It’s the crystal clear blue October sky which comes to north Georgia after  cooling temperatures start its magic on the trees causing their leaves to change  into brilliant autumnal colors of red, gold, yellow, orange (and everything in  between), when the air has been swept clean by the blustery wind that  produces that particular blue  matching my son’s eyes. For the 15 years he was  missing, it was this blue October sky that helped me feel connected to him.  Strange, but not, that it was on such a day with such a sky that we buried him.

Not the best picture of his eyes but close enough for now. Can't look any more through old photos right now.

With the passing of each day of the 15 year wait to find out what had happened  to my son, I was sure that the “system” would fail him. I was not disappointed.  The system failed all of us… miserably. Not only did the largest county police  department in Georgia botch his missing person’s information on Georgia  Crime Information Center (GCIC), but they actually removed his name from  the only link I had to the world to his whereabouts. They also altered his  physical appearance on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) when I  protested his removal forcing them to re-establish his profile on their network.

The irony? If my son had been 2 months younger, I wouldn’t have had to solely  rely on the government “system” as my only source to help me locate Carl. I  would have been able to use National Center of Missing and Exploited  Children to locate him. The “system” never asked me for a photo, childhood  fingerprints, dental records or anything which would actually assist “them” in  locating my son who was merely 45 minutes away from me the whole damn  time buried as a “John Doe” in a pauper’s grave.

What had happened to Carl started to unravel in the most unlikely way on  Saturday, September 11, 1999 at 8:00 AM.

Carl was sitting in my lap as I rocked him like you would a little, scared boy. I  felt his breath on my face and the weight of his 18-year-old body on my lap. I  urgently told him telepathically over and over how much I loved him as I  stared, unblinkingly, into those October-blue-sky eyes of his. I was holding  my  boy in my arms and that was all that mattered. I told him I didn’t care  where  he’d been or what he’d been doing. It was my body’s rocking motion,  tears and a mother’s pain strangling my breath which jerked me from sleep with the wonderful feel of my child’s 6 foot, 170 pound body sitting in my lap.

It was the bitter-sweet dream of my missing 18-year-old son and my immediate  conversation with my daughter (then 22) which triggered me into action once  again in search of him. My daughter told me she’d had a dream a couple of  days before where Carl had come to her as well. It was then she reminded me  of my associate at work who was dating a P.I. That was as good a place to start  as any.

I emailed my associate saying I’d had a dream and would she ask her  boyfriend, Ed, to assist us in our search for my lost son.  He called me the next  day.

From the onset of our conversation, Ed confidently said, “I think I can help you  put some closure to this. You really need closure”. Even though I knew next to  nothing about Ed, I “knew” he could and would be the only person to help  connect me with Carl again. How? 100% instinct… or God’s hand guiding me.

In our first phone conversation, I described Carl’s appearance, approximate  date of disappearance, where I’d last seen him and under what circumstances,  what I knew of his lifestyle, what I had done in my search for him over the last  15 years, etc.  And, by Thursday (9/16/99), Ed asked if I could meet him on  Saturday (9/18/99) to look at a composite drawing done by a famous police  artist to see if there was any resemblance between a “John Doe” found about  the time of my son’s disappearance in Ed’s hometown of Barnesville and my  son.

Ed had known about this “John Doe” as he’d been the Chief of Police of  Barnesville, Georgia when John Doe’s body had been found outside the city  limits in an abandoned house. Ed’s wife at the time, Rene, had been the lead    investigator of the Lamar  County Sheriff Department’s homicide    investigation team. And, in those 15 years, Ed had gladly left the area; his now  ex-wife, Rene, had gone to work for the GBI and had recently rejoined the  Sheriff’s office wherein she immediately started working their “cold case” files.

To prepare for the meeting, I needed to have the last known photo of Carl  enlarged 400% so as to accurately compare his likeness with “John Doe’s”  pencil composite drawing. All I had to work with was a picture taken by my  dad of  Carl, my daughter and me in April, 1984. This was the photo I showed  to many passersby in town during my lone search for Carl the long, hot  summer of 1984. I’d moved to Mom’s to hopefully add some stability to Ava’s 6-year-old life and so it was after I’d put Ava to bed that I’d go downtown looking  for any clue as to his whereabouts not knowing anywhere else to look. Having  to examine the photo closely was a painful reminder of my failure to find my  lost child. I had looked at it every single day for 15 years but not like I did on  this day.

Carl, Ava and me April 1984

As I pulled the photo out of my wallet, the exercise served as a painful reminder  of the lost third musketeer, lost years, lost love, lost child. Looking at it had  always brought tears to my eyes and a great pain to my heart but when I  experienced the full force of his sole image roll out of the copier in 400%  enlarged full-living color, I started crying.

I had somewhat prepared the kind lady at the photo shop assisting me by  explaining why I was in no shape to operate the simplest of machines at this  moment. As I fumbled for the  money I owed, my heart remained gripped in  pain from the after-image of seeing that enlargement of my beautiful child’s  face and from not knowing his fate.  As I left, this wonderful woman said as I  ran from the store, “God bless you. You’ll be in my prayers.” Her words echoed  through my soul as I raced to the privacy of my car to totally break down.

Saturday morning, 9/18/99, I awoke with fear, nausea, relief and pain all  shrouded in a sort of dislocated sense of non-reality (or surreal-ness – I’m still  not sure). My man-friend drove me to the pre-designated Jonesboro meeting  place with the enlarged photo of Carl staring back at me as each mile  brought  me closer and closer to knowing… or not.

Barnesville's John Doe

As I compared the pencil composite drawing of the Barnesville “John Doe” to  my son’s color image, a strange thing happened. As an art major in college  with an art  history minor, I guess, for me, it was somewhat normal for my art  history training to kick in. I kept staring at the drawing, reaching for where I’d  seen it before as if I was taking that all  important final exam… searching my  mind to identify the artist, time period and medium. Finally, when I was ready  to accept the task at hand, I was able to put the “student” aside and take the  features from each and compare  them. The hair was similarly parted in the  middle. The eyes had a slight droop on the outer edge crowned with proud  brows. The noses were the strong, straight Roman type. The ear  size and  placement was the same on the head.

“What about eye color?” I grasped explaining to Ed that Carl’s eyes were as blue as the sky on a clear October day. Why couldn’t anybody confirm eye color for me of this “John Doe”?

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