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Tim Myers: A sad start to the New Year in the SCV

Posted: January 19, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 19, 2013 2:00 a.m.

In grade school in the rural county seat of Bloomfield, Iowa, I delivered the daily Des Moines Register, the newspaper of record in the entire state of Iowa, and in the 5th grade I began reading the newspaper before school.

In the early 1970’s coverage mainly revolved around the denouement of the Vietnam War and the troubles of then President Nixon, with a bit of news from the state capitol thrown in during the legislative session.

However, periodically, a story would erupt in the hinterlands that would require statewide coverage.

The Des Moines Register coverage on these front-page stories would include a small map of the incredibly nearly rectangular state of Iowa with a pointer showing where the story occurred within the state.

Due to the "man bites dog" nature of news coverage, finding one’s hometown in the blown up map on page one never constituted a good thing.

Generally, the story reported some rare but horrible homicide.

In the case of Bloomfield, Iowa, the stories that gained statewide attention fortunately related to the less deadly tale of a middle school cafeteria director allowing the use of flour fouled by rat feces to make sweet rolls for lunch and the manager of a small local airstrip going undercover with the DEA to capture cocaine brought in from South America on private planes.

The desire in Bloomfield, Iowa, all communities and even in Santa Clarita?

To muddle through with the boring news of planning commission meetings, traffic light synchronization conspiracy theories, and mayoral rotations.

It hurts when the outside world deigns to take notice, because that means a tragedy occurred. Just ask the residents of Newtown, Conn.

Unfortunately, the Santa Clarita Valley found the desire for relative anonymity and a photograph of happy schoolchildren on the front page of every edition of the Signal dashed with the New Year’s news that no one wants to hear: A young woman missing after leaving a New Year’s Eve party early on the morning of Jan. 1.

Sarah Alarid, age 19, drove away from the party early in the morning on Jan. 1 and did not turn up anyplace.

Family members and friends could not contact her on her cellphone and no one saw her car.

According to policy, the Sheriff’s department turned the case over to homicide detectives and family and friends, primarily through social media, mobilized an incredible effort to inform the community of the disappearance.

Regional and even national media exploded with the mystery, and social media caught fire with people attempting to give "helpful" advice.

I know people wish to help but it stabbed me (and I can only imagine the pain of Sarah Alarid’s family and friends) when Facebook commenters, even days after the disappearance, suggested "pinging" the missing girl’s cellphone GPS device, like the family and law enforcement did not attempt that on Day 1.

Only one of three things could explain the disappearance of Sarah Alarid and the subsequent inability to locate her.

The simplest explanation: A tragic auto accident on treacherous mountain roads.

More chilling to the community at large: A mysterious kidnapper and abductor of young girls.

Most hopeful: A voluntary disappearance where the young woman would turn up after several days safe and sound and not worse for the adventure.

Investigators in these tragedies nearly always utilize the truism of Aachen’s Razor, the concept from the Middle Ages monk philosopher and scholar who asserted that the most likely explanation of an unexplained event is the most obvious and simple possibility.

A voluntary disappearance for some number of days would require complicity by others or would leave financial and electronic footprints in our age.

Abductions by criminals, while real and horrifying, still rarely occur.

This unfortunately made the simplest explanation, that of a fatal automobile accident on treacherous mountain roads, the most likely and in fact actual.

While cold comfort to the family and friends of Sarah Alarid, the community at large breathed a collective sigh of relief when a law enforcement helicopter, investigating a believed (empty) shallow grave in the mountains between Canyon Country and Sylmar, spotted the young girl’s car on it’s roof down a deep ravine, with her body nearby.

Once again, Aachen’s Razor dictates an accident in the dark with the car going over the side.

And now I would hope the community, which rallied so well and hard behind the family in the search, now rally behind them in their grief and sadness.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.


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