On the day 6-year-old Morgan Nick disappeared, June 9, 1995, the fireflies had just started to pop and blaze, filling the twilight sky with twinkling lights. Morgan left her seat next to her mother on the bleachers of the Little League field in Alma, Arkansas to catch fireflies with her friends as the baseball game wrapped up.
The kids greeted the summer evening supported by some of the pillars of childhood – baseball and catching fireflies. They ran back and forth between the parking lot and the bleachers as the evening faded to night and the action on the baseball diamond concluded. As the players filed off the field at the conclusion of the game, Colleen glanced back to check on Morgan and the other children, but Morgan wasn’t with them. Colleen immediately went to investigate.
“I asked them where Morgan was and they said that she was taking sand out of her shoes, sitting by my car, but I could see my car and I didn’t see her,” Colleen recalls.
She checked inside her car but Morgan wasn’t there.
“That’s when the real panic set in,” Colleen said. “It’s a really small field and a really small parking area and it was just easy to see that she wasn’t right there anywhere. And by now people are leaving and cars are leaving, and I remember standing in front of my car and I’m thinking, if everyone would just stand still for just a minute that I would be able to see her, that we were just passing each other somehow. One of the coaches called 911 and within six minutes law enforcement was at the field and began what has turned into a 20-year search for Morgan.”
What Colleen experienced over the next four days was nothing short of chaos and panic as the official search for Morgan ensued with help from a number of different law-enforcement agencies. Many of the resources that exist today to help in the search for missing children were not available to Colleen at that time. She was asked to produce her own missing child poster, to field non-stop media inquiries and to keep functioning despite the constant fear.
Four days into the search for Morgan, Colleen met with the mother of an 18-year-old girl who disappeared from a neighboring community but was found murdered just six months before Morgan was abducted.
“I had this deep need to talk to her mom,” Colleen said. “It was about knowing that the mom had survived this terrible thing. She just looked me in the eye and she said, you can’t give up hope. And it was the most powerful thing anybody has ever said to me.”
That moment sparked the fight that Colleen brings to the search for Morgan every single day.