Magi Bish, the mother of Molly Bish, looks at a new stamp that raises awarenesss for missing children after its unveiling Tuesday at the Natick Post Office. Molly Bish was 16 when she disappeared from her job as a lifeguard at a pond in Warren in 2000. Her body was found three years later and the murder remains unsolved. At left is Mike Powers, a district manager for the United States Postal Service. (Daily News Staff Photo/Ken McGagh)
Since their daughter was abducted in 2000, Magi and John Bish have been working to keep other people’s children safe and prepared for the worst.
“We had to do something,” said Magi Bish.
On Tuesday, the Bishes were at the Natick Post Office to unveil a new stamp that raises awareness about missing children. The stamp is available in post offices across the country and features a photo of purple forget-me-not flowers, the symbol for National Missing Children’s Day, which is on May 25.
“I feel strongly this stamp is sending out a good message,” said Natick Postmaster Nancy Nigro.
Postmasters often unveil new stamps. Nigro unveiled an Amber Alert stamp at the post office in 2006.
State troopers were taking digital fingerprints of young children, putting the only copy on a thumb drive and giving it to the children’s parents for safekeeping. Parents were also given a bag to store biographical information, a recent picture and a two Q-tips for DNA swabs. The troopers offer the free service year-round. They will have a table at the Esplanade in Boston on July 4.
Lt. Daniel Richard and State Trooper Nicole Morrell were two of the original investigators on Molly Bish’s case. They were working for the Worcester District Attorney’s office at the time. Richard and Morrell worked on the case for six months straight.
“This was a special sort of case,” said Richard. “It was the most horrible set of circumstances you can think of.”
Two years after Bish went missing, the state started using AMBER Alerts. Morrell is the AMBER Alert coordinator for Massachusetts. She was administering fingerprints at Tuesday’s event.
The state has recovered 33 children from 22 AMBER Alerts, said Richard, calling it a 100 percent success rate.
When a child goes missing, it’s a race against time. The chance of finding a child decreases significantly after the first 48 hours. A picture is the best way to find a missing child, said Richard.
In Bish’s case, the best photos were group pictures. He father, John, described cropping her pictures and enlarging them to give to the police during that crucial period. The best solo photo of her was already a year old.
There are currently 65 missing children from Massachusetts. Many of their photos were hung up along the post office steps on Tuesday.
Among them was Simone Ridinger of Sherborn. Ridinger was hitchhiking from her job at a restaurantin Sherborn to Cape Cod on Sept. 2, 1977 and has been missing since.
Her sister, Betsy Bailey, was at the post office to mail a letter on Tuesday when she came across the event. Bailey has lived in Holliston for more than 20 years and owns a business in downtown Natick.
When asked how she keeps her hopes up, Bailey said “I just think about her in a good way.” Ridinger’s case is still open with Sherborn Police.
Magi Bish knows that feeling well.
"Some days, you wish she's out there."
June 27 will mark 15 years since the Bishes experienced the worst day of their lives. Molly Bish would have turned 31 this year.
“It’s so sad that 15 years have gone by,” said Magi Bish. “Molly would be goofing around, making everybody laugh. It’s amazing that someone can just take that away from you.”