A candlelight prayer vigil commemorating the five-year anniversary of Lynn Messer's disappearance and death was held on Monday evening.
Friends, family members, and advocates calling for justice for Messer gathered outside the Ste. Genevieve County Prosecuting Attorney's Office on the front lawn of the county courthouse.
The vigil began at 7:30 p.m. with acoustic guitar and songs being played in Messer’s memory. A crowd of about 75 people held signs demanding answers and justice while they solemnly listened to the account of Messer’s disappearance.
Carolyn Deevers shared the timeline of Messer’s disappearance and death with vigil attendees.
Deevers is a St. Louis area abuse survivor advocate and one of the organizers of the rally. She has also followed the story of Messer's disappearance and death on her blog www.spiritualbattles.org.
Messer was reported missing from her home on the morning of July 8, 2014. Despite extensive searches, she remained missing until her body was discovered on the family farm on Nov. 1, 2016. No arrests have been made in the case to this date.
"Many questions remain surrounding Lynn Messer’s death. How did Lynn die? How could a small woman with an injured toe and hip replacements walk through pouring down rain in a thunderstorm, in the dark of night, over muddy ground, and according to family members, have to avoid electric fences in the dark, and open and closed multiple heavy gates to arrive at her destination?” said Deevers. “Was it murder? If so, was it premeditated? If it was murder, was her body moved or somehow concealed to keep search and rescue from finding her?
“Trained dogs should have found her scent, especially after a few days of her remains being in the elements,” Deevers said. “How is it possible her remains were not discovered in the extreme heat of the summer in a location that had a marked grid/map for everywhere the search teams and search dogs had looked?"
The prayer vigil attendees also heard remarks from Messer’s sons, Abram and Aarron, as well as her grandson, Gabe about how special Messer was and the impact her death has had on their family.
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Also helping to organize the prayer vigil was Cheryl Summers, a St. Louis area resident, domestic abuse survivor advocate and founder of the For Such A Time As This Rally, a group addressing abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Messer and her husband, Kerry were members of First Baptist Church in Festus-Crystal City. Kerry was the official lobbyist of the Missouri Baptist Convention and has served on the Executive Committee of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“Many times the reality of an abusive home life is not evident to the outside world,” said Summers. “The question of what Lynn faced behind closed doors in her own home is one that many of us have asked.
“We will gather on the 5th anniversary of Lynn’s death to remind the community that Lynn deserves justice, and her family deserves answers,” said Summers.
The vigil ended with people passing flames from their white candles to one another until the courthouse area was lit with an orange glow as the sunset. A final prayer for closure in the case was heard and a plea was made to bring justice and answers to Messer's loved ones.
"We continue to pray that the Lord will lead law enforcement, reveal the truth and bring justice," said Messer’s son Abram. "For five years, we have been praying and now, more than ever, we are confident that truth and justice will prevail."
The case remains open.
In late March 2017, the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department received a report on Messer's remains from the St. Louis County Chief Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Mary Case. At that time Case determined that Lynn had, in fact, been exposed to the elements for the entire two-year time period she had been missing.
During Case’s investigation she felt it would be beneficial to send off hair samples for toxicology testing since nothing came back indicating a definitive cause of death. Those results have since come back inconclusive.
Kerry Messer has said he believes his wife committed suicide.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.