I sent my daughter to Mom’s for summer, only for her to end up dead and my daughter, Petra, to go missing. I’m Carla, and this is my story about how I almost lost my entire family. I had to find Petra before something worse happened to her. Would I find my little girl?

Petra, 14 and eager for independence, had insisted on the visit. Carla, a single mother since her husband walked out when Petra was three, had hesitated but eventually relented, proud of her daughter’s desire to spend time with family.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Carla checked her phone and saw no new messages from Petra. The young girl would FaceTime Carla while trying out recipes with Rosaline, and sometimes, she would send pictures of Rosaline’s vegetable garden. This morning, there were no new messages.

Realizing she had to get ready for work, Carla placed the phone away. Suddenly, it buzzed with a call. She answered, confused by the unknown number.

“Am I talking to Ms. Carla?” asked the voice on the other end amid background commotion.

“Yes. What is this about?” Carla replied.

“This is Officer Cummins, ma’am. It’s about your mother. Your mother… was found dead in her home this morning. She was…killed.”

Carla’s heart sank. She’d spoken to Rosaline only yesterday. How could this happen?

“Are-Are you sure you’ve dialed the right number?” she asked tremblingly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

The officer revealed the victim’s details, sending a shiver down Carla’s spine. “Oh God…” she sobbed. “How? Who would do this to her?”

“We are still investigating, ma’am,” the officer replied. “Can you come to the station?”

“Wait, what about my daughter? Is she safe?”

“Your daughter?”

“She was visiting my mother for summer!” Carla exclaimed. “Where’s my daughter? Tell me she’s alive!”

“We didn’t find anyone else at the residence, ma’am,” revealed the officer. “Do you have your daughter’s contact information? We could try tracing her location.”

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Carla, now panicking, provided Petra’s details. “You have to find her, officer. She’s just a child! This is the first time she’s visiting my mother’s town alone!”

“We’ll try our best to locate her, ma’am,” assured Officer Cummins. “Can you tell us what your daughter was wearing the last time you saw her?”

Carla relayed the information, her voice quivering with fear and disbelief.

The call with Officer Cummins ended abruptly, leaving Carla distraught. She dialed Petra’s number repeatedly, but only voicemail greeted her. “Please, baby girl, answer,” she sobbed as she dialed her daughter again. There was no response.

Carla knew she could no longer wait. Desperate for answers, she informed her boss she needed time off and hurriedly booked a flight to her mother’s town.

Her attempts to contact Petra were futile; her daughter’s phone was now off, and Officer Cummins had no updates.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Upon landing, Carla rushed to Rosaline’s house, now a bleak crime scene with police cars and yellow tape. She approached the house and was about to go inside when a voice stopped her.

“You can’t go in there!” it warned.

Carla spun around in a rage and faced the sheriff. “My mother was found dead here, and my daughter is missing! What makes you think you can stop me? I need to go inside!”

“Ma’am, please. We can’t allow that. Come with me.”

Sheriff Rodriguez took her to the police station, where he informed her that her mother’s body was taken for autopsy. They suspected Rosaline was killed sometime during the night. “And I know this may shock you, but we also have to consider the possibility that your daughter was involved.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

“Petra?” Carla shrieked. “She’s just a child, Sheriff! She would never do that to her grandmother! She loved my mother!”

Sheriff Rodriguez sympathized but remained firm. “We have to consider every possibility. Your daughter’s disappearance after the incident is troubling.”

Carla was adamant. “I know my daughter. She’s innocent. Let me be part of the investigation, and I will prove my daughter’s innocence. Let’s go back to my mother’s house!”

“No, ma’am,” the sheriff refused. “You can’t interfere with the investigation.”

“But remember that I won’t sit and wait, sheriff!”

Carla left the station in a mix of anger and despair. She checked into a motel and contemplated her next steps in the agonizing wait for answers. Petra’s phone was still unreachable, and Carla just couldn’t believe how the sheriff could suspect a young girl of murdering her grandmother.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Eventually, Carla decided to sneak into her mother’s house for clues. That night, she waited in a taxi until the police left and quietly approached the house, ensuring nobody saw her.

Once inside, Carla searched desperately, haunted by memories of her mother and Petra. “You’re innocent, Petra. I know you didn’t do this,” she whispered, scanning the room for any evidence of her daughter’s innocence.

Suddenly, a police car arrived outside. Carla hid in the kitchen, her heart pounding as Sheriff Rodriguez entered. She watched him surreptitiously wipe down surfaces and clean a cup, seemingly erasing evidence.

Unfortunately for Carla, she strained to maintain her cover, and her foot betrayed her, landing on a creaky floorboard. She immediately hid behind the counter, but the sheriff’s gaze locked onto her hiding spot.

Carla froze in fear but heaved a sigh of relief when the sheriff’s radio crackled, distracting him. He hastily left the house and drove away, and Carla, seizing the moment, rushed to the taxi outside.

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“Follow that car, but keep your distance,” she instructed the driver, pointing at the sheriff’s vehicle.

“That’s a police car, ma’am. It’ll cost $100 extra,” the driver warned.

“Alright, no problem. Just follow him,” Carla agreed urgently, driven by her desperation to uncover the truth about her daughter’s disappearance and her mother’s death.

“Stop here,” she instructed the taxi driver as they trailed the sheriff to a modest home.

“That’s his house,” the driver said, recognizing the sheriff’s residence in their small town.

Carla opened her purse and took out $200. “You never gave me a ride, and you never saw me doing what I’m going to do,” she said, extending the money.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The driver accepted the money and nodded. Carla stepped out of the vehicle and told him to wait for her in case she needed his help again. “If I don’t show up in 30 minutes, you can leave. I don’t know how long it will take me,” she instructed the driver.

Carla sneaked into the sheriff’s yard. She had a hunch that he must be hiding some evidence in his home, so she decided to inspect the house. However, as she was heading to the front door, it suddenly flung open, prompting her to hide behind a tree in the front yard.

The sheriff’s voice boomed from inside, and he soon stood on the front porch, talking to someone on the phone.

“…I couldn’t hear you inside. I told you the girl killed her granny!” he barked. “I’m tired of hearing the stupid theories that it wasn’t the girl…Alright, let’s talk later.”

Carla couldn’t shake the feeling now that the sheriff was trying to manipulate the evidence to make her daughter look like a killer. She waited behind the tree until he hung up and went inside. Once the front door slammed shut, she had an idea. She saw the lights go off in the house soon after, which meant the sheriff was probably going to sleep.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

She marched to the front porch and peered inside through the windows but couldn’t see anything clearly. She had to enter the house, but the front door was locked, so she removed her hairpin.

After successfully picking the lock, she entered the house, her phone’s flashlight guiding her. In the living room cabinet, she discovered Petra’s phone. Just as tears welled up in her eyes, she heard footsteps. Carla ducked behind the living room sofa.

She carefully peered out from behind the furniture and saw the sheriff. He drank water and left the house again. She walked to the windows. Once his car was out of sight, she hurried out and instructed the waiting taxi driver, “Follow him, please.”

As they reached a forest, following the sheriff’s tail, Carla ordered the taxi driver to stop. She decided to continue the journey on foot as she was afraid the sheriff might spot the taxi. Despite the driver’s concerns, she ventured into the woods alone, driven by the need to find her daughter.

After navigating the dark, dense forest for what felt like an eternity, Carla finally stumbled upon a clearing with the sheriff’s car parked near an old house. She watched him carry cans to the back of the structure, then enter the house with a gun after faking a distress call over the radio.

“I’ve found the suspect! I need backup! She attacked me!” he complained, feigning he was attacked.
For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Panicked, Carla suspected Petra was inside. She followed the sheriff inside and found the man pointing the gun at a bound and gagged Petra. Without a second thought, she grabbed the vase, approached the sheriff stealthily, and swung it at the man’s head, knocking the gun from his hands. The weapon sailed through the air, landing close to Petra.

The sheriff spun around, blood trickling down his temple, and groaned in pain. Carla froze for a second. She didn’t know what to do. His eyes widened in anger, and before she could act, he lunged at her, shoving her to the ground and choking her.

“L-leave me!” Carla struggled, gasping for air.

Petra, managing to reach the gun, fired a shot, injuring the sheriff’s arm. Carla shoved the man away and rushed to comfort her daughter.

“Oh honey, it’s OK. I’m here now,” Carla reassured Petra, embracing her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

“How did you end up here?” Carla asked, trembling, as she removed the tape across Petra’s lips.

“Mom, he killed Nana! I saw him…He said he loved Nana and wanted her back…” Petra revealed, sobbing. She recounted how Sheriff Rodriguez, in love with Rosaline, killed her in a scuffle after she rejected his advances.

As Carla heard that, her past flashed before her eyes. Sheriff Rodriguez was… her biological father. He had left a pregnant Rosaline for another woman 30 years ago, but he wanted to get back together now — something Rosaline was against — which got Rosaline killed.

The smell of smoke snapped Carla to the present. The sheriff, outside, had set the house on fire.

Carla confronted him. “Stop! You’re hurting your granddaughter!” she yelled through the flames. “AND I AM YOUR DAUGHTER!”

The sheriff froze, shocked, then desperately attempted to rescue them. He freed Petra and carried her out, returning through the blaze for Carla. Overcome by smoke and flames, he struggled but managed to save them both.

Carla didn’t know what happened after she was carried out of the house. She only remembered that she was in her father’s embrace, and then it all went black for her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

For illustration purposes only | Source: Shutterstock

When she awoke outside the charred remains, a paramedic attended to her. “What…what happened?” she asked, her eyes searching for the sheriff. “There was an older man with us. Is he alright?”

“They took him away, Mom,” Petra sobbed before the paramedic could answer. “He…he died.”

“He died saving you,” Officer Cummins’ voice distracted them.

The officer approached and told Carla what had happened.

Sheriff Rodgiruez was found unconscious on the ground after rescuing Carla. When he briefly regained consciousness, he admitted to murdering Rosaline. However, while he was being transported to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Carla’s chest tightened.You saved us and regretted what you had done. But I can’t forgive you for what you did to Mom, Dad, she thought sadly. She had finally met her father, but it was too late.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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