HANNIBAL — A Hannibal woman said she believes more fervently than ever that her daughter will be found, as family members, friends and other well-wishers gathered for a benefit to rejuvenate the search 10 years since she went missing.
Cindy Young said her daughter, Christina Whittaker, went missing Nov. 13, 2009, just six months after her granddaughter, Alexandria Johnston, was born. Young and other loved ones and friends organized a benefit on Saturday, Nov. 16, at American Legion Post 55 to help hire a private investigator in Peoria, Ill., where Young has searched various times and talked with people who said they had seen her daughter. The American Legion was filled with baskets, wreaths, handmade items and other items being raffled or auctioned to help with a renewed search for Whittaker in the Peoria, Ill., area.
Becki Woodworth helped Young set up the various items in the silent auction and raffle, and she made several of the wreaths and baskets on display. She said Young had been tirelessly setting up every aspect of the event to help find her daughter, and she was happy to see donations had come in from across the community.
“I was amazed how many different people donated,” Woodworth said.
Young made the rounds through the silent auction items with Shelby Culp, manager of the Cricket Wireless store in Hannibal. She streamed the auction live on Facebook and worked at a table with cellphone accessories for sale to benefit the cause.
Brittany White is friends with Whittaker's daughter, Alexandria, and she was carrying around hand-crocheted items and rocks Alexandria painted by hand to help raise money.
“We thought it would be a blessing to come and celebrate with our friends, because [Cindy's husband, Alex] is not quite family, but we consider him as family because we're close to friends,” White said.
Regina Webb worked as a private investigator in the area, who was part of a documentary about Whittaker's case nine years ago. She said that she didn't have intimate knowledge of the Peoria area where people had reported seeing Whittaker, but she and fellow investigators followed up on leads in the Hannibal, Quincy, Ill., and Peoria, Ill., areas over the past ten years.
She said she was donating her time to help with the benefit and work to get help more people together for the search. She said various enforcement agencies working together can make a big difference through their cooperation, and she and fellow investigators would follow through with every lead they received about Whittaker.
Young said all the donations, support and people coming out were “a huge blessing to us.” She was happy for the chance for people to listen to music, enjoy food and visit together as everyone helped with the effort to find her daughter.
She said she's received a strong outpouring of support, with several people giving her cash donations over the past few weeks leading up to Saturday's event. And Young said every gift helped make the difference that could bring her daughter home.
“I believe that with all these donations that we've got and all the hard work we put in it — God blessed us so much,” Young said. “I believe that were so blessed with all of these gifts, that something big's going to come out of it. I believe something really good and something big is going to happen to her case — I do with all my heart and soul.”
More information may be submitted to local police departments like the Hannibal Police Department at 777 Broadway in Hannibal, by calling 573-221-0987 or emailing www.hannibalpd.com/ crime-tip-form. People can also search Pray For The Safe Return of Christina Whittaker Young on Facebook or reach out to Young at 573-406-8439.