WHITNEY: Family deserves answers, justice

Last week, my daughter walked out the front door without me.

While I ran upstairs to change my clothes, she put on her little pink rainboots, opened the front door left unlocked after a guest left, walked down the front steps and around the corner of the house, where urgent hyacinth-picking business beckoned her.

I came back down, looked toward the front door and there I saw the top of her little blonde head through the lower window of the front door. I threw the door open and she spun around, holding the hyacinth high and grimacing, no doubt waiting for me to shout but hoping I’d change my mind once I saw the gift.

It was a pretty tense five minutes — in reality, it was probably shorter than that.

It’s nothing compared to the five years Kristin Spires’ family have spent searching for answers about what happened the day she walked out the door and never came home.

Kristin disappeared May 17, 2010, a few weeks before I moved to Big Rapids in 2010, and her story was one of the first I worked on while covering crime and courts in our area.

Through the years, I’ve watched her family move through the grieving process. We’ve talked about Kristin on car rides and back porches. I’ve heard stories about her kindness, goofiness, ability to make anyone laugh. Her parents glow when they talk about her, the same way I’m sure I light up when I talk about my own daughter. They still find a way to laugh when telling the silliest of her stories.

Five years later, Kristin’s family is no closer to having answers to those still-lingering questions about her death, no closer to seeing anyone behind bars for her murder. And that’s unthinkable.

This is a small town, a close-knit community where people believe they can trust their neighbors and leave their doors unlocked.

But there’s someone here (maybe multiple people) who saw something or who knows something that could help police, and they still haven’t come forward. Because of that, Kristin’s killer is still free, potentially still here in Big Rapids. Not only does that leave Kristin’s case unsolved, it makes this community less safe.

Whether your child is 2 or 20, a parent’s worst nightmare is that their child will fall into wrong hands when they walk out your front door without you.

If you know something about Kristin’s case, say something. Until someone is convicted of killing Kristin, we can’t escape the fact that these streets aren’t quite as safe as we’d like to imagine.

Anyone with information about what happened to Kristin Spires is asked to call the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 592-0150.