A woman awakens from a coma to discover that her husband had died, then she sees her father-in-law take her two young children into the woods.
When Erin Tyrell woke up, she couldn’t remember where she was supposed to be. Everything hurt, and she felt woozy. She put her hand up to her head, and someone sitting next to her got up.
“Erin,” said a soft voice. “Erin, thank God you’re awake.” Erin recognized her father-in-law, Lance. But where was her husband? Where was Don? Then Erin saw the grief in Lance’s eyes, and she knew that Don was dead.
Weeks later, Erin was finally released from the hospital and allowed to go back to her home in Hermann, Missouri. The car accident that had proved fatal to her young husband had left her with severe injuries.
The doctors told her that with a lot of therapy she might regain 40% mobility in her legs. “But I have babies!” Erin cried. “What am I going to do?”
Lance was there right by her side and he said, “Erin, I’m going to be there to help you and my grandchildren in whatever you need. You can count on me!”
Erin’s life was very different now. Even though she and Don had had some problems early in their marriage she had loved him dearly and missed him, so did their two children Sally, 5, and Don Jr., who was just 3.
A true friend will never give up on you.
Erin didn’t know what she would have done without Lance. She was still bed-ridden, and a physiotherapist came to their home three times a week to work with her. Lance did everything for her and the children.
Erin’s worse enemy in her slow recovery was the pain. The doctors had prescribed strong painkillers, but she was reluctant to use them, and she was often wide awake for most of the night, battling the pain.
One morning, just as the horizon was starting to fade to pale grey, Erin heard the back door open and was stunned to see Lance walk across the backyard to where the forest encroached on their land.
He was leading Sally and Don Jr. by the hand, and Erin was about to call out to them. Then she thought that maybe Lance was taking the children out to see the sunrise, or pick mushrooms.
She lay back. Lance was so good to the children and to her! It was hard to believe he was the same man who had shown how much he disliked her early in her marriage. She fell asleep and woke to a nightmare.
The bright sun was pouring into her room when Lance ran in. “Erin!” he cried, distraught. “The children, the children are gone!”
Erin sat up as straight as she could on her bed. “Gone? What do you mean gone?”
“I just woke up and went to make them breakfast, but they aren’t in their rooms!” Lance gasped. “Someone took them!”
“Someone?” asked Erin, wondering if this was some kind of prank. “YOU took them! I saw you take them out of the backyard and into the woods early this morning!”
A true friend will never give up on you.
When he heard her words, a terrible expression crossed Lance’s face. “Stupid cripple! You’ve spoiled everything!” he screamed and ran out of the room. Erin heard his car start and speed away.
She grabbed her cell phone and called the police. When they heard her story, they were stunned. Why would Lance kidnap his own grandchildren? And where could they be?
Fortunately for Erin, one of the police officers was an old high school friend, Chuck Newman. Chuck had always had a crush on Erin, and he knew she was a truthful woman.
The police chief ordered searches of the woods, but there was no sign of the children, and an APB on Lance found neither hide nor hair of him. Two weeks after Erin reported the children missing, the chief ordered the case closed.
Chuck was puzzled. At the very least, the Amber Alert on Sally and Don Jr. should remain active, he thought, but the chief had classified the disappearance as a ‘custody dispute.’
Chuck decided to do some digging on his own, and three days later, he came to see Erin. “Erin, I think I found your children, but they are in another state and I have no jurisdiction.”
“I’m their mom,” Erin said. “I have sole custody since Don is dead.”
“Don…I never understood why his funeral was out of town,” Chuck said. “Was that your decision, Erin?”
“No,” Erin said. “After the accident, I was in a coma for weeks. Lance took care of everything. He had Don buried in Jefferson City, in the family mausoleum. Didn’t you go to the funeral?”
Chuck shook his head. “Lance only told us about it later,” Chuck explained. “But I’m starting to have my suspicions…”
The next day, Chuck and Erin drove to Springfield Illinois. “I tracked some of Lance’s ATM transactions, and I think he’s here in Springfield. There is also a house registered in Lance’s name.”
“My children, I want to see my children,” Erin cried. And soon she did. She and Chuck watched through the kitchen window of the house that belonged to Lance as he dished out soup to Sally and Don Jr.
But soon, Erin had an even bigger surprise: a tall blond woman walked into the kitchen, and right beside her was Don, her supposedly dead husband! While Erin watched disgusted as Don kissed and fondled the woman in front of her children, Chuck called the Illinois State Police.
Half an hour later, Don, Lance, and the woman were walking out of the house in handcuffs, and Erin was hugging her children. It turned out that Don had seen their car accident as an opportunity to run an insurance scheme.
His lover, the blond woman, was a doctor who had written out a death certificate for the insurance company, and he planned to start a new life with her. But they hadn’t counted on Erin’s injuries being so severe.
After a few months, Lance had grown sick of looking after Erin, and so he and Don had planned the kidnapping. Now the kidnapping was yet another charge on their docket and they ended up making a plea deal for 10 years in prison.
As for Erin, her recovery was complete, to the doctors’ astonishment, but they hadn’t counted on the power of love. Two years after the accident, Erin walked down the aisle and married Chuck, who adopted Sally and Don. Jr.
What can we learn from this story?
A true friend will never give up on you. Even though the chief of police ordered the case closed, Chuck refused to give up the search for Erin’s children.
Sooner or later, the truth comes out. Lance and Don Sr. set up a criminal scheme and deceived Erin, but they forgot that truth and justice always win out.