ARCOLA – Despite what the parents of a missing Arcola woman characterize as a threat to keep them quiet, they continue to seek help from the public through reporters in locating their daughter.
At a news conference in Arcola on Wednesday, Rickey Ferguson of Arcola said he and his wife Annette remain committed to keeping information about their daughter, Gwendalyn Marie Maxedon, in the public eye.
Maxedon, 23, left the home that she and two children shared with her parents on July 23 with a boyfriend, Michael McGehe Jr., 24. She also left behind a letter saying she had decided to leave.
But the Fergusons have said they believe McGehe may have forced her into making that decision and cite as evidence the fact that she left two young children behind.
After television news reports of Maxedon's disappearance aired on Monday, July 28, the Fergusons said a friend of their daughter called them. The friend had been contacted by someone telling the Fergusons to get the story of their daughter out of the news media "or else." Asked what that meant, the caller repeated the statement in a "more harsh and emphatic" way, Rickey Ferguson said.
He said he and his wife perceived the call as a threat putting their daughter in more jeopardy and decided then not to speak to the media anymore.
But on Tuesday, a private investigator the Fergusons hired to help them find their daughter advised them to continue talking.
"It has now been eight days since our daughter's mysterious disappearance," Ferguson said Wednesday.
"Not once during this span of time has our daughter communicated in any way with her two young children – children that up until her disappearance she had loved and cared for, children that she had laughed and played with, children that she had sought on a daily basis to provide with a quality, disciplined, cultured, healthful, and most of all, loving home and family environment, children that she has nurtured and cared for throughout their entire young lives," he said.
"In our circle of friends and throughout our community, many would testify that there is absolutely no way that our daughter would willingly walk away from her children, her family or her friends."
Maxedon's children are ages 3 and 5. She left home after dropping them off at day care on July 23. The 5-year-old boy is due to start kindergarten in a few weeks, Ferguson said.
Douglas County Sheriff John Chambers said his office continues to "put forth every effort" to find Maxedon, including putting out nationwide teletypes to other police agencies about Maxedon and McGehe.
You can reach Mary Schenk at (217) 351-5313 or via e-mail at email@example.com.