Chapter Thirty-nine: Sam and Sakura both Die

A whole week rolled on by before  D.C. Metro, in conjunction with the FBI contacted the Anderson’s with an update. The family had been patient, but it was wearing thin by the time Detective Gault and Special Agent Pierany came and knocked on their front door. The detective and the special agent asked if they could come in so that they could inform the family of the progress that had been made. Of course, they were allowed in and they all sat in the living room.  Detective Gault had a folder with some photos and papers that he spread out on the coffee table as special agent Pierany started talking.

“Thanks to video footage and eye witness descriptions we identified the young man chasing the dog, his name was Tim Piper, Unfortunately, he became a dead-end when his body was found  behind a dumpster at Cap Liquor Store on the corner of N. St. SW and S. Capitol St. SW. He had been shot in the face at close range, so it is quite possible he knew the killer(s). His dog was tied up to a street lamp nearby.  We are currently investigating his death in the hopes that it will give us more information on Yua’s kidnappers. The most likely scenario was that he was killed to clean up loose ends, though we’re not ruling anything out at this time.”

He continued, “We have viewed all the available videos in a onwe mile radius around the park to see if Yua’s kidnapping was captured. We did see her appear on several different cameras. She appeared to be OK in the videos, unfortunately the person that was with her was wearing a plain blue baseball cap that covered up his face and has made identification impossible despite computer enhancement. Since we have several videos, we at least know which direction they were going. Unfortunately, at this time they could be anywhere. We have expanded the search to cover cameras in an even larger radius to see if they either entered a building or got into a car. There is a problem, there are a lot of shade trees in the city, so it is quite possible that we will not have any luck there.”

Special Agent Pierany continued, “An hour before Little Yua was kidnapped, a local Taxi company reported that one of their cabs was stolen. Two days later a cab matching its description was found in the warehouse district of the city, stripped and burned out. Due to the timing of these events it is likely that they used the cab to get her out of the area, and that is why we lost track of her so early in the video footage. We suspected that they had used some nondescript type of vehicle to move her, a taxi would be ideal and virtually invisible in a city with hundreds if not thousands of them running on the streets of D.C. each day. We are definitely dealing with professionals”

Special Agent Pierany further added, “We are also checking with all of our confidential informers for any information that they may have, and we are rounding up all the known pedophiles in the area. We know that there is at least one child trafficking ring in the city that started plying its trade a few months ago, but we have had no luck in discovering who is running it or who any of the key players are. We are also going to all of the adoption agencies including those that are somewhat shady in the hopes that there are some desperate couples who are not too concerned with where a child came from.  We are exhausting every avenue. For the last week we’ve had patrolmen go door to door with Yua’s photo to see if anyone has any information. We have finally put up a hotline number and thanks to money raised by Andrews AFB, we have come up with a substantial reward for any information that will lead to either the capture of the kidnappers or in finding your daughter/grandaughter.”

Detective Gault chimed in, “I want you to know that the Metro Police and I can talk for the FBI. We are taking this matter very seriously and we will continue the investigation as long as humanly possible.”

Grandpa Gordon asked, “what exactly does that mean?”

Detective Gault further clarified, “At some point, we will have exhausted every lead and the case will grow cold. Your daughter while incredibly important to us is not our only case. Everyday someone is killed, raped or kidnapped in our city, and the victims and their families all deserve our attention. Even if the case grows cold , we will still keep a couple of detectives on the case, we just won’t be able to devote the resources that we are using right now indefinitely. I am sorry, but that is the reality of our world.”

Grandpa Gordon thanked them for their candor as they departed.

The weeks passed on and the updates became fewer and fewer. Finally Papa Sam was notified that the case was designated as a cold case now, and the resources had to be reduced to just two full-time detectives. The only good news was that Detective Charles Gault would be one of the two detectives left on the case.

They all knew that this time would come, especially as flow of information diminished and the lead detective and the Special Agent became more morose and sullen during their updates. The family could tell that the case was taking its toll on these two investigators. On their last visit, Grandpa Gordon asked them if they could recommend any private investigators that might be able to help. Both of them unanimously gave Jasmine Giordano of “Lost and Found Investigations” as their recommendation. She is really good and has extensive international connections. There is one caveat, she doesn’t come cheap but she has a high success rate.

Grandpa Gordon informed the rest of the family that he intended on hiring Jasmine Giordano. “I have access to one million dollars in liquid assets that I can devote to the investigation, after that we would have to sell the farm to raise more money.”

Papa Sam said that would not be necessary, “If a million dollars is not enough, there is simply no hope at all. That is the last thing either Sakura or I want is for you to give up everything that you have worked all your life for.”

During this this time, Papa Sam had undergone further testing and had started getting chemotherapy. The hope was that the chemo would reduce the size of the cancer so that radiation treatment would not have to be so intense.

The survival rates for Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma (NSCLC) are variable.

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from NSCLC. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with NSCLC are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with NSCLC are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all types of lung cancer in the United States is 23%. For NSCLC, the 5-year relative survival rate is 28%.

The survival rates for lung cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes is the subtype of lung cancer.

The 5-year relative survival rate for NSCLC in women in the United States is 33%. The 5-year relative survival rate for men is 23%.

For people with localized NSCLC, which means the cancer has not spread outside the lung, the overall 5-year relative survival rate is 65%. However, around 70% of people with NSCLC are diagnosed after the cancer has spread outside the lung. For regional NSCLC, which means the cancer has spread outside of the lung to nearby lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 37%. When cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, called metastatic lung cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is 9%.

According to the studies even with treatment, the prognosis for NSCLC was not that great, and now that the chances of Papa Sam winning the lawsuit were somewhere between slim to none. He was worrying what would happen to his wife Sakura when he was no longer here to provide for her. With the treatments and the loss of their daughter Little Yua, he was having a great deal of trouble remaining positive. He knew that no matter what he couldn’t give up, he still had a wonderful son Peter. Now that he was living under the same roof with his son, their relationship was growing stronger and stronger.

Grandpa Gordon told the family that Mama Clara would be going back to Arizona to take care of the ranch, they couldn’t expect their foreman to keep running the whole household indefinitely. He also said that he would be leaving as soon as he hired the private detective. There wasn’t much more that he could do.

Papa Sam was getting his treatments and he had paid off the rent for the apartment for the rest of the year, so that they wouldn’t have to worry about that. He said that until he got back on his feet he would continue to pay the rent for their apartment. If it weren’t for Papa Sam’s treatments and the ongoing kidnapping case for little Yua, Grandpa Gordon would recommend that they all move to the ranch.

Grandpa Gordon true to his word hired the Private Detective Jasmine Giordano. She told him not to worry about her running through all of the money. She said that she doesn’t work that way. If she gets to a point that there is no more hope, she will stop the investigation. She doen’t believe in milking the client.

After six months she contacted Grandpa Gordon to inform him that she had reached a deadend. There was no more point in continuing with the investigation. She did the best she could to keep the costs down, and the final bill was just over $152,000.  Grandpa Gordon thanked her for her candor and honesty. He informed her that a cashiers check would be wired to her account by the next day. 

Two weeks later Detective Gault notified the family that he and the other detective had been pulled off the case, it was now officially closed. He added that on his days off he would keep on working the case. He said, “it is not uncommon for detectives to pick cases that personally affected them and continue on investigating them long after they had been closed.  So as long as there was breath in his lungs he would keep on working the cold case.” Grandpa Gordon thanked him profusely.

After three years of fighting his cancer, Papa Sam passed away. He had fought the good fight but he  had wasted away to nothing. They had to stop the treatments some time ago because he was simply too weak to tolerate them anymore. Sakura’s parents came from Japan for the funeral.  Grandpa Gordon, Mama Clara and his sister Christine and her whole family showed up for the funeral as well, It was a small ceremony and keeping with the family tradition set by Papa Thomas back in 1958, the casket was closed. Their apartment was too small for all of the family to meet in, so they reserved a small pavillion in the park where little Yua was kidnapped in as a way to achieve some closure. It was the first time that either Sakura, Ichika or Peter had returned to the park. It was a solemn occasion. There was a lot of crying and hugging. The repast at the part while good intentioned,  did little to mend broken hearts or to help with closure. Some things even time doesn’t cure, and the only real closure that the family would have with little Yua would be to see the responsible parties buried six feet in the ground.

Soon after the funeral of Papa Sam, Ichika moves out and into the countryside. She had been working as a translator for one of the Japanese corporations headquartered in D.C. She knew as long as she lived with her sister that she would never be able to forgive herself or move on with her life, so as much as it hurt her sister, she had to do something to salvage what was left of her miserable life.

Grandpa Gordon never recovered his exuberance for life. Even his beloved Clara was not able to bring him out of his funk. The only solace he received was playing with the offspring of Sarge. Sarge had passed away a couple of years earlier and now he just enjoyed playing with the young dogs. It happened quietly out in the backyard in the shaded dog run while rolling around with the dogs, he felt a brief stab of pain and then nothing but darkness.

Japanese house slippers

Mama Clara having finished preparing lunch for them in the kitchen yelled to her husband that the food was ready. When he didn’t respond, she rang the triangle dinner bell for the times when he was too far to hear her voice. When he still did not respond she started to get worried, She took off her apron and her Japanese house slippers given to her as a gift from Aiko, Sakura’s Mother. They were given to her in Japan during Sakura’s and Papa Sam’s wedding and put on a pair of tennis shoes and went looking for her all too deaf husband. She let out a scream when she saw him lying on his back in the dog run with all of the dogs nudging and licking him. She ran as fast as she could to him but she knew it was too late. His lips were blue already. When she knelt down to check his carotid for his pulse she could feel that his skin was getting cool to the touch.

The funeral for Grandpa Gordon was simple since he was a veteran from three wars and a three-time fighter ace, he was entitled to be buried at Arlington Cemetery. There were the usual dignitaries and military personnel when a decorated veteran and retired two-star general dies. As a 2-star general he was entitled to a 13-gun salute and the triangular folded flag was presented to Mama Clara. Christine and her family, Sakura’s parents, Sakura and Peter and Ichika all were all present for the ceremony.

It seems like the death of Papa Sam in 2003 ushered in a string of familial deaths. Grandpa Gordon died in the early spring of 2005, and now Sakura will soon follow suit. Ever since Papa Sam’s death and, of course, the kidnapping of her daughter Yua, she has been greatly depressed. While she understood why her sister Ichika moved out, it still hurt her deeply. Sakura knew that she needed to put on a brave face for her stepson Peter, but she did not know how to do it. Every time she tried to act happy and cheerful, he saw right through it. He wasn’t a child anymore. He’s 18 years old and was a man now, so there really wasn’t much that she could do for him. He was going to college soon, anyways or at least, that is what she thought he wanted. They hardly talked though at least he had the common decency to never say to her that she wasn’t his mother. That would have just hurt too much. She after all had loved him like her own child.

Sakura had been having trouble sleeping lately, so she was taking more and more meds to knock her out. It started with over-the-counter benadryl and then it progressed to melatonin which did absolutely nothing for her, and finally she got prescriptions for Librium and Ambien from her doctor. That is where her story ends. She did not intentionally take an OD, she was just trying to get some sleep and lost track of how many pills she took. She was so happy when she finally started to fall asleep then fear started to kick in when she couldn’t wake up and then there was simply nothing at all as her heart beat slower and slower and her breath just ceased competely.

Since his stepmother Sakura had been sleeping in a lot lately, Peter made his own breakfast and for some reason, he decided to be nice and made extra for her as well. She had always been nice to him, so he figured he should at least try to reply in kind. After he had finished making pancakes and eggs and bacon, he went and knocked on her bedroom door to let her know that he had made breakfast. When she did notrespond, he simply shrugged his shoulders and went back into the kitchen to eat his food before it got cold. When he was finished he cleaned up the dishes and prepared a plate for her and put it in the refrigerator. He then left and went to his Jr. College. When he came back that afternon, Sakura was still not up and about. This was not like her at all, so he went to her door again and knocked on it even louder this time. There was still no reply, so he decided to try the doorknob, it was not locked, so he opened up the door and looked inside and there she lay all pale and cold looking. His stepmother was dead.

All he could think of doing was to call his Aunt Ichika. When he told her the news there was a shriek on the phone, a pause and then a shaky voice came back on and said that she would be there as soon as possible. When Ichika arrived she went into Sakura’s room and threw herself onto her sister and started sobbing. When she was finally able to compose herself, she called the D.C. Metro Police and told them that her sister had died in her sleep of an apparent OD. She then made the hardest call in her life and that was to her parents in Japan. She then called Mama Clara and let her know that her daughter-in-law passed away.

The Aiko’s made their second trip in a single year to the US for a funeral and a third in total. This one  was by far the hardest for them. At least with Papa Sam he had been sick and with Grandpa Gordon, he was older, but their daughter was still young and healthy. After the funeral and ceremony was over, they asked their daughter Ichika to come back home with them. She said that the US was her home now and that she would stay there.

After all of the belongings of Sakura were packed up and the apartment lease broken, Peter moved in with his Aunt Ichika. After he completed his associates degree in Criminology he entered the police academy. He had always planned on following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps but with what had happened to his father with the oil well fires in Kuwait and the kidnapping of his half sister Yua, he decided that he would become a cop instead. He was hoping that eventually he could gain enough training to finally solve Yua’s case.

Soon after Peter graduated from the police academy, his Grandmother Mama Clara died in her sleep at her beloved ranch. When she was found, her beloved mastiffs were all lying around her bed keeping her company. As per her wishes, she was cremated without any fanfare and no ceremony. She was only attended by her daughter and her husband Mark as they spread the ashes around her favorite areas on the ranch. Mama Clara had always wanted to be buried with her beloved husband Grandpa Gordon, but after he was granted the honor to be buried at Arlington that no longer was possible, so this was the next best thing.

When the ranch was sold and all the assets were tabulated, the estate was worth over $4.2 million. Grandpa Gordon and Mama Clara had always planned on splitting their estate equally between their two children, now that there was only Christine and Peter, it was divided equally between them. Suddenly Peter was a very wealthy man. Peter knew exactly what he was going to do with all that money and that was to finally find out what happened to his sister and to bring those responsible to justice.