Small communities breed strange tales — self-sustaining stories that outlive the citizens who originally spun them. In the familiar environs of small town America, stories and gossip breed, passed from lips to ears again and again, growing in the telling into tales that, ultimately … well … become legends.
Here’s one, for example. It’s about a young girl, a bit rebellious, child of Holy Cross Catholic School and daughter of the school’s deans. The legend’s name is Shea Sullivan.
This article from a local newspaper tells us that Shea vanished (or was taken) from the home of the Peterson family while babysitting their two small children more than three years ago. The tale tells of a 911 call made from the Peterson home that night. The article enters into detail concerning the screams of Shea and the Peterson children in the background.
The legend of Shea took on a life of its own over the span of four years since it occurred. Eventually it caught the “ear” of Red Wire, a gossip rag with delusions of journalistic relevance. Their take on the tale corroborates much of the story from the Red Lake Reporter (although certain details are clearly embellished).
But the interesting bits — involving the traditional candlelight memorial and the supposed sightings of Shea — indicate the elevation of a simple abduction story to urban legend status. Shea is on the rise…
The Red Wire people weren’t alone in their failed attempts to gain cooperation from the authorities. There’s a significant lack of communication on this side of those closed doors, to say the least. Local government reticence, along with the video that Red Wire “acquired,” certainly feeds public frustration over a lack of progress in the case.
The video is disturbing and damaged. Not much is clear. What is clear is that two men are escorting the twitching, hooded form of a young woman in what appears to be the uniform of a Holy Cross student (which is enough to raise eyebrows in and of itself). The subsequent scenes in which the girl being escorted appears to be attacking her escorts is made all the more sinister by the accompanying audio.
And that appears to be all that we’re getting on an “official” level …
especially given that all of the “official” stuff was acquired from unofficial sources.
Certain incidental items are available, though. “Missing” posters that once peppered the town are readily accessible. The tattered remnants of some can still be found tacked up in sheltered areas. (This one came from the bulletin board in a local diner.) There’s also a photo, little more than a snapshot, that circles the internet, which is said to showcase the interior of the Peterson house on the night of the attack.
The similarities between Shea as she appears in this flier and the woman in the video are discomforting…
Several questions can be raised. Why were two men (a doctor? a security guard?) escorting a bound young woman into a plastic-lined elevator with an active security camera? What, exactly, does “Code Blue and hostile” mean at the end of a 911 call? Was that even a 911 responder on the phone with Shea? Are the sightings of Shea legitimate, or merely the fervor-fueled excitement of a pack of gullible teens?
There aren’t many avenues to the truth in this. The Petersons took their small children, abandoned their house, and left town. The authorities have clammed up. The town residents themselves are divided between those in support of the silence and those desperate for revelation.
As regards Shea Sullivan and the mystery of her disappearance, all that this town has is the legend that has grown from fragments of truth. They’ll cling to that, surely — knowing that the whole truth certainly lies somewhere within the legend.