Families, friends, keep missing women’s memories aliveAugust 22, 2010
DANBURY — Perhaps under better circumstances, Dan and Dave Hodgman and Sherrie Passaro and Beth Profeta might never have met.
But Carmella Gutierrez’s sons and Mary Badaracco’s daughters have been tied together by similar tragedies — their mothers both vanished under mysterious circumstances years ago and are believed to have been killed.
On Sunday, the children of these missing mothers were together again, as more than 40 friends and relatives of both families gathered at Hatter’s Park hoping to call attention to
missing persons across the country and raise public awareness about a nonprofit organization that works on their behalf.
“Missing adults do not get the
attention that missing children do,” said Monica Caison, of Wilmington, N.C., founder of the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons. Caison has toured the country for the last four years to remind people about the cases.
This year’s itinerary includes 21 stops in 10 states where the missing persons or families lived. Caison hopes the publicity provides the spark that could bring some answers to the mysteries.
“We’re spending the day in Connecticut and highlighting three cases,” Caison said, citing Gutierrez, Badaracco, and Billy Smolinski, a Waterbury man who disappeared in 2004.
Badaracco, who lived in Sherman, was last seen in 1984, and her case was classified as a homicide by Connecticut State Police in 1990, the same year that Gutierrez, a former Brookfield resident living in Tennessee, also disappeared, reportedly on a trip to Georgia.
Neither woman’s bodies were ever located and both cases have common elements. The last people to see Badaracco and Gutierrez alive were their husbands, and both women were in marriages that were verging on divorce.
Posters, placards and a quilt made by a friend of Badaracco’s daughters hung in the Hatter’s park’s pavilion, including one that featured the names and information about 32 Connecticut women listed as missing persons.
As rain drummed on the roof, singer-songwriter Jessie Mayer, of Bridgewater, performed the song she wrote in Mary Badaracco’s memory as participants in the observance held candles.
“We want our loved ones back. That’s what this is all about,” Profeta said.
Over the years, Profeta and Passaro have worked to keep their mother’s case in the public eye, and remain confident that the person who killed her will be brought to justice.
“Sherrie is a really strong person,” said
Sheryl Trohalis, of Danbury, a friend of Passaro’s since high school. “She has amazing willpower, and her sister is the same way. They haven’t given up.”
David Hodgman was 28 when his mother vanished and Daniel was five years younger.
“Not knowing is the worst part,” said Daniel, who lives in Bethel.
“Everytime you hear about a body being found, no matter where, you wonder, `Is that her?’ because you know she’s out there,” David said.
Contact John Pirro
at email@example.com or 203-731-3342.