During a brief press point this morning, Buncombe County Sheriff Will Stoddard confirmed the identity of the pregnant woman found wandering along Highway 251 near the French Broad River north of Asheville, North Carolina, last Friday.
She is Stephanie Llewellyn-Maddox, of the Long Island Maddoxes, who went missing almost a year ago to the day during a fox hunt in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ms. Maddox has reappeared when most of us are at pains to somewhat disappear.
Commenting about her medical condition, Sheriff Stoddard said she was in “remarkable good health, considering” but that “doctors wanted to keep her under observation.
An extensive search was conducted last year, mobilizing police, park rangers and volunteers who combed the woods for weeks without success.
Sheriff Stoddard was asked where Ms. Maddox had been and with whom. He didn’t go into details, simply answering that “she was cooperating with the investigation”.
Ms. Maddox’s attorney, Desmond Bloch, of Dunleavy, Upstill, Majors & Bloch, was more forthcoming and revealed that his client had been taken by “a large hairy solitary male living in the woods.” The Maddox family intends to sue the county and the park services for reckless endangerment. “How could they let a monster like that roam free in an area visited by millions of tourists?” Bloch said. He didn’t mince words and used the B word. “For years they kept saying Bigfoot was a legend; it was clearly an excuse for doing nothing. It’s blatant incompetence. We are outraged.”
Dotty Bainbridge, a cousin, was in tears when she recalled her phone conversation with Stephanie. “She’s in shock, obviously, and conflicted. Relieved to be back to civilization and yet concerned about BF – that’s what she calls him. She’s afraid the police will hurt him, and she’s carrying his baby, you know? That creates a bond, no matter how you look at it. She tried to explain the relationship and she couldn’t find the words. BF is very big and powerful. Intimidating, and Steph is not a fragile little thing, you know?” She hesitated. “He was demanding. Let’s leave it at that.” Asked how Stephanie managed to escape, Ms. Bainbridge said: “BF is fond of moonshine. He broke into a still last week and was in his cups for days. Steph lost patience with him. She said she didn’t want to raise a baby with an alcoholic father.”
M.E. Proctor worked as a communication professional and a freelance journalist. After forays into SF, she’s currently working on a series of contemporary detective novels. Her short stories have been published in Willesden Herald, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, The Bookends Review, The Blue Nib, Ripples in Space, Fiction on the Web, and other publications in the U.S., UK and Europe. She lives in Livingston, Texas.