Some of you who know me or have read my stuff know about Bob Harrod. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will recap. Bob was my neighbor across the street in CA. I knew him for seven years, from when he moved in until I moved out. I would have to say that during that time, we were each other’s best friend. Bob was there when I was out of work and when family problems arose. He was instrumental in me joining the Masons. I was there for him when his wife was sick and dying. I was one of the few people invited to her memorial at sea. I was also the one who drove him to the animal shelter to have their beloved dog put to sleep. I also buried the dog in the back yard for him so she would always be close by. I was one of the first people to find out about Fontelle, his new/old love from years back. They were reunited in early 2009. He shared with me about their marriage.
I can count on one hand how many people I miss from CA. Bob is definitely one of them. On the day before we left, I made a special trip to see Bob and say goodbye. We were both upset about the conditions under which I was leaving. I did not want to go and he did not want me to go.
Bob vanished from his home on July 27, 2009. I had left for VA the Monday before. I received an email from a neighbor about it on Tuesday. I was in East TN. I was shocked. Fontelle was supposed to arrive back in CA on Wednesday, July 29.
The police immediately showed their incompetence. The first story was the Bob was suffering from dementia and had wandered away while his son-in-law was at the store. Then, they said he had gotten cold feet and ran away from his new bride. The press was just as helpful. They printed these stories like they were gospel. Eventually, they got around to interviewing Bob’s children and new wife, Fontelle. I figured I would be getting a phone call next. I was one of his closest friends at the time. I had a lengthy conversation with him a week before. I could easily attest to his mental state and feelings for Fontelle. I never heard from them. I contacted the reporter that did the story. Never heard back from him, either.
I talked to Fontelle on and off to see how things were going. She said she gave my name and number to the police. She would ask if they ever called. They never did. Eventually, I did receive a phone call from a private investigator. He said he was hired by Bob’s daughters. I was so glad to hear from him. We talked to a couple of hours about what Bob was like, how I knew him, what I thought of the case, and what might have happened. I only talked to him that one time.
Then, I found a website of people discussing the case. I read the whole thing. It was only up for 60 days. Bob’s children had posted to the website. I tried to contact the one I knew well. She never returned any of my calls. One day, an attorney representing Fontelle called me. We had pretty much the same conversation as I had with the private investigator. I told him about the website. When it ended, I printed off every page of it and mailed it to Fontelle. She does not have access to a computer.
Around May, a reporter for the LA Times called me. She had also received my number from Fontelle. She said she was doing a follow up story on Bob. I was glad to talk to her. I asked her if she had talked to the daughters as well. She said they had not returned her messages. She had to go with the story without their input. It was a good story about Bob. I was glad to see there was still interest in the case.
In June, I was contacted by a woman who was part of an armchair detective website. They had a board about Bob’s case. They posted theories, questions, articles, etc. Last Friday she sent me a post where I was mentioned. I was intrigued and logged on. I spent most of the weekend posting on the site and answering questions. I was amazed at the interest in the case after a year. One of Bob’s daughters was watching also. She sent me a threatening message to stop posting. I continued to post anyway. Most of what I said was public knowledge. Sometimes I would correct what I perceived as errors in some of the articles. I was not saying anything about the case, itself. For one thing, I do not know much since the police never contacted me. Second, things that I do know, I was asked not to tell. So, I don’t.
It was a mixed blessing this weekend. I was happy to talk about Bob. At the same time, I was sad to think of how the police had mishandled this case from the start. They talk big about covering all angles and leaving no stone unturned. Well, if that is true, why I have I not been contacted? I have tried. They are not interested in me or what I may know about Bob. I am not sure if I could help now, but if I had been contacted at the beginning, I could have helped. Some people on the board said they are going to contact the police and ask why I was left out. I thank them, but I do not think it will do much good.
They ask what I think. I think a small town police department bungled a missing persons case to the point they were afraid to ask for help. It is my understanding they have not reached out to other law enforcement agencies for assistance. I guess they feel it is just some old man who wandered away. Well, he wasn’t. He was a friend, husband, father, and grandfather. He was also a good man. My opinion is if he had been some young, hot, blonde coed partying in some exotic, tropical paradise, everyone would still be on the case. We would have wall-to-wall media coverage of every aspect of this case. But, since that is not the case, this old man is destined to just fade away and be forgotten. Bob Harrod was too good a man for this to be his fate.