God I Know Youre Here Somewhere: Finding God in the Clutter of Life
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If anything, it was like the case was moving backwards -- getting worse as time went on. In there were two bodies in a barrel and no leads. Fifteen years later, all investigators had to show for their efforts were four bodies in two barrels with no leads. In fact the daunting nature of the challenge even attracted new people. While the official investigation into the Bear Brook murders remained pretty much static, an amateur investigator named Ronda Randall picked up the case.
Ronda is someone who knows how to find someone. It was a lot of phone calls.
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I first met Ronda through her blog, Oakhill Research. It chronicles the history of the Bear Book murders and her own efforts, since , to identify the victims. I should mention two things here She says she really only became interested in the Bear Brook case after the internet came around and online messaging boards starting making adoption searches too easy. Later, Ronda would tell me she had a two-year-old niece who died of leukemia not long before she started on the Bear Brook case.
Now she wonders if that may have had something to do with how she felt on that first visit to Bear Brook. Over the years Ronda says she has identified upwards of people using public records, a phone, and a lot of hard work.
In this case, the only difference was that the people she wanted to identity were murder victims. So, Ronda got to work. Every name, every page. It took me 14 hours. It took 2 days. And I was motion sick by the end of every day. Like, severely motion sick. I tend to be tenacious. Ronda began her research on the Bear Brook case with her usual level of dogged interest. But it became something more than just a research project in the summer of But it was that trip that day out there that kind of sparked an obsessive interest in the research on this case.
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I wanted to see what Ronda and her brother Scott saw that day went they first visited the crime scene. So one day, we parked on the shoulder of a winding road in Allenstown and then set off into the woods. It was December and I can remember my hand was freezing from holding the mic. But I was also riveted. It was my first trip out here, just a few weeks after I first learned about the case.
There was kind of a hush out here and I felt Ronda and Scott led me down a snowmobile trail toward the site of the first barrel. They had pieced together the approximate location based on interviews with retired Allenstown cops like Ron Montplaisir and his former chief, as well as residents of the trailer park like Kevin Morgan who was deputized to keep the press away from the site. The snowmobile trail led down a slight incline.
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All around us the forest floor was covered in thick a blanket of leaves. Only a few boulders peaked through here and there. I was struck by just how quickly we reached the spot. We had set out from the side of a road along the northern edge of the state park. From there it had taken us less than five minutes to reach the site of the first barrel.
Bear Brook State Park may be vast and unknowable, but from where the first barrel was found, you can look back toward the road, and catch glimpses of passing cars. They were found on a narrow lot of private property that sits in between the trailer park and the state park. The lot is small -- not even a tenth of a square mile. On a map, it looks like a little rectangular bite taken out of the top of Bear Brook State Park. The private lot is owned by a guy named Ed Gallagher.
In the early s, he also owned and ran a small camp store on the property.
It was called the Bear Brook Store. People camping in Bear Brook State Park could stop in for a couple bags of ice or a case of beer. And people who lived in the nearby trailer park could walk here for a gallon of milk. The Bear Brook store burned down in , just two years before the first barrel was found. An old disconnected power pole standing in the woods. It changed how I thought about the case, too. Before, in the version of the story where the barrels were found deep in the forest, the mystery of the Bear Brook murders seemed impenetrable… like a maze. A name, or a face, or a family that came through the park years ago - some clue that could begin to unravel the case after all these years.
On their first trip here in , Scott and Ronda also knocked on a few doors in the Bear Brook Gardens trailer park and found another surprising detail. Many people who had vivid memories of when the first barrel was found told them they had never even heard about the second barrel. So Ronda and Scott decided to embark on a massive project: to track down every single person who lived in the Bear Brook Gardens trailer park from to The photo is maybe 6 feet across and 4 feet high.
In the photo you can make out each lot in the trailer park -- Ronda and Scott have them labeled with the names of the families and the years that they lived there. I like to imagine Ronda staring at the map over her breakfast, or maybe pacing in front of it after dark. The excitement of discovering another name, of coming that much closer to tracking them all down. But Ronda and Scott have been more than armchair investigators on this case.
When it comes to Ronda and Scott and the New Hampshire state police, they actually enjoy a pretty good relationship. And for their part, Ronda and Scott, generally share whatever they find with state police: transcripts of phone calls, photos from the area where the bodies were found.
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More than a few times, state police have followed up on information they provided. When they learned motorcycle gangs were active in the trailer park during the 80s Ronda and Scott passed out flyers with info on the victims at the Laconia Bike Week, an annual event where hundreds of thousands bikers from around the country meet in New Hampshire.
There was the time they flew down to Florida to interview the retired Allenstown Police Chief who told them he never stopped thinking about the case. But it still just, it was really ominous to see it. That it had a worn initial on the inside of the tongue, some small detail that would lead them to ID the Bear Brook victims. Ronda and Scott gathered more information, but it was never the information they needed.
More than anything, it was a symbol of what drove Ronda. Still, she sent photos of the shoe to state police. Just in case. A bond that can be hard for others to understand. I was blessed with a free copy of this book courtesy of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity. I was not asked to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.
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Jul 04, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: christian-life , christian-nonfiction , womens , parenting. As a parent, I know I have stepped on my fair share of cheerios and legos.
One makes a mess while the other causes pain. Motherhood can be messy yet beautiful, painful yet joyful, blessed yet a trial. God is in the midst of it all. Some days that is easier to see than others. Raising a son of my own, I was able to feel a bond with Betsy Singleton Snyder as I read and reviewed her new release: Stepping on Cheerios. About the Book: Stepping on Cheerios is a must read book for every mom raisin As a parent, I know I have stepped on my fair share of cheerios and legos. About the Book: Stepping on Cheerios is a must read book for every mom raising boys.