Cynthia Haag stayed put in her home in Baltimore for two decades. This mother was determined to be there in case Crystal, her daughter, returned. You see, something tragic happened to this family in the past. At the age of 14, Crystal seemingly vanished into thin air.
Her disappearance left a lot of people confused. No one knew where Crystal went or if she was okay. Everyone wanted to know if she was going to come back. Deep down, Cynthia stayed hopeful that her daughter was going to reappear one day. She had no idea what the future held for both of them…
In 1997, she was working hard to ensure that she could provide for all of her kids. Cynthia was a single mom, so the responsibility to raise the kids fell on her shoulders. As you can imagine, it was not easy to parent the children and work at the store. Even though it was difficult, she knew that she had to do it for the family.
Just Another Day
While Cynthia was at the store working, Crystal dropped by to buy cereal and milk before going home. This was not unusual at all and actually happened fairly often. Cynthia told the young girl, “Stay around the house today.” As a response, Crystal promised that she would do that. The hardworking mother had no idea that it was going to be the last time she laid eyes on her teenage daughter.
When Cynthia returned home after her shift, she could not find her daughter. She got in touch with friends and relatives to see if they had any idea where Crystal might be. There was no way she was going to believe that the teenager was gone. In the end, she knew that she would have to ask the police for help.
The Baseball Cap
There were a lot of terrible thoughts going through her mind. What on earth happened to Crystal? Every time that Cynthia passed by a young brunette, she would always check if it was her daughter. “She always wore a baseball cap,” she said. However, she knew that she had to do more than this.
After twenty years, the cops were no longer actively looking for the missing young woman. She was nowhere to be found. And then one day, she received a call from her other daughter. According to her, she received a Facebook message from Crystal. Could it be true? Did they finally find her?
Cynthia could not believe it, but who could blame her? As soon as she checked the Facebook profile, she could tell that it really was Crystal. A half-hour later, Bianca, the eldest among Cynthia’s daughters, got into the car and drove to New York City. Apparently, this was where Crystal lived. On the same night, they finally saw Crystal after all these years!
Crystal wore her hair short and spoke Spanish fluently. She had children and went by the name Crystal Sanders. She should be 35 years old but claimed that she was now 44. These changes did not matter to the family now that they have been reunited. “Still my pretty girl,” the mother said as she hugged her long-lost daughter. Even though this was great news, this was not the end of the story just yet.
The truth was that there was more to this story than meets the eye. It turned out that Crystal had a particular reason for running away. Back then, she reached the point where she just could not take it any longer and decided to skip town. But why did she do such a thing and where did she go?
Making The Decision
When Crystal ran away, she did not have any money or a place to go. However, there was no other option for her. It turned out that she ran away from something terrible. In particular, it was a person that she could not stand being around any longer.
When she left, she had a plan. Crystal first hopped on a bus that was going to New York. After getting off the bus, she started using the name Crystal Saunders. She managed to get a fake driver’s license with this name that indicated she was nine years older than she really was. What did she do after this?
After crafting this new identity, she landed housecleaning jobs every now and then. She also found a place in the Bronx. However, how did she escape? How was it possible that no one saw her leaving? It turned out that she thought the whole thing through.
Plan In Action
On that night, she had been out with her pals. This was not anything unusual. They all hang out together until midnight when she ran away. Crystal brought what little money she had and took the New York-bound bus. This marked the beginning of a new life the young girl.
Not long after that, she fell pregnant and gave birth to her first kid. Under her new identity, she managed to snag a Medicaid card. In the end, she gave birth to three more kids. During her time in New York, Crystal also joined the local Dominican community.
In fact, she ended up being so close to the members of the community that she would call people “cousin” and “grandma.” This was how she found a new family. Despite this, she still struggled with her history. As you can imagine, it continued to haunt her.
Time went on, and Crystal continued to lead a simple life. She was now the mother of four kids and had a family of her own. Over time, she also mastered Spanish. Despite this, she would check in on her old family via Facebook. But why didn’t she get in touch with them right away?
In 2010, Crystal had already been missing for 13 years. Even though the Baltimore police did everything in its power to look for her, their efforts did not come to fruition. By then, they were left with little choice but to inform Cynthia that they had “exhausted” everything in their power to look for Crystal. When this happened, Cynthia decided to stop celebrating Christmas.
Life Must Go On
Cynthia stayed hopeful that she would find her daughter once more. She held onto hope for 20 years, ten months, and two weeks. Not once did she think about selling the house in case Crystal came home.
Even though she tried to remain hopeful, she had no idea if her wish was going to come true. It must have been tiring waiting all those years. When it finally happened, she could not believe it. Was this really her daughter? What made Crystal reach out to them at last?
Even though they were finally reunited, things simply were not the same. To be fair, it had been more than twenty years since they last saw each other. Even though they were happy and excited, they still had to address a bunch of questions about that fateful night.
Crystal and Cynthia realized that they both needed to put in a lot of work to make the relationship work. First of all, they needed to catch up on what has happened over the years. By that point, they were basically total strangers. Where were they even going to start?
When the excitement of the homecoming faded a little bit, Cynthia could not help herself. After such a long time, she needed answers. Why did her daughter leave all those years ago? Was it because of her?
Despite this, Cynthia could not find it in her to ask Crystal this question. It was a delicate situation, to say the least. She did not want to pressure Crystal since her daughter had just returned. It was hard to tell what could scare the younger woman, so she had to tread lightly here.
It was truly a miracle that Crystal returned after such a long time. Everyone was stunned by this piece of news. Every year, around half a million kids go missing. Most of them either return or are found. Sadly, the others are not quite as lucky.
For some of these kids, it will take months before they get to see their families again. Even so, the search can go on for a year or more. But what about those who do not get as lucky as these children?
Tragically, the rest of the children are normally never found. It is very rare for a missing child to return home after being gone for this long. When they do come back, people want to hear about a “fairy tale ending.” Sadly, this does not always happen.
It is not hard to imagine that things get more complicated when a missing kid returns home after being away for so long. After all, they can’t just come back and pretend that nothing strange happened. In order to reconcile feelings of estrangement and resentment, both parties must spend time and exercise patience to rebuild their relationship. But what was it like for Crystal and Cynthia?
It is going to be harder to rebuild the relationship the more time people spend away from each other. However, this did not matter to Cynthia. The only thing that she cared about was that Crystal was healthy and home. What was next for this family?
At last, Crystal and Cynthia finally got together to discuss what led to that incident. Crystal was the fourth child. As far as her mom was concerned, she was a sweet girl who even bagged an award for complimenting others in the fifth grade. She enjoyed going to school and was friends with everyone.
Even though Cynthia had fond memories of her daughter’s past, this was not how Crystal remembered it. According to her, she did not get along with her siblings. She also snuck out regularly when she was young. If you ask her, she was not as happy as her mother made her out to be.
On the night of her disappearance, Crystal planned her escape. While she was hanging out with her pals, she knew that she had to do it. “And then it was 12 [a.m.], and I wasn’t going back,” she explained. It was the only for her to get out of there.
Once she had everything in place, she had to get used to her new identity. Crystal found it easy. After all, she did not change much except for her last name and her age. If she wanted her plan to work, she would have to keep everything on the down-low.
Pulling It Off
It is hard to believe that Crystal got away with pretending to be 9 years her senior. How did she even pull this off? Apparently, she had always looked older than her real age. This was how she turned from 14 to 23 in the course of one night. Soon after that, she fell pregnant with her first kid.
But what about her family? Surely, people asked her about this topic. Crystal explained that she claimed not to have on. Most of the time, people did not press her for details. She said, “It’s not a rare thing to not have a family.” It also helped that she found a new community to immerse herself in.
While she was in New York, she joined a close Dominican community. As a matter of fact, this was how she formed her own family and learned Spanish. After some time, her new identity ended up replacing her past one. But what exactly was it that made her skip town in the first place?
Crystal eventually told her mother the real reason behind her disappearance. It turned out that a neighbor had been sexually assaulting her ever since she was nine! This went on for several years. It happened on such a regular basis that Crystal ended up thinking that it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Cynthia could not believe what she just heard. It was hard for her to find out that her little girl had been going through such a thing all those years ago. Crystal always thought that her mom knew about this, but the truth was that Cynthia did not have a single idea.
Crystal could no longer take any of it. This was the reason that she ran away and disappeared without telling a single soul. At the age of 14, it was the only path that she could see. Cynthia listened to her long-lost daughter and cried in silence. It was hard to hear how much Crystal suffered in the past. We hope that the two of them have since rebuilt their relationship!