One year later, no sign of missing woman

Monday, May 23, 2011

One year has passed since Benedetta “Beth” Bentley vanished, apparently while on a visit to Mount Vernon.

For her friends and family, the year has been filled with birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, all made bittersweet without their loved one there to share.

But most heartbreaking, is Bentley’s utter silence, the frustrating day-after-day silence: No phone calls, no texts, no soothing words spoken, no laughter, no communication at all.

“This was a mother who spoke to her children every day, texted with them four or five times a day, and all of a sudden, and it’s been a year now, there is no contact,” friend Angela Montgomery said. “The kids are … heartbroken.”

Bentley, 41 of Woodstock was last seen one year ago today while on a visit to Southern Illinois with a friend. The friend, who was visiting her boyfriend and his brother in Mount Vernon, told police she dropped Bentley off at the Amtrak station in Centralia on May 23.

Police, who did not return calls for this story, cannot confirm Bentley ever got on the train that day.

In the weeks after Bentley’s disappearance, Montgomery and others began a desperate search for Bentley, launching a Facebook page, posting flyers, placing billboards alongside major highways and offering a reward for information leading to her whereabouts.

The campaign did not dredge up any clues leading to Bentley.

“We believe that Beth is the victim of foul play. We believe she went to Mount Vernon, and she never left. We believe that whatever happened, happened in Mount Vernon,” Montgomery said.

State police and local law enforcement agencies have taken an active role in the investigation, as have Woodstock police, Montgomery said.

“We just want her back. This has been really hard on her family. Her three children are hurt, bewildered and heartbroken. They are left with only their imagination, which is maybe worse than reality,” she said.

A balloon release took place Sunday in Woodstock to keep attention focused on the case. Balloons in pink and purple, Bentley’s favorite colors, were released to carry the message that she is still missing, Montgomery said.

“It was her son’s idea to mark the anniversary and make sure people knows Beth is not forgotten,” she said. “There have been a lot of opinions about what happened, but very simply, these children do not have a mother and she did not make the choice to leave them.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Woodstock Police Department at 815-338-2131. Calls may also be placed anonymously to 800-762-7867.



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