Thirteen-year-old Lilly Wind was reported missing 20 years ago today.
The last time her mother, Rachel, saw her was the day before, outside Mother Truckers on the San Juan Ridge.
“I have not heard a word (from Lilly) in all these years,” Rachel Wind said Tuesday. “I believe my daughter is dead.”
There have been many rumors regarding Lilly’s fate through the years.
In the first five months after her daughter’s disappearance, Rachel Wind said she received two collect phone calls that supposedly were from Lilly. Each time, no one spoke on the other line, and the call was disconnected.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever get closure,” she said. “I’ve lived with this for 20 years ... I should never have called her a runaway — what a big mistake that was. (The disappearance) was never handled properly. There’s a lot of regrets.”
Rachel Wind described her daughter — who would be 33 years old today — as extremely extroverted and open.
Lilly was “one of the most incredible girls I’ve ever known,” her mother said. “She was very bold and brave, even at a young age. She was always 20 feet ahead of me.”
Abby Chroman was only 8 when Lilly vanished, but the tragedy has always haunted her.
Lilly often stayed at her house when she was younger, and had been home-schooled with Abby and her sister, Thea, said Chroman’s mother, Julie Childs.
“She just really interested me,” Chroman said. “We were told she had been kidnapped; it was terrifying.”
Those memories of Lilly stayed with Chroman and eventually found their way into some of her writings — and then into an experimental film shot by Chroman’s boyfriend, Wil Kristin, titled, “Lilly.”
Chroman showed the short film to Rachel Wind this spring.
It depicts a young girl running free through fields and dabbling her feet in a river, intercut with more ominous shots of a road unspooling through forest. The piece ends with the same young girl trying to hitch a ride, facing the camera with a direct stare.
“It really captured my memory of Lilly,” Childs said. “Lilly was a really fun kid ... She grew up so fast.”
For a long time, many of Wind’s friends held out hope that Lilly would come home safe.
“We kept thinking she’ll turn up, she’ll write, she’ll call,” Childs said.
“It’s the saddest thing in the world that (Rachel) has no closure,” said a friend who asked to not be identified. “Lilly had a lot of personality. She seemed older than she was, in spirit, but she also wanted to be free — at too young of an age.”
“We do miss her, very much,” Rachel Wind said. “She was a wonderful part of my life and I am so glad she was a part of my life.
“We were never able to rescue her, that’s one of my deep sadnesses, that we were never able to rescue her so that she could grow up ... She never got to grow up.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has urged anyone with information regarding Lilly Wind to call 1-800-THE-LOST.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4229.