KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two heart-wrenching days of waiting and hoping came to a disappointing end for one Kansas City family anxious for answers in the disappearance of their mother.
Police called off the search Thursday evening for the human remains of Laura Mason, a woman who went missing more than two decade ago from the area of 18th and Vine.
Crews thought she might be buried in the backyard of a South Kansas City home on Hardesty Avenue, but after two days of digging, detectives came up with nothing.
“I just felt deflated,” said Safiyyah Mills, Mason’s daughter. “And then it was just like, ‘What? So what? So what happened? You didn’t find anything?’”
Mills said she was familiar with the home police searched, as it once belonged to Richard Stallings, her mother’s former brother-in-law, and the last person who ever saw her.
Stallings gave inconsistent information to police about Mason’s case, but was never charged. He’s now serving a life sentence for the murder of another woman that happened two years later in 1995.
“I felt like I was kind of in a parallel universe, kind of looking at myself,” Mills said of watching police dig at his home for two days.
“I’ve been to that house. I spent holidays at that house. So just the thought of thinking, if they find my mother in that backyard, oh my God, like, I don’t know how I’m going to feel about this.”
The emotional roller coaster continued when police never found any human remains.
“I appreciate them following up on the tip,” Mills said, “and even being willing to go out and dig, but at the same time, it`s just again, emotionally speaking, it`s like I’m starting over again.”
Mills said the pain of losing her mom is still raw, and any recent hope she had of finally finding the truth was shattered.
“You want to protect yourself,” she said. “You want to protect your heart. This is probably me at my most vulnerable state. It`s my mother, you know? It’s my mother. I don`t know where she’s at. So just going through it again, it just makes me emotional.”
But comfort comes in the memories of old pictures and Mills’ pledge to keep her mother’s vivacious spirit alive through the Laura E. Mason Foundation.
“To me, she lived life to the fullest,” Mills said of her mother. “In my heart, I have to find closure. So the foundation, that`s where I`m putting all my energy into. Every act of service that we do, that we`re going to do, that we’ve done, that is really her living legacy.”