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January 31, 2010

Children, family still wait for news on missing woman

CULLMAN — With his mother missing for more than five months, Gavin Franklin recently wrote a letter to his mom — even though she may never get to read it.

“I love you, momma,” the seven-year-old scrawled on a sheet of loose leaf paper, written in pencil with occasional misspellings. “We have bin praying for you. We love you and don’t for get us.”

Gavin’s mother — Tabitha Franklin, 29, of Cullman — has been missing since Aug. 8, 2009. She has blond hair, is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds according to a flyer being distributed by her family.

Reports indicate Tabitha was traveling to Hueytown at the time of her disappearance to meet with family, though she never arrived.

Local and state authorities still have no leads on her whereabouts, though her disappearance is not currently considered a criminal matter.

“We have no further leads than we had before,” said Lt. Scott Clay with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. “But, we’re still working on everything that comes in and following up.”

Gavin, along with his older brother Dawson, 11, and sister Hannah, 9, have spent the last five months waiting.

Tabitha’s sister-in-law, Mary Collier, has kept Gavin and Dawson since the disappearance, while Hannah stays with another family member in Hanceville.

Be it a phone call, birthday card, or letter, the children just want to know why their mom hasn’t come home.

“I try to talk to you on Myspace,” Dawson wrote in his own letter to his mother. “It says you’ve not been on there for a while ... I can’t wait to see you.”

In late 2009, with Christmas fast approaching, Hannah penned a note of her own, in bright pink ink on a frayed sheet of stationery.

“You always never missed a Christmas,” Hannah wrote. “Never never never ever missed a Christmas.”

Collier said Tabitha loved spending the holidays with her children, though this past December came and went with no contact.

“It used to be one of her favorite times of the year,” she said.

As the months continue to pile up, Collier said she just wants the suspense to come to an end.

“We don’t know if she is alive or dead,” she said. “We just wish we could get some closure.”

Some family members have decided to take a more active role in the search for Tabitha, and are requesting donations to hire a private detective.

“The family isn’t really able to pay for additional efforts like this,” Stacy White, Tabitha’s other sister-in-law, said. “We’re just trying to do something. It’s been really hard.”

Donation sites have been established at the Shell gas station and S&S Grocery in Dodge City, with other locations still possible.

In the meantime, all anyone can do is wait.

Anyone with information regarding Tabitha Franklin’s whereabouts are encouraged to call the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at 734-0342.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 225.

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