Acme, Washington. A very pastoral landscape where cows were more common for cutting grass than lawnmowers.
Mary Stavik was a hardworking single mom, a school bus driver, who had carved out a nice life for her three children and herself on a country property. Mandy Stavik was Mary’s middle child. In high school, many called her the All American Girl. She was smart, beautiful, athletic.
In 1989, Mandy was just 18 years old and a freshman at Central Washington University. She came home for the Thanksgiving holiday and November 24th was just like any other day. Mandy often went for a run on her usual route – from home to the river with the faithful family German Shepherd, Kira, totally absorbed in the music blasting from her Sport Walkman.
It was a five mile run there and back. That was her routine. So, several hours later when the dog returned without Mandy, her family’s worry quickly ratcheted up to panic. Law enforcement and the community searched night and day for Mandy. Helicopters and locals on horseback, on foot, and in their own vehicles joined the search, but there wasn’t a trace.
Several days later, Mandy’s body would be found floating in the south fork of the Nooksack River.
What happened to Mandy Stavik?
That question would haunt not only the family, but law enforcement and the tight knit community of this idyllic, hardworking, slow down and smell the roses town for the next 30 years. The investigation would eventually pry open the crypt of something sinister, or rather someone, that would not only test the stamina of the community, but question the very framework of small town America where nothing bad ever really happened.