News Article - Written by Chares F. Bostwick
Monday, March 22, 2004 - LANCASTER - Fifteen years ago, 22-year-old Denise Fagot and her toddler son vanished.
Two hours after Fagot's boyfriend left their Lancaster apartment to go to work, Fagot's sister came by to pick up a key.
There was no one in the apartment. Fagot's clothes and 22-month-old Daniel's clothes were there. So was the boy's diaper bag. So was her car.
"The door was unlocked. The car was in the parking lot. Everything was like normal, except Denise wasn't in her house," said her mother, Ginger Gausman, who is still waiting, 15 years later, for justice to be done. Whoever abducted her daughter and grandson may have killed them.
Fagot and her son are among the missing-persons cases being publicized by Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons, an organization based in North Carolina.
Representatives left Thursday from North Carolina on a cross-country tour called On the Road to Remember 2004, stopping in 14 communities to draw attention to 30 missing-persons cases.
The tour, which stopped Monday in Lancaster, follows the route to Washington that a 23-year-old North Carolina woman named Leah Roberts took in March 2000. Roberts had stopped in Mojave to buy gasoline while on her way to Washington, where a few days later her wrecked Jeep Cherokee was found off a logging road.
Fagot had come to Lancaster just before her disappearance, after breaking up with her son's father and moving from Orange County to Lancaster to be near family.
When Fagot and Daniel disappeared, her family had a tough time persuading sheriff's deputies to regard the case as anything other than a young woman who for her own reasons had left home, her mother said.
By Sheriff's Department policy -- since changed by state law -- Fagot's family had to wait 24 hours to file a missing-person report. They found a footprint in dirt outside the apartment and a bedroom closet door off its track in the little boy's bedroom.
But when the missing woman's mother asked deputies whether they were going to take fingerprints in the apartment, she was told she had been watching too many detective shows.
"All that was very frustrating," Gausman said. "They weren't taking things seriously."
Although deputies said statistics show that most adults who disappear eventually turn up, Fagot and her son never did.
"I knew something had happened. I knew she just didn't take off," Gausman said.
Two years later, photos of both missing women were sent out on thousands of advertising circulars to households throughout Southern California. In 1994, Fagot's mother appeared on "The Montel Williams Show" to talk about her daughter's and grandson's disappearance.
The show drew reports of sightings from around the country, but none panned out.
Gausman moved to Orange County in 1994 and with her husband, Wayne, started a Web site company. Seven years ago they launched a Web site about her daughter's disappearance, at haveuseenme.com.
But Gausman doesn't hold much hope that her daughter and grandson are still alive.
"I feel in my heart she's gone. She's not alive," Gausman said.
Anyone with information to offer on the disappearance of Fagot and her son, Daniel Spangler, missing since March 1, 1989, from their apartment in the 1800 block of West Avenue J-12, is asked to call Detective Diane Harris at (323) 890-5500.
Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742 firstname.lastname@example.org
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