sister Tammy Smith before the concert here Monday, they talked about hiding missing people in boxes.
The runaway box. The bad family box.
The boxes that help us keep them at a distance.
“After Gina disappeared I couldn’t do that anymore,” said Tammy. “I had to start really seeing people.”
And so I went to Jannel’s Web site and clicked on the missing people she profiled in the Lincoln concert.
Jason Jolkowski, a 19-year-old Omaha boy who took out the garbage on a June morning in 2003 and never made it the eight blocks to meet his carpool to work.
Tammy and Kylee Walnofer, a mother and daughter who left Norfolk last May in a red Hyundai, later found abandoned in North Logan, Utah.
Missy Schmidt lost from Lincoln in 1995. She would be 25 now, her disappearance poster says.
And the 23-year-old mother with big ‘80s hair who left her shift at a Maryland mall Sept. 27, 1986, and was never seen again.
She talked to her kid sister on the phone that Saturday afternoon, Darlene said.
They both had children. Bernadette’s daughter was 3. Darlene’s baby wasn’t walking yet.
Bernadette was at work and Darlene had just come home from the grocery store.
It was the first time she’d left the baby with her husband, Darlene said, and there the 5-month old was pushing herself around the driveway in her walker in her stocking feet while he worked on the car.
The two sisters laughed about that. Men. They just don’t think like a mom does. Then they made plans to get together Monday with their little girls.
Less than two hours later, at 5 p.m. that Saturday, Bernadette left the jewelry store. She told her co-workers her estranged husband had called, and she thought she’d meet him before she went out for the evening.
She never showed up to meet her friends that night.
They never found the car.
Or a body.
No arrests were made.
Every year, the family has a mass for Bernadette. Darlene serves on the state’s missing and vulnerable adults task force.
The family has written dozens of letters, posted hundreds of thousands of fliers.
“It’s not a place you want to be,” said Darlene.
Then she says what they all say. It’s the not knowing. It’s always dealing with the not knowing.
Three weeks ago, Darlene got word that the remains of a body were found in the county.
“Most people hear of a body being found, it crosses their mind in a second and disappears.”
But she couldn’t stop thinking about those lonely bones.
“I prayed it would be Bernadette,” the sister said.
“That’s what it’s been like for us for 20 years.”