By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jul 21, 2014
SUNIZONA, AZ (KGUN9-TV) - Until now, our 9OYS special series has focused on children who disappeared after wandering off alone.
Our third case brings a terrifying twist of a mother and daughter, who made a quick trip to the store and never returned.
It is a comforting conclusion reached by every parent: that your child is safe by your side.
Then again, that is assuming someone isn't targeting you, too.
"I always tell them that when the wind blows like this, just like it's doing now, that's them whispering in my ear that they love me," said Dawn Pitcher, as gusts picked up around us.
For Dawn, the wind has held that special meaning since May 23, 1993.
"We had a large family, so Sundays was a big meal that we'd have," she said.
'Large' might be an understatement.
The Pitcher family had 17 children, meaning the odds were good that Sunday in rural Sunizona, that 47 year-old Dorothy Pitcher could find someone to accompany her on an errand.
"My mother asked my youngest sister if she wanted to go to the store, and my youngest sister said no she didn't want to," said Dawn. "So, she asked Danielle if she wanted to go, and Danielle said 'Yes.'"
The property has had new owners since, but 9OYS visited the home where the Pitchers lived back in 1993 and traveled along the road Danielle and Dorothy walked down on, what should have been, a quick trip to the store.
And initially, by all accounts, it was.
Dorothy even left her purse at home, taking just a small amount of cash.
A clerk would later tell deputies she and her 14-year-old daughter arrived at the then A&M Market, bought cigarettes and left.
According to Sheriff's reports, Dorothy and Danielle were last spotted here last spotted here along the S-curve on State Route 181.
Multiple witnesses saw them as they drove by.
Presumably, they were headed home.
They had less than two miles to go.
It was the last time anyone has ever seen the two.
Dawn, then 20 years old, was in her Boston apartment when she got the call.
"She said 'Mom and Danielle are missing and we can't find them,'" said Dawn. "And I was in shock. I didn't know if it was real."
But it was.
The mother and daughter were here one minute and literally gone the next.
The mystery spawned a massive search and left the tiny town swirling.
"When she disappeared, it was weird," said Chris Hamberger.
Hamberger went to school with Danielle Pitcher, the same school where he works today.
"Everybody just kind of didn't believe it at first, and then was sure that they would show up again of course, because things like that don't happen here," he said.
Indeed, they didn't.
They still don't, which is why, for investigators more than 20 years later, even one remaining mystery is one too many.
In the Cochise County Sheriff's records vault sit several cold cases that, like the Pitcher disappearance, are getting a fresh set of eyes for the first time in decades.
"Refreshing a case is looking at the case, like it's brand new, like it was being reported today," said Sheriff Mark Dannels. "Fortunately over time people change. Their ideologies change. Their maturity changes. So something could break on the case that didn't break back then."
And that is a hope that keeps Dawn Pitcher making regular visits to her childhood home. On those visits, she meets with detectives and checks on new leads.
"I'm trying to bring closure to my family to have at least some type of answers, when for instance my children ask me 'Mommy, can you tell me what happened?'"she said.
They are the answers that, she hopes, could tell her what happened on that Sunday afternoon, on that rural road, when a mother went missing and a baby sister was stolen, before her life had even begun.
"Sometimes I think about that," said Dawn. "Would she be married? Would she have children? Would I talk to her everyday on the phone? Would she live by me? And it's hard to think that that's never going to happen. And it never will."
If you know anything about the disappearance of Dorothy and Danielle Pitcher, it's time to speak up. You can contact the Cochise County Sheriff's Department at (520) 586-8150. You can also head to Dawn's website, dedicated to her family's mystery: www.missingpitchers.com.
In exchange for information leading to the whereabouts of Dorothy and Danielle, a $5,000 reward is being offered.