(CBS) FRIENDSWOOD, Texas – After 25 years covering crime, I consider myself a pretty tough, thick-skinned reporter, but even so, there are certain tragic stories that stay with you and even haunt you throughout your career.
One of those occurred in 1997 and involved the disappearance of a Texas girl, a child who was just days away from turning into a teenager. Her name: Laura Smither.
Even today, 14-and-a-half years later, I can’t hear her name without
immediately seeing her delicate-boned, smiling face, captured for
posterity on film and video.
In April 1997, while working for CBS News’ “48 Hours” and just days after Laura had vanished, I traveled to the middle class community of Friendswood, south of Houston, to spend time with Laura’s parents, Bob and Gay Smither. Laura was home-schooled, rarely out of her mother’s sight,