It had been 96 and a half hours since anyone had seen 38-year-old Michele Reiter, when her friends and coworkers gathered under a pavilion at Coggin Park, to light candles and vow among themselves “to get her name and face out there until somebody knows something.”
None of the 30 or more friends or coworkers could imagine where she is.
“Everything we know is different from the Michele we know,” said Heather Myers. Myers' husband Chris is Reiter's boss at Home Depot. About eight months ago, Reiter had been promoted to a department head.
Myers said, “It wasn't like her to not come home at night. It wasn't like her not to tell someone where she was going. It wasn't like her not to show up for work and it wasn't like Michele to not call if she couldn't come to work.”
And it certainly wasn't like Reiter to not be in contact with her two children who live in Abilene with their father.
“Michele and her ex had a cordial relationship, and he's said she has almost daily contact with the children. He really doesn't know what to think,” Myers said.
Reiter was last seen at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10. She told her roommate she was going out for a while, Myers said. When she didn't come home that night, the roommate contacted Home Depot Tuesday morning to see if she had come to work. Reiter hadn't. Reiter's car was found Wednesday.
According to the flyer handed out at the vigil on Friday, Reiter was wearing a black-and-white top and jeans when she was last seen. She is 5-foot-5 and has a slim or slender build with brown shoulder-length hair.
At just a few minutes after 7 on Friday, candle tapers were passed around, and in spite of the breeze, efforts to light and keep them lit were pretty successful. The friends made a circle around the pavilion, and Myers stood on a picnic table bench to make an impromptu speech.
“Michele is not gone,” Myers stressed. “She is missing.”
And until she is found, it is important to “get her name and face out there until somebody knows something,” she said, adding there were other lessons too, such as remembering to tell “the people in your life you love and who are important to you, that you do love them. You don't know if in the next instant they could be gone.”
At times wiping tears from her cheeks and giving into a faltering voice, Myers concluded, “Pray if that's what you do. If you don't then that's OK, but keep Michele's name in your heart. Keep the faith that we're going to find her.”