“HAVE YOU SEEN US?” the words at the top of the flyer read, in large black font, and all in caps.
Below these words were two black-and-white photos, then more verbiage, in a much smaller print.
The missing persons flyer was tacked to a telephone pole at the other end of the small parking lot. The telephone pole was planted in the patch of grass beside the short access road that connected the Pantry Shelf’s parking lot with Ohio Pike.
I was immediately curious. I had to know what this was about before I went inside the store. (I had already delayed my entry into the store over mere hoofprints, after all.) In a small community like Clermont County, a missing person case was a rather big deal.
And this appeared to be a case of two people missing.
As I drew closer, the faces in the photos began to take shape. The one on the left was a young man, with dark, longish hair, and the skimpy mustache of a teenage boy. The photo on the right was of a young woman, with shoulder-length blonde or light brown hair.
The photos were obviously mimeographed from the pages of a high school yearbook. I read the captions beneath the pictures. The young man was identified as Robert McMoore. The young woman’s name was Donna Seitz.
Beneath their names, their birthdates were also printed. Both of them were born in 1956, which made them twenty years old.
I didn’t recognize either Robert McMoore or Donna Seitz, but the three of us may have crossed paths at one time or another. McMoore and Seitz were three years older than me. They might have been seniors at West Clermont High School when I was a freshman. Even if they had attended nearby South Clermont High School, they were well within my extended sphere. I just hadn’t met either one of them yet.
And based on the information contained in this flyer, the odds were high that I wasn’t ever going to meet them:
“Robert McMoore and Donna Seitz, both age 20, have been missing since Saturday, May 22, 1976.
The pair was last seen departing from the residence of Donna Seitz, at 4573 Cumberland Dr., around 7 PM on May 22, 1976. According to the parents of the missing young people, the two had planned to see a movie at the Eastland Drive-In.
McMoore and Seitz departed in McMoore’s vehicle, a blue 1969 Chevrolet Impala, Ohio license plate number 918-QNB.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of McMoore and/or Seitz, please contact the Clermont County Sheriff’s Department, at the number listed below.”
I stood there looking at the flyer, the noontime sun lightly stinging my face.
It was a lot to take in.
Robert McMoore and Donna Seitz might be found, of course. There might be a perfectly logical explanation for two local young people disappearing into thin air.
But for some reason, I didn’t think so.
To the best of my knowledge, no one had ever gone missing in Clermont County before. Not for two weeks, anyway.
Clermont County was no idyllic Mayberry. We had our share of petty crime. There were biker bars, and biker bars brought fights, drugs…the usual problems. Every other year there would be a homicide in Clermont County, usually attributed to a personal feud or a domestic dispute.
Clermont County wasn’t, however, a place where you had to worry about serial killers.
And that was the explanation that sprung, unbidden and immediate, into my mind. A serial killer got them.
That was the only explanation I could reckon. How else could McMoore’s car disappear, too, for two whole weeks?
I had an unwelcome thought: McMoore and Seitz were already underwater. The county contained innumerable farm ponds, and a handful of decent-sized lakes. The Ohio River ran along Clermont County’s southern border.
This thought was immediately followed by a sudden, vivid mental image: The bloated bodies of Robert McMoore and Donna Seitz, having been violated in an unspeakable manner by a serial killer, were locked in the trunk of McMoore’s Impala, beneath ten or twenty feet of muddy water.
For a brief moment, I could almost see them.
I shook away the image. What was wrong with me today?
This was shaping up to be a dark afternoon, despite the sunny weather.
The hoofprints were a mystery, and the two missing young people represented an unfortunate situation.
But the hoofprints were ultimately irrelevant, and there was nothing I could do for McMoore and Seitz.
It was high time for me to head inside the Pantry Shelf, already.