“So did I.” White shook his head and laughed at himself. “I don't know why I still have hope after all these years. I mean, I saw the bones and I was half hoping they were hers so I could close the case but half hoping they weren't for there to be a possibility she was still alive somewhere.”
“After all this time? Is that possible, do you think?”
“She was last seen by a friend of hers at nine p.m. the night of her disappearance. She was having a cigarette at the back door of her house and told the friend – I can't remember her name but it's in the witness statements – she'd had a huge argument with her stepfather about using the house as a hotel and not attending to her school work. The stepfather came home at eleven-thirty to find the house empty. He assumed she was out pursuing a relationship with one of several boys she was seeing – only that's not exactly how he phrased it – and didn't worry at all until four p.m. The next day, when she didn't come home from school.”
“Is it possible she just ran away?”
“Possible but not probable. There were no clothes missing other than what she was wearing, no money missing, no make-up. We assumed she'd been abducted until we found her blood in the house. Not much, but enough to raise suspicion. The stepfather claimed she'd cut her hand when she threatened him with a broken bottle, and we couldn't prove otherwise.”
“Threatened him with a broken bottle? Why?”
“He said it was because he threatened to take her laptop out of her room. Again, we couldn't prove otherwise, and the laptop was still there when she disappeared.”
“Maybe.” White scraped leaves and soil back over the bones. If it was a dog, there was a chance someone had buried it there on purpose.