Published 12:01 am Monday, March 31, 2003
By By JOHN EBY / Edwardsburg Argus
CASSOPOLIS -- Ian Spencer, an alert Frito-Lay driver who recognized Terry Drake's white Dodge Dakota painted black, delivered the Ryan family of Jones the call they craved for 24 days.
Lindsey's mother Carol said Monday her heart thumps in her chest at the thought of finally being reunited with her only daughter, who went out her bedroom window March 1 and left the area with a convicted killer she met at church and conversed with through Internet instant messages.
Spencer notified the California Highway Patrol "and within five minutes they had him in a traffic stop," Cass County Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood Jr. announced.
Drake, 56, of 12480 Pinecone Drive, Middlebury, Ind., faces six separate charges of aiding and abetting in receiving and concealing stolen firearms. Each is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. He will also be charged with solicitation of criminal sexual conduct, third degree (a person age 13-15). That felony charge carries a penalty of five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
Patrick said officers like Underwood, Sgt. Bill Riley and Deputy Bill Bruneau, a chaplain, "are true heroes in that they went over and beyond what the minimum job would require. The dedication was absolutely phenomenal. Behind these are probably hundreds that you don't know and don't see and we didn't see. It makes you want to pay your taxes."
Carol added, "I've been waiting since March 1 to look at those cameras and say, 'Lindsey, we're coming to get you, honey. We love you. I'm so thankful that now we do know where you're at. We could not have done it without all of you. You've walked through the bad days of, 'No news yet.' I've seen the sad looks on your faces, the empathy. I thank you so much for caring about my daughter. I, too, am very thankful for the prayers in the churches and the amount of people who called and said, 'What can we do for you? How can we help?' It was a hard 24 days. We're going to walk through whatever we've got to walk through together as a family, and I'm so glad we've got the opportunity."
Patrick said, "We are grateful and all that, but hopefully you'll understand that when Lindsey comes back we'll be doing what we have to do to put those things together. We'll be kind of private about that. There's a story to be told here and we know that. We don't know what the story is, but the story will be told because this is our Lindsey and she has come back to us. She's alive again and there are thousands of others just like Lindsey in this country. We know that we as a family have an obligation to help others, and we will do that. We know now even more than we've ever known. Hopefully, the press will understand. The press has been very respectful and sensitive and we have nothing bad to say. Hopefully, you can all feel the victory and the success that you have had in this matter because it's there."
The couple had not yet spoken to Lindsey as of 4 p.m., "but we've been assured that will happen very quickly," Patrick said. He was at work and Carol was home when they found out.
Carol learned of Lindsey's rescue "just out of the blue. We had an appointment set with witness assistance from the Attorney General's office at 1. I got a call from Sgt. Riley: 'It's just like you had hoped.' I said flippantly, 'Do you have any news?' because I'd asked him three days in a row. He said, 'I think I have some very good news,' and you get the adrenaline rush, and he said, 'But nothing's been substantiated.' Then I started getting a barrage of media phone calls from the West Coast. My 11-year-old said, 'Don't get excited.' Will and Patrick, my 7- and 8-year-olds, were hopping up and down. Jeremy, my oldest, was gone. We called him on the cell phone and he couldn't believe it."
The Ryans' spirits soared at a point they couldn't sink much lower.
Sunday Carol called her mother and they planned a serenity garden.
Carol hopes to see the Frito-Lay driver in person to bestow on him a "big, fat kiss. He saved my daughter."
The Ryans are making arrangements to go to California in concert with federal and state authorities "on how best to do that," Patrick said. "We are very much cooperating, understanding that from their end there's more to be done here. We are 100-percent supportive of that so we are coordinating with them, and they're being very, very helpful and good about what's best for Lindsey and what's best to get this to the proper conclusion on all fronts."
Underwood had only sketchy details, but he said the delivery driver recognized the license plate number on the freshly-painted vehicle by a gas station and immediately dialed 911.
Within five minutes, two CHiP officers made a traffic stop.