COLONA - Crews used a bigger excavator Friday at the Rock River in the search for Trudy Appleby.
Appleby went missing August 1st, 1996, but a new lead this week has investigators looking for her once again. Friends of the Appleby family say this newest search is a big surprise.
"I got a call probably mid morning from the newspaper asking me to comment," First Baptist Church Pastor Brian Fischer recalls of hearing about the news. "I had no idea what was going on."
Appleby's family goes to the Fischer's church in East Moline. On August 21st, Fischer will hold his sixth vigil for the Appleby family.
"I'll say East Moline, and people will say, 'is that the Trudy Appleby church?'" Fischer said.
Fischer is close with Trudy's grandmother Ann Eddleman. Eddleman spoke with the media again Friday. She also went out to the Rock River for the first time since the new investigation.
"Even if they don't find anything, or if they find her and she's deceased, it's bad," she said. "But it's closure."
Fischer says a search at this point in the year makes it extremely tough on the family. August 21st marks exactly 16 years since Appleby went missing.
"If they find evidence, that's bad," Fischer said. "If they don't find any evidence, that's bad too. So they don't get any closure."
First Baptist Church has the infamous "Missing" sign up on its door. The sign was posted three years ago, with a drawing of what Appleby may have looked like in 2009. It also has information on it for people to call if they have any leads.
"It helps us every time we come to church," Fischer said. "It helps us remember the family, and to reach out to them all the time."
Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. August 21st at the First Baptist Church. At the Rock River, investigators have not talked to the media since the search began Thursday.
No word on whether crews will be back Saturday. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (309) 792-9500.