Patricia Ann Tucker
In addition to helping adoptees discover their original parents and genetic background, DNA is providing a low level of justice for women who have been killed, with their bodies dumped in isolated places. I think all of my life I’ve known that to be a woman places one’s self in danger. At times, when I was younger, I was stupidly and naively willing to take risks that I recognize now were very dangerous and sometimes, I paid a minor price in receiving some sexual abuse (though not killed or seriously wounded) because of that. So often, when stories like today’s emerge, I think – “but for the grace of God,” or my guardian angels or whatever it has been that has “protected” me from my own miscalculations. That “whatever” has kept me safe and preserved this life.
Matthew Dale was 5 years old the last time he saw his mother (he was born in 1973, the same year that my daughter was born). He sat in the back seat of a stranger’s car that day of 1978. All his life he was missing his mom and didn’t know for certain what had happened to her. The last words his mother ever said to him before she disappeared were “. . . go across the street to the playground” (referring to a group home for juveniles) and “She said goodbye.” Tucker was shot in the temple, then dragged by the neck with a man’s belt. Some loggers found her under a stump on November 15, 1978. His father collected him the following day and raised him.
Matthew grew up dogged by the mystery of his mother’s disappearance. Rumors swirled among family members, including speculation that Tucker may have entered the federal Witness Protection Program. He has scant keepsakes from his mother: a single photo, baby books she created for him, a lock of his hair and a small tapestry she painted when he was small. When his father died in 2015, he felt somewhat adrift, although he is happily married and is a father. He has been a union electrician for most of his life.
He was in his 30s, when he accepted that his mother was dead. “Through the years,” Matthew says, “I’ve been told so many lies about it.” He later came to understand that his mother “fell in with the wrong crowd. She wasn’t a hiker, like some of the stories said.” Matthew filed his DNA in a database, in case his mother was ever identified. He sent state investigators his digital DNA profile after they found him through his uncle’s DNA. Now that his mother has been identified, he plans to arrange for a proper grave for her. For years, the grave had been marked only with a wooden cross. In 1998, Granby residents donated money to create a more dignified marker. He says, “It was an awful end. What I want to do is have a new gravestone made for her. She deserves to have her name on it.” Matthew admits “At least I have some answers. It’s a lot to process, but hopefully, the closure can begin now.”
Credit to LINKS>MASS Live and The Guardian for the details in today’s blog.