It was a cold January day, but Mrs. Morris insisted the three of them have a picnic in the woods. Vanessa and Alice watched as their captor loaded a little wagon with firewood. Both girls were trying not to show how upset and afraid they were. Mrs. Morris had been acting strangely. It seemed as though sometimes she thought Vanessa was her daughter, Jennifer, and other times she was aware that both girls belonged to one of her daughter, Annette’s, co-workers.
When she finished loading the wagon with firewood, Edith Morris turned to the girls and smiled. “Follow me,” she said. “My goodness, you’re both shivering. Don’t worry. You’ll soon be warm and toasty.”
“My mother is away visiting friends,” Annette said in response to Agent Stedman’s question. As soon as she said it, she realized she should have given her answer more thought.
“But you just said she was ill and you were her only caregiver.” Agent Stedman was trying to back her into a corner and Annette knew it.
“They decided I needed a break and they volunteered to care for her a couple of weeks.”
Until now, Agent Black had not spoken, but he was taking notes. “Where do your friends live?” He asked.
Annette couln’t give him an answer. It would be a lie and what if he checked it out? “I wasn’t telling you the truth,” she said. “My mother was upset with me and she left. I have no idea where she is.”
“You said her health was bad. Is that not true?”
“Mr. Black, my mother is just suffering from the effects of aging. I’m sure she’s fine. Now if you don’t mind, I’d rather not answer anymore questions. You must realize I had nothing to do with the girls disappearance.”
The two agents left Annette and returned to Jack’s home. When they rang the bell, Kat answered the door. They could see that Jack was on the phone. When he hung up, he shook his head indicating he hadn’t gotten any closer to finding out the whereabouts of his daughters.
“Jack,” Blake Stedman said. “What do you know about Annette Morris’ family?”
Jack sat down. He had been up for days and it was beginning to show. “I don’t know anything. The only time we were all together in a social setting was at Kat’s Thanksgiving party. Annette didn’t bring any family members with her.”
“Wait,” Kat said. “My mother gave me a file on each member of Truth or Consequences. She told me I should review them, which I did. Annette’s mother is still living, but her father is deceased. She also had an older sister who died tragically. I don’t believe the file contained any information about when or how she died. I’d be happy to go and get it. I can be back in an hour.”
“I’ll go with you,” Jack said. “I need to get out of here for a while. Blake…Tom, please stay here and wait for us.”