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Every Move You Make
By M. William Phelps
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2005 M. William Phelps
All rights reserved.
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. ... You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841)
Friday, October 3, 1997, had been a hectic day for Caroline Parker, an unassuming, moderately attractive thirty-seven-year-old wife and mother of three. The following afternoon, at four o'clock, Caroline's sister was getting married. In what had been planned as a rather large family event through months of preparation, Caroline had a list of errands for her husband of almost four years, Tim Rysedorph, to run after he got off work.
For starters, Tim needed a haircut. Then he was supposed to get the family car washed, stop to buy a new suit and drop by Sam's Club to pick up a few last-minute items for the reception.
Tim had left work at noon; by 3:30 P.M. Caroline was seething with anxiety because she hadn't heard from him yet.
When it came down to it, Caroline really didn't have any reason to fuss. Whenever she needed help, she turned to Tim, who had turned thirty-nine back on June 2, and whatever it was she needed, Tim was usually right on top of it. Anyone who knew him, in fact, later recalled how he would go out of his way for Caroline whenever she snapped her fingers.
Tim met Caroline on June 21, 1983. A mutual friend, Michael Falco, who lived in the same Troy, New York, neighborhood where they had all grown up, introduced them. Caroline was in the process of going through a divorce. Tim, who had been living in a New Jersey hotel shortly before he'd moved back to Troy, shared an apartment in town with his boyhood friend Falco and another old friend of theirs, Gary Charles Evans, a well-known burglar.
Caroline grew up in the Lansingburg section of town, and had flirted with the prospect of singing in a band. Tim, whom family members and friends later described as a "gifted" drummer, was in a fairly successful bar band called the Realm. Because of "their mutual love for music," Caroline later told police, they hit it off immediately when she showed up one night to audition for a vacant singer's position in Tim's band. Although she never got the gig, they started dating about a week later.
Tim stood about five feet eight inches, 160 pounds. He had a noticeable receding hairline, the crown of his forehead big and round, with strands of dirt brown hair, like frayed rope, protruding down his shoulders. Friends said he was a casual, easygoing guy who liked to please people. Tim's band played regularly at bars and nightclubs in and around Albany, New York. Usually, on Friday and Saturday nights, he was off with the band making extra money while Caroline stayed home with their nine-year-old boy, Sean. Known as a "comical joker" by his coworkers, during the day Tim held down a job driving a recycling truck for BFI Waste Systems.
Life had been fair to Caroline and Tim. They seemed to be making a go of it. Yet, some would later question the strength of their marriage, saying Tim could "never do enough" for Caroline, who, for the most part, hadn't worked a steady job throughout 1997.
Before Tim took off for work on Friday morning, October 3, he read a note Caroline had left him the previous night on the kitchen counter. Mainly, it was a list of the errands he had to run before the big day on Saturday. Because of the shift Tim worked at BFI, Caroline later told police, they often communicated through notes.
During the first ten years they were together, Tim and Caroline lived in Mechanicville, New York, just outside Albany. After getting into some rather enormous financial problems in 1995, they rented a small, two-bedroom apartment in Saratoga Springs and had lived there ever since. About fifteen miles north of Albany, Saratoga Springs is, historically, known for what locals call its "healing waters." Part of the Hudson River Valley, the town boasts one of the oldest thoroughbred racetracks in America, Saratoga Raceway. Victorian houses and ancient apartment complexes line the streets, while Starbucks and Borders cater to the middle class.
Tim had worked at BFI since the fall of 1995. His shift was not what most Americans would jump at when looking for work. He was expected at the office at 5:00 A.M. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and would get out at about 12:00 or 1:00 P.M. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he worked from 6:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. If he ran behind because of traffic or inclement weather, he would have to stay for maybe an hour longer. Either way, he was generally home by no later than 4:00 P.M. on any given day.
Tim enjoyed the job and hours. Getting out early freed him up for rehearsal with the band Monkey Business he had been in for several years. On the days when he didn't have rehearsal, he would make time for family. When work was done, a coworker later said, Tim often headed home. He didn't run out like some of the other guys and "grab a beer or two and watch the game." He did his time at work and, while pursuing his dream of making it in the music business, rushed home to be with his family. On top of that, Sean was an avid soccer player and Tim rarely missed one of his games.
On Friday, before Tim left for work, after reading the note Caroline had left, he sat down at the kitchen table and dashed off a note to Sean. He told him to have a "great day in school." He wished him "luck" in his soccer game later that day, ending the brief note: Love, Dad.
Tim didn't mention why, but he wasn't going to make Sean's soccer game on Friday night. With the wedding one day away, perhaps he felt he had too many things to do after work. After all, what was one game? Caroline and Sean could count on one hand the number of games Tim had missed over the years.CHAPTER 2
Throughout the day on Friday, October 3, Caroline Parker, perhaps overjoyed and anxiety-ridden over her sister's wedding the following day, left Tim numerous messages on his pager. Finally, at about 3:30 P.M., after not talking to her all day, Tim called home.
"I'm still running errands," he said. "I'll be home soon."
Caroline had spent the day sewing a comforter for her bed. It was a way, one would imagine, to burn off all that wedding stress. Tim had promised to bring home dinner.
At around 7:00 P.M., Caroline, wondering what she, Sean and Tim were going to have for dinner, paged Tim again and left another digital message.
What's for dinner? We're still waiting.
After thirty minutes went by, getting no response, Caroline ordered takeout from a deli up the road. She was getting upset because Tim wasn't home. The wedding was fewer than twenty-four hours away. She wondered if he had finished all the errands.
When Caroline and Sean finished dinner at 7:30, she paged him again.
Where are you? Call me ... [Caroline].
"Where are you?" was the first thing out of her mouth when Tim called a few minutes later. Her aggravation had now turned to anger.
"Listen —" Tim said before Caroline cut him off.
"Forget dinner. We already ate."
"I have a few more errands to run," he said. "I'll be home soon."
Before Caroline put Sean to bed at 9:30, she sent Tim another message.
I need to talk to you right now! Call me.
When Tim failed to call back, she dozed off while lying on the couch watching the nightly eleven o'clock news to see what kind of weather to expect for the wedding.
By 11:30, she woke up and, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, walked downstairs into the bedroom to see if Tim had come home yet.
Near midnight, she paged him.
Call me right away....
Tim called back immediately.
In what Caroline later described to police as a "broken call," she said she thought Tim had said he was "surrounded by the police," but the line had gone dead midway through the call. Later, when police asked her to describe the call a second time, she said she wasn't sure if she had been dreaming, watching something on television, or if it was, indeed, Tim.
After he told his wife he was surrounded by the police, Caroline recalled later, she said, "Now you won't be able to get a suit for the wedding." Then she said they argued about Tim's having to wear an old suit.
"That's the least of my worries," she thought Tim said before the line went dead again.
An hour later, at about 1:03 A.M. the following morning, as Caroline tossed and turned on the couch worrying not only about her sister's wedding but where in the hell her husband was, the phone rang.
"It's me, Caroline," Tim said.
"Where are you?"
"I'm in Latham. I'll be home in forty minutes."
A few hours after the sun broke over Tim Rysedorph and Caroline Parker's Regent Street apartment on October 4, 1997, Caroline woke up and immediately realized that Tim hadn't come home. After paging him — Where are you? Call me right now! — she walked up the stairs to the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, threw some laundry in the washing machine and tried to sort out what was going on.
With no response to her first page, she sent another.
Tim, please call me now. ... I need to speak to you now....
Fifteen minutes later: Tim, Sean has a soccer game soon, he can't miss this one, too.
Sitting on the sofa, contemplating what to do next, the telephone startled her.
When she answered, all she could hear were "Touch-Tone noises," as if, she said later, "the call was being made from the outside. But I don't know why I thought this. I assumed it was Tim, and he sounded like he was out of breath ... that he was scared, or running."
That's when she said, "Tim? Tim? Is that you?"
Sean, who had been sleeping on the couch, got up when he heard his mother screaming and crying into the phone: "Tim? Tim? Speak to me?"
"Yes ...," the caller said quietly.
"Are you all right?"
"... call ... not working ... doesn't work" was all Caroline remembered hearing before the line went dead.
When that happened, she sent him another digital page. Tim, I couldn't make out anything you were saying. ... Please call me.
For the next hour, Caroline paced in the living room ... waiting, wondering. In her heart, she felt something was wrong — terribly wrong. Tim was not in the business of running off without telling her. They'd had problems in the past and Tim had slept at a friend's apartment or his brother's house for the night, but this was different. They hadn't been fighting. Tim had promised to take care of several errands before the wedding.
Where the hell is he?
At some point before the wedding, after not hearing from Tim all morning, Caroline called her mother.
"Tim did not come home last night. He's missing. I can't find him."
"What? Caroline, are you —"
"Don't tell anyone in the family, Mom. I don't want to ruin the day."
While Caroline was putting the finishing touches on her makeup after talking to her mother, the phone rang. Nearly jumping out of her dress to reach for it, she said in desperation, "Hello ... hello?"
"Is Tim there?" a man's voice asked.
"Who is this?"
"Are you a good friend of Tim's?" Caroline couldn't recall anyone by the name of Lou that Tim had ever known.
"Yeah. I'm a friend. I work with Tim."
"Have you seen him lately ... Have you seen him" — Caroline was jumpy, frenzied, barely able to get the words out fast enough — "he's missing."
"I'm just returning his call; he left me a message."
Caroline couldn't handle it; she started to cry. "I'm sorry. I ... I ... We need to find him."
"Don't cry," Lou said. "Everything is going to be all right. I'll make some phone calls around town and see what I can find out."
"You will? Yes. Do that. Please."
"Maybe he's in a place where he can't call you?"
"What ... where? What do you mean by that?"
"Maybe he got into trouble and got picked up and is in jail."
"I would have heard something."
Confused, Caroline asked, "What do you mean?"
"Listen, don't worry. I will try to find out what's going on and call you back later."
Before Lou hung up, he had one last bit of advice.
"Maybe you should call the police."CHAPTER 3
Minutes before Caroline left her apartment to make her sister's wedding on time, she phoned the Saratoga Springs Police Department (SSPD). Hysterical, she asked the officer who picked up if he could find out if Tim had been involved in an auto accident, or if he had been arrested.
"No, ma'am, I don't see anything," the cop said a few moments later.
At 1:42 P.M., Caroline sent Tim a message.
It's almost time to leave for the wedding, call now.
Two hours later, about twenty minutes before the wedding, she sent Tim one last message: Emergency with wife, call home right away.
Tim never called.
The wedding obviously turned out to be an uncomfortable affair for Caroline, but she had to attend, nonetheless. Her sister counted on her.
Minutes after the wedding, she called the state police, the sheriff's department and the Colonie Police Department, a nearby town Tim occasionally frequented. She asked the same set of questions she had posed to the SSPD earlier.
At the urging of the Colonie Police Department, the SSPD sent a uniformed officer to interview Caroline and write up an official missing person report. The SSPD's initial thought was that the case would not amount to anything. So far, all they had was a husband missing fewer than twenty-four hours who had not shown up for his sister-in-law's wedding.
It was hardly enough to panic.
Ed Moore had been a detective with the SSPD for the past twenty years. Promoted to chief later in his career, Moore knew his business as a cop perhaps better than a lot of his colleagues, and relied, like most cops, on his instincts.
When Caroline got home from her sister's wedding early in the evening on October 4 and telephoned the SSPD, demanding it do something about what she insisted was her "missing husband," Moore heard what he later said was genuine pain and anguish in her voice.
Moore spoke to Caroline briefly, trying to reassure her that he was going to do everything he could to find her husband.
After hanging up, weighing what she had told him, taking the sincerity she had displayed into account, Moore told himself something wasn't right.
Tim Rysedorph had a good job, apparently loved his wife and son, had made specific plans to go to his sister-in-law's wedding and rarely ever failed to come home from work — at least that's what Caroline had claimed. To top it off, he had missed the wedding.
Something wasn't adding up.
By Sunday morning, October 5, Caroline had called several of Tim's friends to see if any of them had heard from him. She even had a friend page Tim and leave his phone number as a callback — just in case Tim had been screening his calls and, for whatever reason, didn't want to talk to her.
At about noon, Lou called back. After hitting the streets and asking a few people about Tim's whereabouts, he said he couldn't offer much.
But Caroline, as worried as she appeared, began to float her own theory.
"Tim's still not back, Lou," she said in a rush. "I'm getting really scared ... and, well, he's probably dead because I haven't heard from him yet." Caroline was, she later told police, rambling on and on, just blurting out words as they passed through her mind, not thinking too much about what she was saying.
"What are you talking about?" Lou asked.
"They're probably going to find him dead," Caroline said, "in the trunk of my car at the bottom of the Hudson River."
"Don't say that," Lou said. "That's not going to happen. Or else, he'll never be found — just like what happened to his friend Mike."
Lou was referring to Michael Falco, who had been missing for about twelve years. Shortly after Falco introduced Caroline and Tim, he went out one night and never returned. It had been rumored that Tim and Michael Falco's old friend Gary Evans, who had lived with them at the time, was responsible for Falco's disappearance. Evans, who had been partners with Falco on a number of profitable jewelry heists, denied the stories, telling people Falco had gone "west."
Caroline didn't know what to say after Lou compared Tim's situation to Falco's.
"Like I said, maybe he's in a place where he can't call," Lou told her.
"I called the police like you suggested and reported Tim missing."
"Maybe you should call the police back and tell them you've heard from him?"
Caroline screamed, "No! I can't do that! They will stop looking for him."
"Calm down. Keep your chin up. Everything will be okay." But Caroline could do nothing more than cry. "I'll call you back at dinnertime," Lou added, and hung up.
After that, Caroline began phoning the SSPD almost hourly, wondering what it was doing to find her missing husband. Tim had been gone for three days now.
Although the SSPD is a full-service police department, fully capable of any type of investigation, Detective Ed Moore decided to call the New York State Police (NYSP) — if only to quell Caroline's constant phone calls and inquiries. She was becoming quite the pain in the ass.
Excerpted from Every Move You Make by M. William Phelps. Copyright © 2005 M. William Phelps. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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