As the sun sets on Wayne County, Illinois relief sets in too. But questions only begin.
The body of Megan Nichols was identified by the FBI this week after being found last month, nearly four years after she disappeared.
It’s a story people in Fairfield never forgot.
A few miles outside town, a sleepy railroad crossing comes to life. Sometimes in life we meet crossroads between right and wrong, good and evil, knowing and not.
The emotions rumble like a freight train through the heart of a quiet town.
“The not knowing. The unknown would be enough to drive you crazy,” Lori Beppler says. “It’s not every day they find a body in Wayne County.”
Out there is a field you’ve probably never seen. There are a lot like it. It’s out there where Megan was finally found. She disappeared in July 2014. It took almost four years for her body to be found southwest of Fairfield.
Investigators haven’t released details on her disappearance and are asking for people with any information to call the police or FBI.
“I can’t even speak to what her mom must be going through,” says Jill Fulkerson. “There are no words.”
Fulkerson has 430 kids. As Superintendent, Fairfield schools are her family.
“When your kids are hurting you’re hurting, so I can’t even imagine,” she says.
Upstairs in the computer lab of the high school there is a white sheet with words of support. Fulkerson told the students to write a note to Megan’s family when they had some time. Already before lunch the table-sized paper was nearly full.
Outside the halls of high school and inside the K&M Diner when Fairfield loyalists eat, Lori Beppler feels for another family.
“What all they have went through for 3 years, 4 years now that’s just not right,” Beppler says.
Her restaurant isn’t far from that Wayne County crossroads, where some feel someone knows something. Fulkerson hopes something can be learned.
“Contact police so her mom and dad have answers,” she says. “I think that would probably mean something.”
But there could be a long road between here and there.
(This story was originally published January 31, 2018)