National awards in Lindsey’s return

Published 2:50 pm Friday, May 21, 2004

By Staff
GRAND RAPIDS -- U.S. Attorney Margaret M. Chiara, a former Cass County prosecutor, announced from Grand Rapids Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Meyer, FBI Special Agent Roy Johnson of St. Joseph and Cass County Sheriff's Office Capt. Lyndon Parrish have been awarded the 2004 National Missing Children's Award for their outstanding work in the successful investigation and prosecution of Terry Drake.
Drake, a convicted killer from Middlebury, Ind., abducted 14-year-old Lindsey Ryan from her Jones home in March 2003. She was missing for 24 days after climbing out of her bedroom window before being found safe in California.
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., presented the awards to the three law enforcement officials integral in her recovery at the ninth annual National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Congressional Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
Following the awards breakfast, a ceremony was held at the Department of Justice, where the honorees were further recognized.
Early on the morning of March 1, 2003, Drake, 57, ushered Lindsey from her home and into a white 1995 Dodge Dakota pickup truck. They took off on what would turn into a 23-day, 2000-mile trek across the country.
Drake befriended her through her church and furthered this relationship through e-mail. He convinced her to take several firearms, as well as cash, from the home of her parents, Patrick and Carol.
At the time, Drake was an unemployed welder who had served 15 years in prison for the kidnapping, rape and murder of an Indiana woman in 1977.
Within hours of Lindsey's disappearance, an Amber Alert was issued in Michigan. The Cass County Sheriff's Office quickly determined that Drake had left Michigan with Lindsey.
On Sept. 25, 2003, Drake was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
pursuant to the mandatory term in the plea agreement. Drake will be 81 years old by the time he is eligible for release.
At the time of Drake's conviction, Cass County Prosecutor Victor A. Fitz commented, "We are so appreciative of the great support we received from state and federal law enforcement, the media and the public in investigating this disappearance. With all of this help, it was our hope and expectation that the girl would be safely returned to her family. We could not have had a better result. It is a great day for law enforcement."
Chiara also acknowledged the close and effective working relationship between local law enforcement in Cass County and the local offices of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
She expressed her appreciation for the dedication and hard work of all those involved.
With respect to the 2004 National Missing Children's Award, Chiara said, "I have great admiration and respect for Capt. Parrish, Special Agent Johnson and AUSA Meyer. Their efforts in this case were truly exceptional and well-deserving of this national award."
Upton was a strong supporter of legislation establishing a coordinated, national Amber Alert system. President George W. Bush signed the measure into law on April 30, 2003.
After Lindsey's abduction, Upton took to the floor of the U.S. House with an enlarged photo of Lindsey and her abductor's vehicle, hoping it might be recognized by C-SPAN viewers.
At the time, the case of Lindsey Ryan highlighted the importance and need for a nationwide Amber Alert. Delays in implementing Amber Alert in states surrounding Michigan caused law enforcement officials to lose valuable time.
Lindsey was halfway across the country, her blonde hair dyed black and the vehicle's appearance altered, when Alerts outside Michigan were finally issued. The new law insures such delays that were experienced in the Ryan case will not be repeated.
Photos of Upton, Ryan and the honorees can be viewed on his Web site,