Mother's Day: "I'm a mom until my last breath"
For the past 36 years, Mother’s Day has remained a painful reminder for Ruth Parker, who has had to spend this holiday without her beloved sons, Charles and William Vosseler. Despite this heartbreak, she remains hopeful that she will be reunited with them.
Ruth recalls, with tears flowing, the many nights her two young sons would ask her to read their favorite bedtime story to them, What do you do with a kangaroo?
Ruth Parker holding her sons' favorite childhood book.
Nicknamed CJ and Billy, the toddlers had their specific storytelling roles while she was reading their beloved children’s book to them. In the story, a young girl is unintentionally greeted by one too many animal visitors and does not know what to do. Ruth told us “Billy would say, ‘You throw them out,’ but CJ would say, ‘You let them stay.’” The animals would always safely stay with the child at the end of the story. While the book always had a happy ending, Ruth’s narrative with her sons would not have the same fate.
Ruth vividly remembers the day when her ex-husband, Charles Vosseler, abducted 3-year-old CJ and 2-year-old Billy on October 9, 1986. Ruth arrived at Charles’s home in Rochester, New Hampshire, after he failed to return the children after a weekend visitation only to find that they were already gone without a trace. She would soon learn from Charles’s employees that he had left the workplace and cleared out his office prior to taking CJ and Billy.
CJ and Billy at ages three and two.
Ruth recalled a distressing incident that occurred before her children were kidnapped. The boys’ pet kitten, named Muggins, lived at their father’s home and, according to the boys, their father said the kitten passed away. Their father had orchestrated a funeral for Muggins with CJ and Billy, paving the way, she believes, for telling the children their mom had also died. Ruth said her sons told her the kitten was in Heaven, and they could not see him anymore. Ruth later discovered the kitten was still alive at Charles’s parents’ home. “I think he had rehearsed this funeral,” she said. “I think it is very probable that my children do not believe I'm still alive.”
Ruth wants her sons to know that she has not stopped looking for them. “I’m a mom until my last breath,” she added.
During a 2018 Mother’s Day Sunday service at her church, Ruth’s pastor passed around flowers to all the mothers in attendance. While she bowed her head and reflected on her sons, a flower appeared under her face. “The pastor leaned down and told me I was still a mom,” Ruth said. “I replied to him, ‘Of course.’”
Ruth still has their favorite story book, the one she would frequently read to them. She holds this keepsake close to her heart; it is one of the last pieces of her sons’ she still owns.
Ruth Parker holding What do you do with a kangaroo?
When Ruth’s sons were taken away from her, all recent photos she had of the two were taken by her ex-husband as well, making it difficult to have missing children posters made. “As they get older, I get older,” said Ruth, pointing out that CJ would now be 40, and Billy would be 39. “I think my children do not know they are missing.”
In 2022, new age progressed images were released, which show what CJ and Billy may look like today. Their abductor’s photo was also age progressed to 81 years old. These images were created by forensic artists at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
CJ, Billy, and their father's age progression missing posters.
We urge that you pay close attention to these age progressed images. You could be the hero who helps reunite these two men with their loving mother, who has been waiting and searching for 36 years for their return home.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Charles and William Vosseler, please call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800- 843-5678), the Rochester Police Department (New Hampshire) at 1-603-330-7128, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-857-386-2000.
Team HOPE is here to help. This is a group of volunteers who know first-hand the pain of having a missing or sexually exploited child, or having been a missing or exploited child. They have generously extended their hearts and provided peer support to countless people.
Call 866-305-HOPE (4673) to talk to a Team HOPE member.
Learn about the invaluable work of Team HOPE: www.missingkids.org/teamhope
View Charles and William’s Missing Poster here: https://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMC/601933/2/screen