At the first sign that something was horribly wrong, Kelsey had gotten up from the armchair she’d been reading in at the library, and proceeded to hide behind it. It wasn’t a perfect hiding place by any stretch of the imagination, but at the very least it was tucked away in one of the corners of the building. She wanted to get up and find a better hiding place, but instead she crouched- paralyzed with fear- holding on to her water bottle as if her life depended on it. Logically speaking, she knew there was only so much she’d be able to do with the water it contained if she were to come under attack, but it was better than nothing.
She tensed at the sound of footsteps, ready to… well, she wasn’t sure what she was getting ready to do, actually. Shrink further into the shadows? Spring out and attempt to attack while she had the element of surprise on her side?No, that was stupid- unable to see from her hiding place, she didn’t even know if the newcomer was an enemy. After a moment’s deliberation, she repositioned herself as quickly and silently as she could, managing to adjust her view to include a sliver of the room beyond the armchair. Much to her surprise, the newcomer was very clearly not an enemy.
Still worried about attracting unwanted attention by making noise, she poked her head out from behind the armchair, imploring Emily as best she could to notice her without speaking.
Kelsey Smith, 18, had graduated from high school 10 days ago. She was celebrating six months together with her boyfriend on June 2nd, 2007. She was supposed to go out for dinner with him, but still needed to get him a gift. So in the evening of that hot Saturday, she drove to the Target in Oak Park Mall, in Overland Park, Kansas.
While she was inside the store, she called her mother, who was at home with the rest of the family. Soon after that, Kelsey’s boyfriend, John Biersmith arrived to her house with flowers. She hasn’t arrived yet, so he waited for her inside.
But Kelsey never came home. Her concerned parents contacted the police and the search started. Later that day, they found her car in the parking lot across the street.
They requested her cell phone records to try to locate her, but it took Verizon four days to turn them in. On June 6th, thanks to a ping in a tower, they found her body in a wooded area around 20 miles from where she had been abducted. She had been raped and strangled to death with her own belt.
Finding the culprit
One of the first things the police did while looking for Kelsey was to check the security cameras in Target and the parking lot. They saw the teenager walking inside, and leaving the store towards her car. All seemed normal at first.
Then, checking the cameras where her car had been parked, they saw that someone had left it there two hours after Kelsey’s disappearence, but all they could see of the person who was driving was a white shirt and dark pants. It was too dark to make out anything else.
So they looked better. And they realized that a young man wearing a white shirt and dark pants could be seen inside Target, at a discreet distance from Kelsey in several shots, clearly tailing her.
More horrifying, when they checked again the footage of Target’s parking lot, they noticed something they hadn’t seen before: when Kelsey is getting inside her car to leave, a figure in white runs towards her before the car leaves.
Police released the very unclear picture of their subject and a tip led them to Edwin Hall. The 26 year old was about to leave town with his wife and kid when the police arrested him, on the same day Kelsey’s body was found.
Hall was a sexual predator with a juvenile record. He was adopted at 7, but returned to the state at 15 because he threatened his adopted sister with a knife. He also was guilty of assaulting another kid with a baseball bat.
Although at first he denied any involvement, the evidence against him was overwhelming. Not only they had the security footage, but also his fingerprints were found in Kelsey’s car and his DNA inside her. On July 23rd, Hall pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Hall didn’t know Kelsey, he just noticed her in Target while he was looking for a prey. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, which makes this case even more heartbreaking.
Kelsey’s parents fought for and succeeded in the creation of Kelsey’s Law, that forces cell phone companies to ping a mobile when the user could be in danger.
Non me ne vado.” Sussurrai. “Te l’ho già detto, non vado da nessuna parte.”
“Questo è quello che dicono tutti prima di andare via.” Disse. “Tutti mi lasciano alla fine.”
“Non sono tutti.” Dissi accarezzandogli la guancia. “Non vado via.”
“Prometti?” Sussurrò, mentre i suoi occhi mi pregavano di non andare via.