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24 years later: The search for missing Trudy Appleby continues

The 11-year-old was reported missing Aug. 21, 1996
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 7:23 AM CDT
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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - Twenty-four years ago, 11-year-old Trudy Appleby disappeared.

And, for each of those 24 years, family and friends have been asking the same question: where is she?

Kelly Carlson, a former neighbor of Appleby’s, said Friday the neighborhood was “scared” and in shock when they learned the girl had disappeared.

“In the days and weeks to follow, there were dogs out here searching, we handed out flyers, we walked and walked for miles because we didn’t have social media,” she said. “The police were out here all the time, the news was out here. We all were scared; we all watched our kids a little closer. It was a terrible day.”

“We want to fill that page without nothing but light for that little girl because that’s what she was,” she said. “She was like a ray of light.”

Through the years, there have been several developments but no solid break in the case.

On Wednesday, the Moline Police Department released the names of two new persons of interest in Appleby’s disappearance - David L. Whipple, 59, of Colona, and Jamison A. “Jamie” Fisher, 45, of Silvis.

Neither has been charged in her disappearance. Both declined to comment when reached by TV6.

Police said this week Whipple is the son-in-law of William “Ed” Smith, who was named a person of interest in 2017. Smith died in 2014.

Fisher is a lifelong family friend of the Smiths, according to police.

The annual vigil for Appleby will not be held this year due to coronavirus concerns. Instead, Carlson encourages people to light a candle between 6 and 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, and post a picture of it on Missing Trudy Appleby Facebook page.

Carlson is an administrator on the page.

“We want to fill that page without nothing but light for that little girl because that’s what she was,” she said. “She was like a ray of light.”

Here are some of the key dates in the case:

Aug. 21, 1996

Appleby is reported missing by her father, Dennis, from their home in Moline. Police say she was last seen near her home, getting into the passenger side of an older model gray-colored vehicle with a man.

In the days leading up to her disappearance, she had asked her father to go spend time with a friend who resided on Campbell’s Island.

Appleby’s father did not allow her to go swimming, but phone records show she may have planned to go ahead with her swimming plans.

August 2017

Police name Smith as a person of interest in the case. Police said Smith had access to a vehicle similar to the one that was described as picking up Appleby the day she disappeared. The investigation showed the particular vehicle may have been scrapped within a short time of the disappearance.

Smith died in December 2014, according to police.

In August 2017, police released information that a witness observed Trudy Appleby with William...
In August 2017, police released information that a witness observed Trudy Appleby with William “Ed” Smith in a late model silver Chevrolet 4-door near Smith’s residence on Campbell’s Island on Aug. 21, 1996, and listed him as a person of interest in the case.(KWQC/Moline Police Department)

October 2017

Police excavate the site of an old home on Campbell’s Island and searched the property after getting a tip. Nothing came out of the search.

July 2018

Billboards with Appleby’s picture go up in East Moline at 19th Street and 5th Avenue and Highway 5 near Barstow Road.

January 2019

Moline police seize a boat believed to be connected to Appleby's disappearance. They along with the FBI were notified of the boat's existence in December 2018 and received information that the boat may have been used to transport Appleby.

The boat is transported to the FBI Crime Lab in Springfield, Ill. for examination by an FBI Evidence Response Team.

Aug. 19, 2020

Police name Whipple and Fisher as persons of interest in Appleby’s disappearance.

On Wednesday, Moline police named David L. Whipple, 59, of Colona, and Jamison A. “Jamie”...
On Wednesday, Moline police named David L. Whipple, 59, of Colona, and Jamison A. “Jamie” Fisher, 45, of Silvis, as persons of interest in the investigation into the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.

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