Saturday, June 28, 2014

Part 2: June 28th, Facing Genealogy’s Least Expected Situation

Note to those in Australia, this may post a date later than planned. My apologies. B.

Genealogy often presents us with new challenges that we have to solve and mysteries that we have to unravel so that we can write the true stories of our families. While unusual situations can happen, and do happen, they usually have a thread of normal human nature running through them and for the most part, with work and by talking with other, we can fix our tree or re-write the history that we once thought that we knew so well. It may take years of devotion to learn the truth, or clear it up, but almost always, we can solve the greatest mysteries that genealogy can present. Almost.

Terry James Floyd, circa 1975
(Photo courtesy of Daryl Floyd and
Jennifer Floyd Fildes )
Today, the 28th of June, 2014, marks an anniversary in my family that falls outside of what most genealogists ever face, and I hope that it stays that way. Until I began to find my cousins, I was blissfully unaware that something had happened to our family that rocks us to the core, even now, 39 years later. You see, this is something that goes beyond rules for mere genealogical documentation, or a “reasonably exhaustive search.” This is not a simple adjustment to a branch but is rather a devastating wound in our family tree that runs so deep that it has yet to be resolved. It is something that cannot be solved by spending days or months or even years researching in libraries or archives. It is something that remains a mystery, despite many grueling years of physical labor, the depletion of a small fortune, and a near-endless search, literally through tons of evidence of all kinds. It remains raw and deep, and unresolved, even after thirty-nine years. Thankfully, it is a rare occurrence, and one that I hope that few genealogists will ever have to face. However, our family is not so lucky, yet we are never going to allow the story of Terry James Floyd to be forgotten.

You see, back in 1975, on the last Saturday in June, thirty-nine years ago today, my young cousin, Terry James Floyd, was waiting for his ride near the intersection of Sunraysia Highway and Pyrenees Highway near Avoca in Victoria, Australia, at about 4:45 in the afternoon. By 5 PM he had disappeared. Terry was just twelve years old, but a gifted footballer. Saturdays were devoted to his sport. He was so talented that he played “up” on a team of boys two years older than he was but even so, he was still a star at the game. For some reason on that June day, instead of going with his teammates to watch another team’s match, he decided to visit a friend. While his friend’s mother offered him a ride home, Terry being rather independent, had told the friend’s mum that he had already made arrangements for a ride. Apparently, Terry reached the intersection about 15 minutes late and missed his ride. Terry’s friend last saw him standing at the intersection. By five o’clock, Terry was gone. At seven-thirty that evening, his parents, Ken and Dorothy Floyd, reported him missing. 

There was a search, a "thorough" one. The investigation was just as "thorough," long and excruciating, yet fruitless in making a conviction. The result was immersing the whole family, friends, and associates into a relentless, seemingly endless investigation that spanned decades. Finally, Ken and Dorothy were cleared, but still had to cope with the reality that their boy was inexplicably missing, without a trace. All they ever wanted, my cousin, Jennifer told me, was to bring their boy home.

Yet, Terry has never been seen or heard from again
I am not here to re-report what you can read for yourself below, in the “Resources” list. I am not here to put my family through any more pain by writing what they have already lived out a thousand times, over and over, in their daily lives and in their nightmares. 

Instead, I am here to talk about the meaning of June 28th and about my cousin, Terry James Floyd. I also, want to explain what a toll this has taken on the family as today, the 28th of June is not only the anniversary of Terry’s disappearance, but also the death of his mother, Dorothy Floyd on June 28th, 1987, twelve years to the day after Terry’s disappearance. 

 I am also here as a genealogist, to help explain how to deal with and how to document the unresolved lives, such as Terry’s so that the stories of those missing do not turn to meaningless dust, but instead, will always be remembered, and will have their place in our family histories for forever. Finally, I want to share the effects such a tragedy has on those left behind and how it  effects them and even changes their lives. As I see it, genealogy is about telling the entire story, about documenting the truth as it actually happened, rather than glossing over the scary parts, leaving out the unresolved issues, ignoring the losses, and never mentioning the mysteries. It is about giving every person equal time and remembering them and their lives in a truthful light, even if their story is not tidy, glamourous, or it contains facts that are difficult to hear. To gloss over such a life, or to leave its story untold would be compounding the the losses, the crimes, that Terry and the rest of the family have already endured. So, here is the story...  

I first learned about this story from a mutual cousin in the late 1990s. The specific details were vague, and I did not even know Terry’s name, where in Australia it happened, or if he had been found. I was, I now realize, very wrong for ignoring it, especially since it came from of my own awkward feelings. This is not to say that I should have roared in like the paparazzi but rather, I should have taken careful notes, and respectfully documented his life from a distance.

 Fortunately, I got another chance. Over time, details trickled in but I knew very little until, completely by chance, I became friends with Jennifer, Terry’s oldest sister. From the beginning, Jennifer and I hit it off. Since then, Jennifer and I have been through many things together and despite the distance, she has been my strength, propping me up through some of the roughest battles in my life. She must trust me, too, as her youngest son, Derek, lived with us for several months in 2012. We sent him back intact as anyone could do with any twenty-something male. 

Jennifer Floyd Fildes holding her brother,
Terry Floyd. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer
Floyd Fildes)

Initially, Jennifer told me the basic story of Terry’s disappearance and how it tore a hole in their hearts that has never healed. Slowly, she shared stories of the ensuing agony of living in limbo, never knowing where he was, or if he was alive or dead. Worse, she and her siblings had watched as their parents suffered, worrying and wondering where there son was, but never knowing. She told me that she believed that it was the stress of never knowing that brought on her parents’ early deaths. 

As these anniversaries came and went over the years, I saw the how painful it was for her to endure. The more I learned, the more I understood about what living with such painful, unanswered questions could do to any family. This was not a situation where people can simply deal with it, have closure, and move on, because there is never closure and there are never answers to “get over” it. Situations like this haunt everyone, but it haunts each of them in a different, individual ways, and as such, everyone has to find their own way to mark time, waiting, wondering, and worrying.

Jennifer was just shy of her twenty-first birthday when Terry went missing. She wanted to skip her birthday, but her mother, Dorothy, insisted on celebrating Jennifer’s birthday with a party, despite being under intense scrutiny and stress at the time. Dorothy, though juggling the demands of raising five other children and comforting them through this, never gave up, Yet, her body did. While I cannot speak as a doctor, the mere fact that Dorothy allegedly died twelve years to the minute from the time that Terry was reported missing, speaks in my mind to the intense pressure that she and her husband, my cousin, Ken Floyd, endured. And, as such, today is not only the anniversary of Terry’s  
Dorothy Floyd holding her son, Terry.
(Photo courtesy of Daryl Floyd and
Jennifer Floyd Fildes)
disappearance, but also, the anniversary of their mother’s death, it is a doubly painful date for their family to endure, to simply get through.

Jennifer told me yesterday, “It is so hard at this time will really understand unless it has happened to them. I thought by now, as I grow older , the pain would lessen...but, seems to increase...because you realise how much has been missed....”

Terry is gone, living or not (it is hard for me to say the terminal phrase) and his mother, Dorothy, died young, at the age of 55, having given over so much of her life to worry and grief. Terry’s father, Ken, is also gone, leaving Terry’s siblings and other family members with memories, photos, and their own methods of coping. Some handle it through silence, some through tears. Some like me, who came late to this anything-but-a-party, write about it, while others, such as Terry’s younger brother, Daryl, deal with it in unique ways and through grueling, hard work. 

Two years younger than Terry, Daryl is the definition of devotion and duty. He has taken it upon himself, to learn what happened to his big brother, and for several years now, he and his “crew” have been physically digging up the formerly abandoned, Morning Star Mine, at Bung Bong Hill, near Avoca, Victoria, not far from the place where Terry was last seen. 
Terry's devoted brother, Daryl Floyd at the mine,
with a pile of bones, sewage, and debris from mine.
(Photo courtesy of Daryl Floyd)
Daryl, using his own money, with contributions from his sister, Debbie,  his friends, and a crack team of volunteers, went to work looking for Terry, after new evidence pointed to the mine as a probable location for Terry’s remains. This dig began several years ago, and aided by those same devoted volunteers, they have been plunging into the deep, putrid, sewage-filled, mine shafts,  ever since. The disused mine had been closed long ago, but this foul mix of contents were deposited over the intervening decades when it was used as an unofficial dumping ground for the nastiest waste of all kinds. The waste from mine was pulled out in reverse order beginning with the most recent dumping. Thus, Daryl and his crew have been working backwards, removing the most recent layers, then moving through decades, each layer found being designated with an approximate year, based on the contents within the of layers of filth that they have removed. Huge bucketfuls of automobile engines, raw sewage, and bones of hundreds of cows, plus other animals have been removed, examined and dated, all trying to locate his brother’s remains.
A batch of bones from various animals dug up
from the depths of the Morning Star Mine.
(Photo courtesy of Daryl Floyd)
Whenever bones are found the state of Victoria must examine them to determine whether or not the are human and thus potentially a clue in crime. Terry, sad to say, is one of several children missing for decades in Australia. 

Daryl's photo of his cutaway drawing of the mine
shaft, the "drive" and the levels with details.
(Photo courtsy of Daryl Floyd)
The mine is complicated and reaches over one hundred feet below the surface with multiple shafts and a cross or “drive” as it is called. This is what Daryl wrote in 2013 about the drawing of the work site(see Daryl’s photo of his drawing on right): 

“So here we go Guys, the best way l can show The Mine Search and how we plan to attack it this time. On this diagram you have the Red, Green and Black markings. The Red shaft is the shaft we have cleaned out (it is the one that was opened at the time Terry went missing) The Green one is the one we now have to clean out to gain access at the bottom. The Black one is the drive that runs in a north south direction at the bottom of the shafts...Now hopefully l can explain this the best way possible. The Red one is the shaft used to dump everything down since the early 1970'sand we believe also Terry's body, and it goes down to a depth of 180 feet. Unfortunately , everything from 1980 back to the 1970's has been washed down the drive in a northerly direction. We can not continue in this way (the shaft is to tight , small and dangerous ) so now we have to clean out the Green shaft, that was backfilled by the mines dept in 1968 , to gain access to the bottom and then head back along the drive to where we had last finished looking for any dates that could help us and if we have not found anything that indicates we are back to the 1975 mark we then have to head North along the Black drive until we get back to the 1975 era. The main objective for us , is to get back to the 1975 mark ,the year Terry went Missing...Cheers guys l hope that is not to mind blowing but the Map should help.”

 Currently, Daryl and his friends and family have reached a level where they feel that they are locating things placed there in the late 1970s but have closed up the shafts to prevent the winter rains from flooding the mine, weakening the structure, and undoing their excavations.

Again, the details have been told and re-told in the resources listed below, but to get a truly accurate look at a day-to-day picture of one man’s devotion to his brother, you need to visit Daryl’s Facebook Page, “Missing Terry Floyd.” You can find it through this link:
Daryl has given his own money, raised money through fund raisers, and wheedled the authorities to contribute to the costs of the excavation. Still, it is not enough; it is never enough. Recently, the reward for  information toward solving Terry’s case and other cold case investigations was raised, hoping that more evidence with come forth. Until then, Daryl, family, and friends must piece together the funds for the search. Items have been found in the mine that are believed to have belonged to Terry and were with him on that day, indicating that Terry will be found someday, likely in that mine. 
Terry on right holding Aussie Rules
Football with his older brother, Ray.
(photo courtesy of Jennifer Floyd Fildes)

Thirty-nine years have passed and that twelve-year-old, football star has not reappeared. For thirty-nine years, the family has not only not forgotten him, but no one has stopped actively looking for him in Australia. Yes, the mine is promising, but, and I hate to say this, but what if he isn’t to be found in that old mine? Could he be out there, lost, or held captive like others in the slave trade, traumatized enough to have blanked out his previous life? Could he have run off to have an adventure and might be living somewhere else on Earth, cut off from Australian media and unaware of the search for him that has been going on all of these years? Could he be in Europe? In Asia? In North America or South America? Could he be your kid’s coach? Your co-worker? Your husband? Even your father? Take a look around, because no detail is too small to examine and no trail too vague to leave unexamined. Terry would be 51 now.

As another part of our family’s weird, winding road of coincidences, it happens that Terry and my husband were born on the same exact day in the same exact year, just several thousand miles apart. Fortunately, thanks to DNA testing, I am quite sure that my husband is not my cousin, Terry. 

Part of me is cheering for that fairy-tale ending and while everyone else does what they can, all I can do is to ask the rest of you out there, to help. Help by donating, help by looking around, just in case Terry is elsewhere or that the true tale of what happened to him is even more bizarre than the tale that has already been told. Tell the media outside of Australia, not only about Terry’s disappearance but of Daryl’s devotion. Do whatever you can do to get people looking and talking and thinking about this mystery. Help by supporting Daryl (even a few words of support on “Missing Terry Floyd” Facebook page might cheer him up on a rough day) and help by contacting any group that might aide in this search. Terry is lost and until this mystery is solved, our family and friends will not be whole and our story will still have an unsolved mystery that leaves a whole in so many hearts and lives.
The Floyd Family. Terry is in the front row,
lower right hand corner. On left of Terry is
younger brother Daryl and to his left brorther, Ray.
 Back row on left is his oldest sister,
 Jennifer, Mother Dorothy holding Debbie; father, Ken,
 and in front of Ken and behind Terry, is sister, Sheryl.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Floyd Fildes) 

Finally, remember that there are other families out there who have suffered or are suffering a similar fate. Treat them with kindness and compassion and encourage them to remember their loved one rather than letting them fade away.

As a genealogist, I have found that it is important to tell the whole story, not only about this energetic, athletically-gifted, boy, but also about the love and devotion that he inspired in those around him and the sacrifices that they made and pain that they felt in living a life without him. We are all connected and Terry is missing from our lives, but not from our family’s story. 

The three Floyd boys.
L to R: Daryl, Ray, and Terry.
(Photo courtesy of Daryl Floyd)

Resources Consulted

Cattermole, Tony. “Photo may hold key to missing boy case.” The Australian Broadcasting Company. 16 July 2012. Online archives. : accessed 23 June 2014.

Floyd, Daryl. “Missing Terry Floyd.” Facebook, 2014. Online website. accessed 27 June 2014.

“Funds boost search for missing brother's remains.”  The Australian Broadcasting Company, 14 December 2011. Online archive: accessed 27 June 2014.

“Missing Persons - Terrence Floyd .” MAKO/Movement Against Kindred Offenders. 2013 Online database. accessed 27 June 2014.

“Man continues dogged search for missing brother.” The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Updated 16 July 2012. Online archives. accessed 27 July 2014.

Moor, Keith. “Police take on search for missing schoolboy Terry Floyd.” The Herald Sun, 18 November 2010. Online archives. : Accessed 27 June 2014.

Moor, Keith. “Terry Floyd went missing after starring in junior footy game.” The Herald Sun, 10 March 2012, online edition via The Australian. : accessed 24 June 2014.

Moor, Keith. “Daryl Floyd believes brother Terry Floyd's body was hidden in mine shaft.” The Herald Sun, 10 March 2012. Online edition. accessed 27 June 2014.

Moor, Keith. “New lead in Terry Floyd cold case murder investigation points to Raymond Jones.” The Herald Sun, 04 September 2013: Online archive. accessed 27 June 2014.

Worthington, Brett. “Does this mine shaft hold the key to Terry Floyd's disappearance?” The Bendingo Advertiser, 3 February 2012. Online edition. : accessed 24 June 2014.

Worthington, Brett. “Van may hold answers to Terry Floyd disappearance.” The Bendingo Advertiser, 22 June 2014. Online archive. accessed 26 June 2014.