MURDER MUD

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On March 22, 2014, a mud slide engulfed 49 homes and other structures in a neighborhood a few miles east of Oso, Washington. 43 people were killed.

Twenty-two-year-old Jordan McFadden’s husband, Kyle, died in his sleep that morning when the slide covered their small home with mud eighteen feet deep.

During the following weeks, Jordan waited anxiously while workers dug for and recovered bodies. She filed a claim with her insurance company and waited for six hundred thousand dollars to compensate her for her lost home and personal property.

In July the Snohomish County Sheriff declared every structure had been searched, and the final victim had been recovered and identified. They had not found Kyle.

Jordan assumed the searchers had somehow missed Kyle’s body or it had been washed away.

In August Jordan’s agent told her the insurance money had been directly deposited into her account. When she went to make a withdrawal, she learned Kyle had already taken all but $100.

Devastated, Jordan decided to hitchhike to Reno where her cousin, a disabled army veteran, had offered her a room in his apartment while she put her life back together. While she stood in an unexpected rain south of Pendleton, Oregon, a man towing a travel trailer offered her a ride. When she learned he worked for an insurance company, she told him her story and asked for help.

Dan Ballantine gives in to a sympathetic impulse and commences a search for Kyle McFadden and the six hundred thousand dollars he had turned into gold coins.

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