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fbi badge

Almost thirty years ago, my mom and I were headed to Daytona Beach for Spring Break with my two-year-old daughter, my teen sister and her best friend. We checked in at Treasure Island, a high-rise hotel. When we went back down, we discovered that someone had broken the back window out of my mom’s car. The hotel arranged a rental car for us, and we took Mom’s car to an auto-body shop.

The next day was great. We decided to go over to DisneyWorld for a day before we went to the beach. We were all having fun, but as the afternoon wore on,  Sarah, my daughter, began to run a fairly high fever and we decided to take her to the local emergency room.

Sarah had an ear infection. We picked up the antibiotic and headed back to our hotel.

We were getting settled in; the others were going to eat while I stayed with Sarah and then they would bring me dinner.

Mom and the girls were headed toward the door when we heard a couple stern knocks. Mom cautiously opened the door and we found ourselves facing two FBI agents. Really.

Needless to say, we were petrified. We had no idea what we had done.

The FBI agents questioned my mom about my sister and her friend. They did not believe that either girl belonged to my mother, and they had evidence. To top things off, Sarah was laid out on the bed obviously in a very sound sleep. I told them that she was my daughter and that she was sleeping soundly because of some medicine she had taken. They looked at each other and their faces showed that they did not believe me.

The agents told us that the man from the auto-body shop had called with some concerns. He had found a notebook in the back seat of mom’s car.

Evidently, Jennifer and her friend had gotten bored on the trip, and they began to write this dialogue.

Jennifer began,”She is not my real mom, but you will really like her. She kidnapped me a few years ago, and she has been very nice.”

The other girl responded to this comment without fear, and she wrote back to Jennifer, curious to know how this would proceed.

The notebook contained several pages of dialogue between the two.

In addition, they had both made signs that said, “Help Me”, and they waved them to cars along the way. They left their signs in the back seat of the car when we unpacked.

We were all embarrassed, to say the least. This was before the age of faxes, computers, iPhones, tablets – you get the idea. We were told that we were to stay here until the agents had contacted Jennifer’s friend’s mother to corroborate our story and to get her permission for the FBI to get her daughter’s records from Frankfort, KY. They would also need records for Mom, Jennifer, Sarah, and me. This was going to take several days.

We were allowed to go to the beach, but only directly in front of our hotel, and the agents told us that we were being watched. We were not allowed to drive or to leave the premises.

Being able to be at the beach made the time pass more quickly; however, we were on pins and needles until the FBI agents visited our room several days later and cleared us.

This is one beach trip I will never forget!