WATERLOO | Jan Reimer isn’t a stereotypical biker chick, but she wouldn’t miss the opportunity Saturday to ride along with motorcycle enthusiasts.
Reimer likes the outdoors, but her husband, Dennis, is the biker. The real reason Reimer started her day at Silver Eagle Harley-Davidson was to ride for a cause.
Reimer is a long-time friend of Linda Christie, grandmother of 5-year-old Evelyn Miller of Floyd who was murdered in 2005. The Reimers, of Cedar Falls, have long supported their friends, teaching Andy Christie, Evelyn’s father, in Sunday school; through the loss of Evelyn; and again on Saturday for a public remembrance of Evelyn.
“We just came out to support the Christies,” Reimer said. “We just try to be there for them.”
And it wasn’t just the Reimers. The Christie family had ample evidence of the community’s support throughout the day.
More than 100 motorcycle enthusiasts with A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education, or ABATE, District 16 started off the memorial ride in Waterloo for Evelyn Miller and Johnny Gosch, with more riders expected to join in the fund-raising effort along the way to their final stop in Hawkeye.
“This ride is a symbol of the community’s support of missing and exploited children,” Linda Christie said. “I’m so deeply touched by all the support and hard work.”
Though the Christie family are not themselves motorcycle enthusiasts, they participated in the ride by traveling in a red Nissan Sentry, donated by Dan Deery, that bears the logo for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and names the children whose memories were honored Saturday.
Johnny Gosch’s mother could not attend due to family illnesses, but Linda Christie had been in contact with her and passed along her gratitude to the motorcyclists as well.
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This is ABATE’s second year honoring the memory of missing or murdered Iowa children, and fundraising for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The event raised more than $2,000 last year, but one of the event’s organizers, Mindy Riley, said they hoped to receive more donations this year.
“Kids are very important, and we want everybody to know how important they are,” Riley said of the reason for doing the memorial motorcycle ride.
Riley said she was born around the time Johnny Gosch went missing in Des Moines in 1982, so she was raised with the warnings about how easy it is for a child to disappear. Johnny was doing his paper route early one morning when he disappeared, and he has not been heard from again.
The Christie family also stressed the importance of keeping children safe, along with keeping alive the memory of Evelyn and Johnny.
“It’s an issue that is becoming an epidemic all over the world,” said Lindsey Christie, stepmother of Evelyn. “People need to be aware that it can happen in their backyard.”
Tina Spears, Evelyn’s aunt, also urged people to be aware that not all people are who they seem. She encouraged people to have the courage to speak up if they see any warning signs a person is capable of reprehensible crimes.
Casey Frederiksen, the boyfriend of Evelyn Miller's mother when the girl was killed, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual abuse in the 5-year-old's death.
Both Spears and Linda Christie are convinced of his guilt. Frederiksen’s trial is scheduled for September in Webster City.
Lindsey Christie said the family has held mostly private remembrances since Evelyn was killed in 2005, but the family agreed the public outpouring of support was beneficial and healing.
“I would say it’s very therapeutic and healing to see all these people out here for my angel niece,” Spears said. “Even the horror she went through, I kind of feel now she’s at peace, and that’s all I could ever hope for.”