Where are the Kids

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<P>One late summer night, three kids were waiting for their parents to say 'Goodnight' when they heard a thumping noise.</P>

<P>''What was that,'' said Amanda, the youngest.</P>

<P>''I don't know,'' said Joshua, the middle boy.</P>

<P>''Maybe it's just the wind,'' said Jake, the oldest boy. </P>

<P>Just then, a man jumped right through their open window. "Shut up or I will kill your entire family!" he hissed. After gathering them all at knife-point, in the corner of the room, he knocked them out.  Carrying them all, one-by-one, out the window, he put them into a white van. </P>

<P><STRONG><I>~20 minutes later~</I></STRONG></P>

<P>The parents went into the kids' room to say goodnight.</P>

<P>"Stop hiding, it's time to go to bed," said the mother.</P>

<P>Immediately, the father noticed the missing screen on the window, and grew concerned. Frantically, the parents began searching for their kids, but couldn't find them anywhere, so they called the police.</P>

<P>"My kids have been kidnapped! Please, you have to help me find them!" panicked the mother.</P>

<P>"What's your name and address?" asked the dispatcher.</P>

<P>"Karen Underwood. My address is 426 Sparrow Court. Hurry, you have to come right now!" </P>

<P>20 questions later, the dispatcher advised, "We'll be there in a minute." </P>

<P><EM><B>~10 minutes later~</B></EM></P>

<P>As he sat watching Monday Night Football, Detective Al kicked his feet up on his recliner, laid back, and enjoyed the peaceful night off. Just as the San Diego Chargers kicked the final field goal to win the game, his cell phone chirped. He threw his head back on the chair, knowing that sound only meant one thing...there had been a kidnapping.</P>

<P>Detective Al had worked in the San Diego Police Department's Missing Persons Division for the last 14 years, and was considered one of the best in his field.</P>

<P>He picked up his cell phone and called dispatch to let them know he received the message and was on his way to the scene. On his way, he read the specifics of the case and was disgusted by what he'd read. Three young children had been taken from the comfort of their own home.</P>

<P><EM><B>~30 minutes later~</B></EM></P>

<P>Detective Al arrived on scene and immediately asked to speak to the officer in charge. A short, fat, middle-aged white man approached him and nodded.</P>

<P>"What happened here?" asked Detective Al.</P>

<P>"Well, it appears three children were taken from the bedroom on the west side of the house. The perp took the screen off and jumped through the open window. I know it's hot out tonight, but I don't know how many cases I've worked where kids go missing because their windows aren't locked. When are parents going to learn?" he says.</P>

<P>This officer has obviously been on the job too long, and lost all compassion for the victims. Detective Al was the best because he had compassion. He had been a victim of the same crime many years ago. He never talked about it, but everybody knew. Sometimes, he could hear the whispers, <I>"I heard he has huge scars on his back! He was locked in a closet and didn't eat for an entire week!" </I></P>

<P>Detective Al glared at the officer, "I don't want your opinion, just give me the facts of the crime. Have you called the Crime Scene Unit?"</P>

<P>"Yes sir, their E.T.A. is approximately five minutes."</P>

<P>"And where are the parents? Have they been questioned?"</P>

<P>"No sir, they're still inside. We were waiting for you."</P>

<P>"Close off every square foot of this property, and get your men out of my crime scene before they ruin good evidence!" </P>

<P> "Yes sir," the officer snapped and scurried away. </P>

<P>Detective Al entered the house to meet with the distraught parents. Sitting at the kitchen table were a wealthy looking white couple in their mid 40s. The mother appeared to be crying into the fathers' shoulder as he reassuringly whispered in her ear that everything was going to be okay. The look on his face told Detective Al otherwise.</P>

<P>"Mr. and Mrs. Underwood," Detective Al interrupted.</P>

<P>The mothers head quickly snapped up, "Did you find them?" </P>

<P>"No ma'am, not yet, but we are doing everything we can to find them as soon as possible," he reassured.</P>

<P>"Well then what are you doing here? You should be out there looking for my children!" </P>

<P>"I just have a few questions for you, and then I will join the search for your children ma'am."</P>

<P>"Questions, Haven't I answered enough questions? I don't know what happened! Someone came into my home and took my-my-" she began to sob, "-my babies!" She got up from the table, sobbing, and disappeared, leaving the father at the table with Detective Al. </P>

<P>The father let out a long sigh, "All we know is that the kids were in their room preparing to go to sleep. We came in to say 'Goodnight' when we noticed the broken window. We looked all over for the kids, but they're nowhere to be found. Please, you have to find our children!" The father stood up, nodded at Detective Al, and followed his wife.</P>

<P>By this time, the Crime Scene Unit had arrived on scene and began processing the scene. Detective Al entered the bedroom and saw the broken window screen. He notices a technician who is dusting for fingerprints. "Ahem," he interrupts, "did the perp leave any usable fingerprints on the window?" </P>

<P>"Hey Al, nope, I haven't found a thing. I don't like to guess, but I think he, or she, may have worn gloves."</P>

<P>Detective Al recognized the technician from previous crime scenes. He was a fairly young black man, maybe 30, who processed every crime scene by the book. Detective Al respected this quality because when dealing with evidence, there's no room for mistakes.</P>

<P>"Alright Thomas, let me know if you find anything. I'm going to see what we've got outside." </P>

<P>Al exited the house and walked alongside the entire perimeter closest to the house. With his flashlight, he examined every object in the dirt and grass that crossed his path. Standing directly in front of the window the children were taken from, he shined his flashlight toward the street where the perp's vehicle may have been.</P>

<P>Immediately, the glow of something in the light caught his trained eyes. Staying in the path of the light, he walked over to the curb and kneeled down. Hanging over the curb was a small piece of white cloth. Using the pen from his shirt pocket, he picked it up, and instantly, the smell of the chemical that had been used to knock the kids out filled his nostrils. The odor so strong, it caused his eyes to well up with tears.</P>

<P>That smell always reminded him of his own horrific ordeal so many years ago.</P>

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