Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Bad Things Happen in a Good Town

I digress from my usual rants about the War of 1812 today to talk about evil and small town life. A popular young Lambertville woman has gone missing.

I always tell people that if I want to be ignored I get on a bus and go to Manhattan. People disappear from Manhattan all the time without causing a ripple. Here in Lambertville a person can't get a haircut without its being noticed, let alone go missing.

Sarah Majoras left John and Peter's, a bar and musical venue across the Delaware River in New Hope, around two o'clock last Saturday morning and walked across the bridge, heading for her home on Union Street. She never got there. Cameras on the bridge caught her heading down Lambert Lane, taking a shortcut along the canal bank. No one appeared to be following her.

It was very, very cold that night, well below freezing, and remained so for days.

Everyone in town is upset. Helicopters, those birds of ill omen, circled overhead all day yesterday and the day before. TV news vans converged on the town. Sarah's friends formed search parties, posted leaflets, knocked on doors, and poked in the waste places by the edge of the river. Police divers broke through the ice of the canal and looked for her underwater. More police rowed up and down the canal with sonar equipment. The state police parked a forensics van by the bridge across the canal. Today it's too foggy for the helicopters to see anything.

Sarah Majoras was–is–a graduate of South Hunterdon Regional High School, the valedictorian, they say, one of many sweet, charming young people with many friends. The town is full of them.  None have any particular desire to go off to Manhattan and become hedge fund managers. They like rock 'n' roll. They know how to have fun.

Her friends hope to find her alive, though I'm thinking that even if she lay down under a bush and took a nap on the way home (and why the hell would she?) hypothermia would have got her before very long. Worst case, she fell in the canal and drowned. Very worst case, she was murdered. Rumors are rampant. People who don't know him suspect her boyfriend. Others think it was Guatemalans or Mexicans. There was a guy a couple of years ago who attacked a jogger on the canal path. People remember that, and they think maybe he's back in town.

Knowing they are suspected, perhaps expecting the attention of the immigration authorities as a result, the young Hispanic men have disappeared from their usual haunts in town, the corner where they wait for work, the library where they surf the internet.

The curious thing to me is the speed with which this story blew up. The state police were all over it at once, not waiting the usual time for a missing persons case but at once. Was it because of the uproar on Facebook and the internet, or something else? What did they think, and why did they think it?

What happened to Sarah? Reporters and strangers will offer all sorts of speculation. There is no answer until there's an answer.


Anonymous said...

I'm interested in knowing if this is the same girl written up this week in Maine Crime Writers??? Thelma Straw in Manhattan

Kate Gallison said...

Yes, it is.

Anonymous said...

Wow, add this to the current reports about the Staten Island woman's murder in Turkey, and that little five year old down south in the hand-made bunker by the bonkers guy --- whew, world's a mighty dangerous place! Think I'll hibernate to Mars for a spell!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan