http://www.tylerpaper.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070731/NEWS08/707310325Mother's Search For Daughter Continues
Janice Norwood's phone rang at 4:30 p.m. Her 12-year-old daughter Kimberly was on the line begging to let a friend come over and spend the night.
It's a school night. There are chores to do. The house is a mess. Family's coming over.
Whichever of the dozen reasons Mrs. Norwood gave her daughter, Kimberly wouldn't listen and they both hung up angry. That was the last time a mother would hear from her daughter. That was 18 years ago.
A MOTHER'S FEARS
Kimberly Rachelle Norwood was last seen May 20, 1989, walking on Barnes Road with three of her friends. The group split up about a mile from Kimberly's home in the Caney Creek Estates subdivision, at the time a remote area between between Marshall and Halton where the landscape consisted of thick woods and dirt roads.
For years the Norwood family battled the question of "what if."
What if they had let Kimberly's friend spend the night of the disappearance? What if they asked her to drive into town with them that afternoon?
As the months melted into years, the pain of losing a daughter was constant. Now she realizes questioning her actions will not bring Kimberly home.
"I can't move forward, but I can't change the past," Mrs. Norwood said.
Mrs. Norwood's efforts to find her daughter have gone far and wide. She appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1989, Missing Rewards in 1990, The Montel Williams Show in 1998 and an episode of The Maury Show in 1991 that never aired.
"I've tried everything, but apparently not done the right things," she said.
Relying on information from police has been hard for Mrs. Norwood, who continues to hope that her little girl, who would be a 30-year-old woman, is still alive.
Every scenario of what could have happened to Kimberly has run through her mother's mind at one time or another. She's considered murder, kidnapping, even Stockholm Syndrome.
"I believe she's still alive. But I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought of her dead," Mrs. Norwood said.
Thoughts of death don't last long. Mrs. Norwood pushes them, along with the doubt and fear, to the back of her mind.
"If you don't have any proof they are dead, you have to keep looking. You can't give up. I won't give up," she said. "No one can understand the determination of a mother to find her child."
Authorities have followed tips in South Texas, New York, Oregon and parts of the Midwest. There have been reports of inmates claiming to have abducted her daughter and calls from prisoners trying to use information as bargaining chips to reduce their sentence, and every time the leads turn cold the disappointment begins all over again.
There have been many leads over the years. For a while, the leads gave her hope, and then the dead ends broke her heart.
At first, she would watch television programs on missing persons to gather ideas.
"I kept thinking I would learn something to help find Kim, but I finally realized it was not that easy," she said.
On television shows like Cold Case and Without a Trace, the mysteries are solved in an hour, less considering commercial breaks.
But, Mrs. Norwood has been struggling with her mystery for 18 years.
"The only thing I know is somebody took her out of the subdivision," Mrs. Norwood said.
For now she continues to hope, pray and, most importantly, share her story.
"I believe if I keep talking about it, one day I will talk to the right person and get some help."
LIVING IN THE SHADOW
In 1989 the Norwood family home was located in a densely wooded, sparsely populated subdivision.
The house in which the family lived when Kimberly disappeared was torn down four years ago and the Norwood family moved, but they didn't move far. The lot where it once stood can be seen through their new home's living room window.
On warm summer days, like the one on which her daughter disappeared, Mrs. Norwood finds herself wandering over to that window to peer outside.
"We didn't want to move far. I'm always looking, because I may see her come up the drive. This is where she knew to find us, if she could ever get away," Mrs. Norwood said.
The neighborhood is now illuminated with street lights and a blacktop road covers what was once dirt and gravel.
"I remember her as 12 years old. I can't imagine her as 30," she said.
Some years ago, Mrs. Norwood decided to donate many of her daughter's personal belongings to charity. At 12, little girls grow fast. She wouldn't be able to wear the old clothes.
Some of her daughter's more sentimental belongings Mrs. Norwood decided to keep - a saddle blanket, and stuffed toys, kept with a scrapbook jammed with news articles and missing person clippings about the search.
"I always thought when we found her I could show her how hard we looked for her. I didn't want her to ever think we stopped looking," she said.
Amid the newspaper clippings, missing posters and photographs are the only current images Mrs. Norwood has of her daughter.
Two age progressions were done, one to 23 years old and again to 30.
While Mrs. Norwood doesn't think the photos look exactly how she imagined her daughter would look, she can still see bits of her little girl through the manipulated images.
"I would like to say yes, I would recognize my daughter if I saw her, but a lot of time has passed. I don't know," she said.
Kimberly, known as Kim to her family, was two weeks from finishing Hallsville Middle School and entering Hallsville Junior High when she went missing. The long-legged, brown-eyed girl with wavy hair loved riding horses, spending time with friends and playing with her sister. She did well in school and tested into two accelerated learning classes.
At the time of her disappearance Kimberly was last seen wearing black "Keds" tennis shoes, blue or black jeans, a white T-shirt with a picture of a cow on the front with the words "Milk Dudes." She had a black bow in her hair, a Swatch watch, and was wearing a gold ring with an aquamarine stone.
For years the community speculated that Kimberly had just walked away, but eventually when there was no word of Kim's whereabouts, they all came to realize what Janice Norwood knew all along: Her daughter did not run away.
Her nearly two-decade search for her daughter has led Mrs. Norwood to realize she is not alone in this tragedy.
The 58-year-old woman has suffered the loss of a daughter, breast cancer, a debilitating accident and most recently a heart attack. Still, she's found ways to reach out to families of other missing persons.
She has offered advice and words of encouragement to the family of Megan Garner, a 3-year-old who disappeared from a Tyler playground in 1991.
When the first search for Brandi Wells was held in Longview, Mrs. Norwood was recovering from surgery.
She couldn't assist in the field search, but helped by manning the phones.
"We've had 18 years of on-the-job training experience. If I can help anyone in any way I will," she said. "Sometimes I feel bad, like I'm not doing the right thing because I've not found Kim."
In May 2006, Mrs. Norwood traveled to Austin for the establishment of Texas Missing Children's Day, a day when neighborhoods across Texas are asked to leave their porch lights on to remember children who went missing.
"They're kids. They didn't ask to be born and they didn't ask to be taken. It's our responsibility to find them," she said.
On Saturday, the fourth search is planned to find Brandi Wells, a 23-year-old who disappeared from a Longview Night Club in the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2006.