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Closure (Elegy of the Lost)

July 26, 2008

Closure (Elegy for the Lost)

 

On a spring morning, April 20, 1986, Cindy Zarzycki left her home, telling her dad that she was planning to meet a friend at the Dairy Queen and then go to church. She ate an ice cream cone at the Dairy Queen on Nine Mile Road in Eastpointe, Michigan.

She was never seen again.

The missing persons report listed the 13-year-old girl who had lived with her father, brother, and sister in East Detroit as having sandy blonde curly hair, hazel eyes, a light-colored mole above her right eyebrow, and light-colored highlights in her hair. The report said that Cindy loved playing softball, winning a trophy in 1985 as the most valuable player on her team.

Cindy was “reported missing” for 22 years though there were glimmers of hope that she had run away and some reports in the two decades of sightings of grown girls with features like Cindy.

            She was never seen alive or dead until July 9, 2008 when she was found in a shallow grave in rural Macomb Township, led there by the man who admitting kidnapping, raping, and murdering her 22 years earlier. “Twenty-two years is a long time,” Cindy’s brother, Ed Jr., cried to his older sister, Constance. “The main thing is now we get to bury her on her own terms.”

            Arthur Ream, the man finally convicted a month earlier of first-degree murder in Cindy’s death, was taken to the site on 23 Mile Road, his arms and legs shackled, by eight law-enforcement agents. After Ream eventually found the spot and police dug up a young girl’s body, they found Cindy’s tattered jean purse and homemade audio cassettes that her brother said she used to make.

            Ream was convicted in June by Prosecutor Eric Smith’s cold-case unit after Eastpointe Police Detective Derek McLaughlin reexamined the girl’s disappearance. Police testified that Cindy went to the Dairy Queen because Ream said he was planning a surprise party for his son. Ream’s then 14 year-old son, who died in a car accident 8 years later on July 4th, was Cindy’s desired boyfriend at the time. But because Cindy was apprehensive to meet her friend’s father by herself, she asked a friend to join her but her friend testified that her mom wouldn’t let her go. Her brother, Ed Jr., asked to go instead but his sister told him to go away.

            That moment haunts Ed to this day. When asked what Cindy’s brother would say to his dead sister if he could, he cries, “I’d say I’m sorry I wasn’t there. And I love her.”

            In the 22 years, Cindy’s body was only a few miles away from her family but they never knew. Now, they could move her to be buried in a plot near Lexington, Michigan that they bought two years ago. Maybe they could have a little bit of closure, watching their little girl who would be 35 years old today, buried in her own casket.

            On the same day that Cindy’s body was found, the skeletal remains of Pvt. Byron Fouty and Sgt. Alex Jimenez were found. The next day, military officials came to Gordon Dibler’s home and told him that his stepson, Pvt. Fouty, missing in Iraq for over a year, had been found.

            “Every day that he’s been missing has been a day of ‘what could have been’ but after hearing the news today…I’m still in shock,” said Dibler, who listened with Byron’s stepsister, Sarah.

            Fouty was 19, less than a year removed from his high school days at Walled Lake Central, when he and two other members of the 10th Mountain Division, disappeared after being ambushed 20 miles outside of Baghdad. The news of Fouty and Sgt. Alex Jimenez’s bodies brought a sigh of finally knowing something and a flood of grief.

            13 days after the bodies of Cindy Zarzycki and Byron Fouty were found, a memorial service was held for Byron Fouty. Byron’s stepsister said that Byron was kind, talented, brave, and ambitious, “unlike anyone I ever knew” and his father, Mick Fouty, told the 200 people gathered how proud he was of him. “He’s a hero and will always be a hero in everybody’s eyes.”

            Keith Maupin, father of Sgt. Matt Maupin, 20, whose remains were found in March after he was captured in 2004 in Iraq, listened to the speeches, as did Linda Racey, former wife of missing U.S. Army Spec. Ahmed Altaie, 43, of Ann Arbor, and Skip Bushart, whose son Army Pfc. Damian Bushart, 22, of Waterford, died in Iraq in 2003.

            “I can only imagine their heartache, not knowing where he was for so long,” Bushart commented. “At least, they have closure.”

            Is closure watching the body of your loved one as the casket closes? We have to wonder if closure is finally knowing where your son or daughter is and praying that their souls have found a better place than here. 

            Think of what Cindy and Byron will never know: graduations, turning 21, the touch of a girlfriend or boyfriend, the celebration of marriage, having children themselves. They will never know the joy of seeing their loved ones again; they will never know what their lives could have become.

            All that’s left to do is share the grieving of the families and imagine greater penalties than prison for a brutal man who let so many suffer for so long. All we can do is imagine death, the ultimate closure, for the men who destroyed Byron Fouty and Cindy Zarzycki.

 

  1. “Remains from 1986 slaying are found in Macomb Township,” Amber Hunt, Detroit Free Press, July 10, 2008
  2. “Family remembers Fouty’s bravery, spirit in tribute,” Korie Wilkins, Detroit Free Pres, July 23, 2008

           

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