By Nichole Giles
Today I had a breakthrough. In previous blogs, I have written of a man who was kidnapped by hitchhikers, driven hundreds of miles from home, and left—bound and gagged—in the desert to die. This man was my grandfather, and I am writing his story.
Research is such an intimidating word. The very thought of it sounds heavy and burdensome to people. It is especially tiresome when the thing you are researching cannot be found online. “What? You mean I have to go to the library and look it up?”
You can imagine my foreboding when I realized that the newspaper clippings in my grandmother’s basement would not give me enough information to write this story correctly. You see, there is no book that contains court transcripts and police reports. There is no encyclopedia to tell me the facts. There is no library I can visit that will tell me exactly what happened that day, or on the days that followed. I want to know what became of the kidnappers, and where they ended up later in life, but there is no book written that will tell me these things. Yet.
I started out with a fifty-year-old hand typed court subpoena, and proceeded to call the police agencies that were involved in this case. Unfortunately, for some strange reason the people in charge of keeping the records don’t keep police reports for fifty years. Next, I emailed the archives in Albuquerque, New Mexico—where the criminals were tried.
But, they did link me to a website, which gave me contact information for three other places. On the third call, I was given a phone number for a federal court information center, where a cheerful man named Jesse found an index card and faxed me a copy. He then gave me another phone number.
I practically vibrated with excitement when I made the next call and the person was not only friendly, but also helpful. When Rob—the voice on the other end of the line—pulled out the case file, he got very excited. “I can send you copies of everything you want, but there is some stuff I can’t copy,” he said. In the background I could hear voices and exclamations. “What can’t you copy?” I asked, wondering if there was some legal reason it couldn’t be copied, and what I would have to go through to look at whatever it was. “It’s some sort of hanger looking thing, or wire. And some clothes. And, some strange books. Hey, this case is really cool,” he said with his voice full of excitement.
I was shocked. They still have the physical evidence? “Are the books scriptures?” I asked, knowing that scriptures were involved. “Hmm,” he said. “Well, it’s not the bible, but it does say published by the Presidency of the Presiding Bishopric. Looks like some sort of study guide.”
Since the National Archives in Denver were closing for the night, Rob had to go. He’ll be calling me back soon, though, when he finishes making my copies and tracking down a digital camera so he can take pictures of the evidence. After two months of searching, I feel like I have found a priceless treasure. When I think about it, all the phone calls and emails, all the time I have spent tracking these things down has been worth it. I guess researching isn’t so bad after all. Especially once you have found what you are looking for.
Today I found a personal treasure, one that no one else has bothered to look for. Today, I am rich with information and I can’t wait to share it with the world.