When the Answers Wash Out with the Tide

Swampscott, Massachusetts, in happier times. Image from the Boston Public Library via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Police eventually figured out who killed Jaimee Mendez, but not how or why — making it that much more difficult for her family to grieve. In the Boston Globe, Evan Allen traces the story of Jaimee’s disappearance, the search for her body, and the plea deal that sent her killer to prison for manslaughter but denied her family the fact-finding of a trial.

Jaimee’s father, Steven, tore down the highway from Fryeburg, Maine, where he had moved for work more than a decade before, headed for the Salem office park where his daughter’s jacket had been found. He was big and gruff and covered in tattoos, a man used to knowing what to do. Now, he was baffled and silent.

When he arrived, he watched the beginnings of what would grow into a massive police search that would criss-cross the ponds and swamps and woods and sky of the North Shore. That morning, a handful of officers and their K9s assembled and dispersed into the trees beyond the parking lots and drab, low-slung buildings.

The police knew more than they were saying, Steven thought. They weren’t calling anyone or putting up fliers — they were searching the forest floor with dogs.

This was not how police searched for a person, Steven thought. This was how they searched for a body.

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