FRESHMAN STUDENT MISSING 5 DAYS,
POLICE SEEK INFORMATION
By Jacinda Lewis, Senior Staff Reporter
Freshman student Harper Barnes, 14, has been missing since the night of Friday, September 1st. Police are searching for possible leads that might connect her disappearance to that of senior Noah Franklin, 18, although at this time authorities believe the cases are unrelated. The dual disappearances of students from Saginaw High School is sending an eerie ripple throughout our small town as they are reminiscent of an unsolved case involving a missing student that occurred 25 years ago.
“We have witnesses who saw Miss Barnes at the Saginaw Days carnival on Friday night and she appeared to be in high spirits,” says Officer Dave Franklin. “Her parents have informed us that she arrived home safely an hour past her curfew that evening, but at some point before dawn either left the house of her own volition, or was taken from the house.”
Yesterday, Harper’s father, Councilman Tom Barnes held a press conference in town square to seek the assistance of local media in finding his daughter. He reminded reporters in attendance and the crowd that had gathered that Harper was successfully treated for leukemia three years ago, but that at this time the Barnes family has reason to believe that her health is in a fragile state.
Councilman Tom Barnes, Harper’s father, spoke at a press conference
about his missing daughter on Tuesday morning in Saginaw Town Square.
“Our daughter, Harper, is a very bright young woman and we love her with all our hearts,” Councilman Barnes told the crowd. “She just spent the summer as a counselor at a camp for children receiving treatment for cancer. She was looking forward to participating in the debate and drama clubs as a high school freshman.” It’s widely rumored that Councilman Barnes plans to run for the office of mayor in next November’s election.
|Missing freshman Harper Barnes|
Harper’s best friend since kindergarten is freshman Eleanor Franklin, known to friends as Ellie. In a surprising twist, Ellie’s older brother, Noah, also went missing on Friday night. Ellie has been questioned by both teachers at Saginaw High School and the police department about any possible connection between Harper and Noah.
“I honestly have no idea where Harper is, but I hope with all my heart she’s OK,” says Ellie. “There’s no way she’s with Noah. I mean, I don’t know where Noah is, either, but the two of them barely know each other. It’s not likely that they would have run away together or something.”
While the entire community of Saginaw rallies around the search for Harper, both students and teachers have been expressing relief about Noah’s disappearance since classes resumed yesterday afternoon. “Noah Franklin is nothing but trouble,” says a teacher in the math department on the condition of anonymity. “He’s a bully and the entire teaching staff fears him. This high school is better off without him. I’m not even sure how he ever made it to senior year since his grades are deplorable, but I suspect teachers have been passing him just to move him through the system and be rid of him.”
Noah Franklin’s history of problematic behavior during his time at Saginaw High School is well document. A source in Principal Ewald’s office claims that Noah was suspended for a week as a freshman for intentionally dousing another student with toxic chemicals in the chemistry lab. As a sophomore, Noah was put suspended for a week for producing a lewd film featuring someone unknown wearing the school’s mascot costume, Pioneer Pete. He was subsequently put on expulsion warning when he was caught smoking in the second floor teacher’s lounge smoking during a class period. Junior year, Noah was identified as the organizer of a massive ditch day resulting in the entire class attending Six Flagg’s Great America on the day of mid-term testing.
“I’m scared,” admits Saginaw mother and beauty shop owner Irene Chesterton. “This is just like back when we were kids and Eddie Cleary vanished during the carnival weekend. I don’t think the cops ever had a clue what happened to him, and I don’t think they have a clue what happened to Noah or that girl now, either.”
Freshman Edward Cleary went missing on the Friday night of the holiday weekend and was never found. Police reports indicate that Eddie was challenged by seniors to trespass at the Saginaw Historical Settlement within the Saginaw Trails Forest Preserve, steal a piece of property. He was then expected to meet them back at the high school to receive his “initiation,” which is a local custom involving members of the senior class marking the faces of freshmen students as a sign of admission into the high school social scene. Eddie never arrived at the high school, and his parents reported him as missing the next morning when he didn’t return home. The case experienced a resurgence of interest eleven years ago when convicted serial murderer Roy Keswick suggested that Eddie Cleary may have been one of his victims, but police found no evidence supporting that claim.
|Sophomore Jaxon Forrester|
For two decades, rumors have surrounded both the high school and the surrounding forest preserve that the ghost of Eddie Cleary is lost, still trying to make his way to the gymnasium to meet with the seniors who challenged him.
“Yeah, I guess I see weird stuff around here sometimes,” admits sophomore Jaxon Forrester, who works part-time on the janitorial staff at Saginaw High School with his older brother, Ethan. “But whatever. There’s no such thing as ghosts. Whatever happened to Eddie Cleary happened a long time ago, and people should move on.”
Eddie’s parents, Mr. Edward Cleary, Sr. and Mrs. Anne Cleary were unavailable for comment as they have both passed away in recent years. The administration of Saginaw High School would like to remind all students that the tradition of initiation is strongly forbidden. The Saginaw Police Department is asking any students who may have information about the whereabouts of Harper Barnes to contact them.
Read more about the missing students at Saginaw High School in Zoe Aarsen’s book,
INITIATION NIGHT, on Wattpad.