On May 18th, 2015, Katelyn Lorraine Botic was kidnapped from our home in Colorado. Even in the absence of activity from our stalker, we had never let our guard down, although my wife and I agreed that we had a gut feeling everything was a thing of the past. We thought we were free and clear.
Obviously, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Me, my wife, the police, and the security company who had installed our alarm system agreed that the man, or men, waited until I disabled the alarm, and then went in through the window and got Katie. Knowing that made me feel as if it was my fault. I was absolutely devastated.
Strong efforts to find Katie were made over the following two months. Search parties, news segments, canvassing, Detectives even went to the midwest and questioned employees and patrons at Daisy’s Diner about that first incident that seemed so long ago, but nothing turned up any leads. My wife blamed me; she became very distant, refusing to sleep in the same bed with me, and only talking to me if it was absolutely necessary. Our son clung to her as I wasn’t in a proper place at the time. I hate to say it, but at the time, I was too broken up to care. The only thing I gave any piece of mind to was finding my daughter.
After a while, the efforts died down. We had exhausted the resources that are at one’s disposal in the event of an abducted child. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I basically put my life on the backburner. I drowned my sorrows in whiskey, as cliche as that is. By the time that next letter came, I was on the edge of being nothing but a shell of the man I once was.
About four months after Katie went missing, I received a letter, this time addressed to “Daddy”. As soon as I saw it, I broke down in tears. In my mind, just having that envelope in my hands was a response to the question that had plagued me since the day she vanished: was my daughter still alive? I tore open the envelope, and inside, as I had assumed would be, was a picture. On the folded piece of paper was a chilling message: “I’m home now”.
This one was one I’d never seen. It was a landscape. There were a lot of trees, what looked like a big field, and in the middle was another, though smaller, drawing of my daughter. The stalker had once again added himself in, again holding her hand, and this time he put a heart around the two of them. Pure, unadulterated rage coursed through my veins as I gripped the picture, crumpling it within my fists.
The next part, though, is what I wasn’t sure about. There was a half-done visage of a barn in the corner of the page, with an “X” on top of it, and a lazily done sky. Though it wasn’t like her other work, I could tell my daughter had drawn it. Seeing it on the same page as the man’s addition let me know that; the styles were too different to have come from the same hand.
Then it hit me. My daughter was trying to let me know where she was. Or at least that’s what I made out of it. I looked in the envelope and found a handwritten letter from the kidnapper.
Helo new Daddy,
I hope you know that I am not a bad mean man I just rilly like the pichures and want all of them to look at all the time. I just rilly wanted her to be my frend and now she can live with me and make pichures all the time. I promise I will not hurt her becuse I do not hurt my frends if I did that I would not be a very good frend myself. We would like you to visit. If you can find us. I dont want to tell you rite away because then you will come rite away and I dont want you to take her away before you have had a chanse to calm down.
What I am saying, sir, is that she now lives here but if you can find us you can visit. But you have to come alone. If you bring anyone else, I will skin her like a dear before you evin get close.
Once again, unsigned. Before I had a chance to weigh my options, I had made my decision. The police hadn’t done a goddamn thing to help me so far. Despite this man’s clear lack of education, I wasn’t going to take his threats with a grain of salt. I had to do this alone, for the safety of my daughter. I retrieved the gun we kept in the house from the safe, and went to a store to buy more ammunition and extra magazines.
As I packed a bag after returning from the store, my wife, in a rare show of concern, asked what I was doing. I elected not to tell her what was going on; the only good it would do is bring up a barrage of questions that I was in no mood to address. She’s not a stupid woman either, I’m sure she put the pieces together shortly thereafter, if not immediately. I gave my son a kiss on the forehead goodbye and set out on the road towards the place this all began: Daisy’s Diner.
I pulled into the nearly vacant lot of Daisy’s Diner. I again saw the same waitress that had been there the other two times. I walked in, and the woman gave me an odd look, like she recognized me but couldn’t place it. I don’t blame her, it had been quite some time since I’d been there. She asked what I wanted and I ordered a Pepsi and two scrambled eggs. When she brought my drink, I told her I needed to talk to her about something that happened a few years prior. She was reluctant to talk, but agreed nonetheless.
I reminisced with her about the night our car had been burglarized, which, to my surprise, she actually recalled. I practically begged her to rack her brain and identify the man who had gone unidentified the night of the incident. She told me she could barely remember back that far, and that she hardly remembered the incident in general, much less that detail.
I asked the woman what I now realize was a rather vague question at the time. I inquired about any barns in the area. Much to my dismay, this was a farming community. The small town Daisy’s Diner sat in was surrounded by endless acres of farmland. I took a shot in the dark, hoping that this kind woman’s familiarity with her assumed hometown could provide some insight, and asked about any barn in the area that might have an “X” on the roof. She gave me a look that told me she knew something, but ended up denying any knowledge of such a place. I knew she was lying.
So I started on a wild goose chase of farmland. I drove around nonstop for hours. Down every dirt road, every side street, every driveway. It was dusk when I finally came across something that I thought might lead me to the right place. I came to a gate with a sign on it that read ”BiloXy Farms” with the ”X” much larger than the rest of the letters.
As there was no way to drive my car in, I parked it on a small opening in the wooded area next to the gate that closed off the dirt road that led to God knows where and ventured off on foot, gun in hand. For reference, this ended up being about a 20 minute drive in the opposite direction of Daisy’s as the area I was put in the hatch. I must have driven past it twice in the dark, not seeing it until daylight started sweeping over the lonely land.
I walked on the dirt road until I saw three buildings in the distance. Right away, though it was far, I could barely make out a structure with a large, probably wooden ”X” on the roof. I knew I was in the right place. There could have been a hundred farms with a hundred X’s on a hundred roofs, but somehow, I knew I was in the right place. Call it “father’s intuition”.
I was about a half mile from the area where the structure with the “X” was, and as I got closer, I saw two other structures. The closer I got, obviously, the better I could see what I was walking up to. I circled around the land, hoping to enter the immediate area from a point I wouldn’t be instantly spotted at. I was going to come in from behind.
When I got close enough to see clearly, I saw a farmhouse, a barn, which was the structure that housed the large “X”, and what looked like a detached garage. I thought about Katie’s picture. Given that she drew the picture of the barn, chances are she was being held in one of the other two structures, so I resolved to check those first.
I made sure to keep a long distance between myself and the area the structures were in, keeping about a 150 yard perimeter. I walked through the tall grass on one side, ran through a small opening and went into a cornfield which led me to the rear of the structures. I scoped it out a while, and saw no movement of any kind, in any of the three buildings. What I did see, however, was an old, beat up pickup truck parked next to the garage.
I flipped off my gun’s safety, and ventured inward. I made sure to be as quiet as possible as I travelled through the next-to-impossible-to-go-through-off-the-path cornfield. What should’ve been a few minutes walk took about 20 before I came to the clearing. I was about 15 feet from the backdoor to the house, which was wide open. I sat there for a few minutes, trying to get some idea of where somebody was. I’m glad I did, because just then, I saw the man that had kidnapped my daughter.
All those years earlier, while we were eating our meal at Daisy’s Diner, a man came in and told us that if we were the ones with the Hyundai truck outside, that it had been broken into. The man who told us was the man who did it. Racking my brain, I vaguely recalled the man having a bag with him. If I was a betting man, I’d say that my daughter’s portfolio was in that bag when I thanked him for letting us know what had happened.
I felt sick. He was one of the only people I hadn’t considered as a suspect. Given all the commotion, I hadn’t even registered the man’s odd voice in my brain. Thinking back, if I’d have paid more attention to his voice, I’d have known it was him right away. My eyes filled with tears, but I got my bearings and got back on track. The man walked out the back door and over to the detached garage. When he entered, I made a break for it.
I sprinted across the backyard and leapt up the two stairs directly into the house. I still had no idea if anyone else was there, but I didn’t care. I was blind with determination. Thinking quickly, I ran to a door that I hoped would lead to a basement. It was my idea that the area the video was filmed in was the basement. I closed the door behind me and headed down the dark stairway, creaking loudly with every step I took.
I made it to the basement floor and used the flashlight on my phone as guidance. There were dead animals lined up on the ground in some sort of pattern I didn’t care to figure out. Then I shined the light on the walls. Every foot or so, save for a few empty spots, were pictures my daughter had drawn hanging on the walls. It made me sick, but if there was any doubt I was in the right place before, there definitely wasn’t now.
I stepped my way around the dead rabbits, cats, dogs, and small animals like gerbils and hamsters (there must have been 100 dead animals down there, it smelled like absolute…death), and into another area. Sure enough, it was where the video was filmed. The sheet hung from the ceiling, draping onto the floor, blood stains still spattered over the bottom of it. Now that I knew I was absolutely in the right place, I decided to stop sightseeing and just scour every inch of this hellhole until I found Katie. Then I heard the screen door open upstairs.
I stood in silent wait as I heard the floor creak above me, doing my best not to gag on the putrid smell that engulfed me. The walking upstairs stopped for a moment, then picked back up as whoever was up there walked back to the back door and exited the house once again. I checked the rest of the basement, but she obviously wasn’t there.
I quickly made my way back upstairs and back into the kitchen. I walked through a threshold into the living room, which was nothing short of being a product of hoarding. There was garbage covering the entire floor. What could once be used as a couch was now a home to maggot-filled takeout containers and empty soda and beer cans. To my left was a stairway leading to a second floor, where I saw something highly disturbing.
There were pictures lining the stairwell, and in these pictures were a familiar bunch. The waitress at Daisy’s Diner, holding hands with the man who ran the motel. Next to them was the man who had my daughter, and next to him were two of the cops that had helped me when I’d had troubles in this town.
Finally, there was a picture of the man who had given me the ride to Daisy’s after I was abducted. I felt like everyone knew. Everyone in this town knew what was going on and they were in on it. When I was done with this, I was going to contact the FBI and blow the lid off this fucked up place. I found my mind wandering but I got back focused and went upstairs.
All I found up there was more garbage lining the floors in the hallway. There were two rooms on the left side, and one on the right at the end of the hall. At the top of the stairs was a bathroom, which rivaled the deepest depths of a sewer. Shit and piss covered the floor around the toilet, wet towels and clothing covered the rest. I walked down the hall and peeked into the first room on the left, it was literally nothing but garbage.
The second room contained a solitary mattress. It was old, soiled and stained with only God knows what. The room on the right held nothing of any importance either, except that when I looked in it, I heard the door close once again. I stepped into the room and hid behind the door. I heard footsteps coming up the steps towards me. My first reaction was to go out the window, so I did.
As quickly as I could, I got outside and shut the window behind me. I stayed up there for a few minutes, and then saw the man go back into the garage. I had a feeling that that’s where my daughter was. I crawled around the roof and climbed down some lattice to the ground. I sprinted over to the garage and took a peek inside a back window. It was set up like an art studio. The man was sitting at a desk, drawing.
As I watched him, he stopped. Without breaking his gaze that he had on the paper on the table beneath him, he reached down to his left, and pulled up a mask, placing it over his head. It was a plastic mask that had hand-drawn designs all over it. Suddenly, he turned his head and looked directly at me. All I heard then was a loud, shrill, child-like voice saying ”DADDY!” and the man stood up and sprinted out the front door of the garage. I ran around and found him running to the barn. I ran as fast as I could after him, and fired two rounds, missing both.
He ran into the barn and I quickly followed. The only light in the barn was from the sunlight coming in through holes in the ceiling. It was a generally wide open area, with one small vestibule in the far corner, and a stairway that led to a railing-less loft area that had plywood boards sticking up in random places. The floor was covered in a thin layer of hay and oil spots. Towards the back were some hay bales.
The man’s immature voice filled the open air of the barn. ”You see that, Katie? He’s finally come and visited us. I bet he wants to see your new pictures that you drawn here!”
”Where is she?!” I screamed.
”She’s close!” He said before giggling uncontrollably.
I expected the man to be up in the rafters, so I sprinted across the open floor of the barn towards the blocked off area in the far corner. At the last possible moment, in my peripheral vision, I saw him. He tackled me from the left side. He must have been hiding behind one of the hay bales. What happened next wasn’t a long, drawn out fight. I didn’t lose my gun in the ensuing brawl. So if that’s what you were hoping for, I’m sorry. Real life isn’t like the movies.
He tackled me to the ground, I wrestled with him for about a second and a half, then, when he got on top of me, I pressed the barrel of the gun onto his throat and pulled the trigger, blowing a hole out the back of his neck. That sent blood flying into the air and raining down on me.
He struggled to breath for a few moments before falling lifelessly on top of me. I pushed him off and ran to the vestibule in the corner. It was locked by a large Masterlock. A bullet took it right off. I ripped the door open and found it empty. My heart once again sank. I stepped inside, frustrated, but instantly felt a hollow floor. I kicked the hay out of the way and saw a trap door. I opened it to find my daughter unconscious inside, bound at the hands and feet, with a sock in her mouth with tape wrapped around her head.
In tears, I picked her up and freed her from her restraints. I brought her outside and began to call 911, only barely recalling that the police knew the man who did this, and were likely friends or family of his. Long story short, my daughter regained consciousness. She sobbed uncontrollably as I held her in my arms. We made the walk back to my car and drove off. We got to the next town over, at which point I contacted the police. I told them what had happened, and they took it very seriously. Federal investigators were called immediately, and arrived shortly thereafter. I took them to the BiloXy Farm, where they taped everything off as a crime scene.
In what I thought was the end, they arrested the waitress at Daisy’s and the man who ran the hotel. Turns out they were husband and wife, and the man who kidnapped my daughter was their son. I learned a few months later, after the motel owner turned state’s witness against his wife, that the wife and son had a child together, and the girl from the video was their daughter. The police that were photographed with these people were also investigated and jailed for various crimes related to their family.
Apparently, this was the first time anything of this magnitude had been done by the family, but they were suspected for numerous robberies and attacks at the motel that the local police looked the other way on, bungling the investigations intentionally. The only thing that wasn’t found at the scene of the crime was my daughter’s portfolio.
The only information Katie could give about her captor was that he always wore different masks. When asked if there were multiple captors, she said she only saw one (I suspect that she only saw one at a time). He apparently forced her to sit in the garage, which he had fashioned as an art studio, and make pictures for him all day long, day in, day out. Nothing else. Thankfully, there was no evidence of sexual assault or physical abuse. When the man, whose name I found out to be “Atol”, realized I was in the area, he went to the garage, brought her to the barn, tied her up, knocked her out, and put her under the floor in the vestibule.
Additionally, the area under the trapdoor was a tunnel, something I hadn’t immediately noticed when picking Katie up out of it. These tunnels went under the entirety of the land on BiloXy farm, and much, much further. It connected to where I had been taken to after being knocked unconscious at Daisy’s, in addition to many other areas throughout the town. However, the tunnel had been collapsed behind the TV’s in the hatch I was taken to, more than likely to not give evidence of an advanced tunnel system.
I returned home with Katie to my ecstatic wife and son. Our family was finally back together, and the people that did this were either dead or in prison indefinitely. Everything was good, quiet, and uneventful for over a year. Our family got back on track. We got Katie acclimated to normal life again, and got her the professional help needed to get through her trauma, which was going quite well until last week, when an unmarked envelope showed up on our kitchen table when we got home from a day at the museum.
Inside was a picture my daughter had clearly drawn. This one was of a man in a mask with all kinds of designs on it. I could tell the addition made to this one was a knife in the hand of the man, crudely drawn with a charcoal pencil. Above the picture, in scratchy writing were the words ”NOW YOUVE MADE US RILLY MAD”.