Trudy Appleby’s dad says ‘we’re close’ to bringing case to a close

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Nearly 22 years after an 11-year-old girl disappeared, police are reaching for some answers...

using this billboard:

Billboard seeking answers in disappearance of Trudy Appleby, located at Highway 5 near Barstow Road in East Moline

Trudy Appleby disappeared in August of 1996.

"Everybody’s just tired of the same old same old," said her father Dennis Appleby. "We want this to be done and over."

Moline Police Detective Michael Griffin said he's more confident than ever that this case will be resolved.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people that want to solve this case, and they're putting pressure on these people (who know something) and they won't be able to withstand it," he said." Detective Griffin said.  He said the people that police believe know something are expected to see the billboards often, because they were strategically placed.

"... we're going to do everything we can to do it, if that means using 2018 technology, if that means using 1990s billboards and passing out flyers, and if I can get her face on a milk carton I'll do it."

Trudy father shares a similar confidence. While holding up his thumb and index finger he said, "we're this close. We are very very close."   But with the thought of a resolution, Appleby also thinks of his loved ones.

"Yes (it would be good) in that it could finally be done and over," he said. "No in that her mom and grandma didn't get to see any of this."

Trudy's mom Brenda Gordon lost her life back in 2014 when she was hit by a car while crossing Avenue of the Cities.  Trudy's grandmother, Ann Eddleman, passed away in January of 2015, according to her obituary on the Van Hoe Funeral Home website.

Police said they started getting more tips in the case back in 2017, when they announced William "Ed" Smith, who had passed away, as a person of interest.

A witness also told police he saw Smith with Trudy the day she disappeared.

In a previous interview with WQAD News 8's Chris Minor, the witness, David Whipple, said he doesn't know anymore than what he's already said. 

"I was sitting at home watching my two boys that day," Whipple said in that 2017 interview. "I just happened to see the car go by. I seen Ed drive by. I seen what could have been Trudy. Probably Trudy? Could have been."

Related: Trudy Appleby’s dad to main witness in disappearance case; ‘I’m calling you out’

"I know (Trudy) got tricked into something that was out of her element and she paid the ultimate price and the cover up has been in the crime ever since," said Appleby.

"I can tell you that the people withholding information that have a responsibility in the death and disappearance of Trudy Appleby are cracking," said Detective Griffin. "They're being put under an immense amount of pressure."

And with the billboards planted, it's just a matter of the right person coming forward.

"I just refuse to believe that I’m gonna go to my grave and not ever know the final truth," Appleby said.

The billboards are both located in East Moline.  One at 19th Street and 5th Avenue and the other at Highway 5 near Barstow Road.

Click here for full coverage of the Trudy Appleby investigation.