Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Sister’s Undying Love: Cassandra Cales on Stacy Peterson

Cassandra Cales (left) and missing sister Stacy Peterson.

Four and half years ago, Stacy Peterson made a late morning call to her family. That was the last anyone has heard from her. Despite extensive searches, no trace of her has been found. Her husband, Drew Peterson now resides in the Will County Adult Detention Center in Joliet, Ill. Not for anything to do with Stacy, however. He’s there awaiting trial for the murder of the wife before Stacy, Kathleen Savio. Two years ago, Stacy’s sister Cassandra Cales posted this on the family’s website:



We have given up hope in finding Stacy alive however we have never given up hope in bringing her home, putting her to her final resting place and fighting for the justice she deserves. 

There is still an ongoing investigation with the Illinois State Police District 5. I Cassandra Cales and other members of the family continue our own searches and investigations. Some of you may think that because our searches have not been made public, or because I don’t make public statements, that we are not actively moving forward. As I stated in the beginning I would not stop searching until I find  Stacy, I am and will continue to look for Stacy, following all leads until I bring her home.  

Shortly after Stacy’s disappearance, I got the chance to talk with Cassandra. Here, from 2007 is that story.

Cassandra Cales

She has become the public face of determination.  Her strength and devotion have rallied others for one common goal–to find her sister, Stacy Peterson.  Twenty-two year old Cassandra Cales lives each minute of every day working herself to exhaustion trying to find Stacy.  While she’s athletic and physically strong, her heart aches with a pain no one can comprehend.  Stacy and Cassandra were very close–constant companions whether in person or on the phone.  They were soul sisters to the core.  Now Cassandra feels the worst has happened.  Her sister, just a year older than her is gone and Drew Peterson, a rogue cop, a disgraceful cop human being and also Stacy’s husband is behind it.

News reports in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Ill., show Cassandra trying hard to be strong.  Marching from the home of Drew Peterson’s former wife’s home, a wife who died under suspicious circumstances, to the home of Stacy, Cassandra stayed strong.  Cameras continued to roll when she broke down.  She didn’t want the world to see her tears.  But there they were.  The raw emotion of a sister on a mission.  A sister, everyone should be so lucky to have.

“She was so precious to me,” Cassandra said.  “He took her away from me and it’s tearing me up inside.”

Drew Peterson

That “he” is Drew Peterson.  As Cassandra cried, he would clown around in front of TV cameras joking about the weight he’s lost since Stacy left.   He’s considered a suspect in Stacy’s disappearance.  His previous wife’s death is now also being re-investigated.

“She’s the only one in the world I loved more than anything,” Cassandra told me.

Stacy and Cassandra were close throughout their lives.  “We were all we had when we were growing up.  We were best friends.  And after Tina passed away, we made a pact that no matter what, we’d be together.  Through thick and thin and always be there for each other.”  Tina Ryan died of cancer last year at just 30.

And they never strayed from that pact.  When Cassandra was in the hospital in her teens, Stacy would be with her everyday.  When Stacy married, they remained close.  “We’d talk several times a day by phone and see each other every other day or every couple of days.”  Stacy has two children two-year old Lacy and 4-year-old Anthony. She also adopted her husband’s two boys.  She doted on all the kids and would never leave them willingly.

That’s how Cassandra knew something was wrong October 28.  She filed a missing person’s report after not getting her daily phone call from Stacy.  Her husband claimed she’d run off to Jamaica with a boyfriend.  Nobody believed that.  Searches began and continue with Cassandra a big part of them.  So far, no leads.

Cassandra spends her days now printing fliers, searching and using the internet to get the word out about her sister.  And she spends a lot of time crying.  She can’t even see Stacy’s kids at the moment.  “I called to see if I could have them for Thanksgiving and over night and he said no.”  That’s pretty rough considering the kids look at her as their favorite “aunty.”

Last week, she posted a blog.  She called it “A Sister’s Love!” and no one could write it any better.  Here’s a portion of it.  The rest can be found on the Myspace page she created for Stacy.

I just wanted to tell you all that it really touches my heart to see you all sending me and my family your love and prayers. I know I’ve been doing my best to try and stay strong. But I truly believe it is you all that are lifting me up with your prayers and messages you send me. So let me tell you about my sister Stacy Ann Cales (I don’t consider her a Peterson) she was the most wonderful person you could ever meet. She could walk into a room with people she didn’t know and bring a smile to everyone’s  face. Granted I could do the same. Which is why we were so close, we did everything together, from the time we were lil taking baths together til just 2 1/2 weeks ago just hanging out and being there for each other. When one of us was down for whatever reason we would be there for each other. She would always call me a bunch a times a day just to see how my day was going and how I was feeling, and tell me how my lil nephew’s and niece were doing….When we would be in her Denali (SUV) with all the kids me and Stacy would sing all loud and goofy, to embarrass Thomas and Kristopher. They would laugh and giggle thinking we were crazy. But we just liked to have fun, and make others have a good time. Me and her were two pea’s in a pod, that I thought could never be split apart.  I have to say that this is the worst pain I’ve ever felt, I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. From this great tragedy comes great strength. I will not stop looking for my sister until she is found. She would have done the same thing for me. God lets everything happen for a reason, so all we can do is keep praying and let him guide us to her. It’s only a matter of time before we do find her. Thank you all for being here for me through these harsh times. It really means a lot.

“I look at her pictures everyday and tell her I love her,” Cassandra told me.  “And I tell her I won’t give up.”

Your Vote Can Help This Young New York Mom-Nicole Piper Adams

Two years ago, I wrote a story about a young New York mother who is one of the bravest people I know. Nicole Piper Adams continues to fight and could use your help. It costs nothing more than a few minutes to vote for her. Here is how you can do just that and then a reprint of that story from January 2010.

From her father, Marty Piper: My daughter Nicole needs help. When she was pregnant in 2007, Nicole and the baby growing inside her both survived a risky surgery to remove a tumor on Nicole’s brain stem. Now Nicole is fighting to regain the physical losses she sustained, and to help raise her two daughters.

My mission is to drum up the support she needs to speed her recovery. Please take a few minutes to look at her links, including two touching videos on her story from our local newspaper. I’m sure you’ll agree, Nicole can use all the help we can muster.

Nicole is now in a Q6 power chair, we have no way to transport this chair at this time. You can vote here.

Nicole Piper Adams (right) before her surgery.

Nearly three years ago, Nikki Adams had some news—some very good news. But Nikki wasn’t one to just blurt out an announcement like this. No, that just wasn’t her way. She let her closest confidant in on a secret and made a shirt that heralded in news that would change her life in so many ways. That confidant was her then 2-year-old daughter Amelia. Nikki dressed her in a shirt that said, “I’m going to be a big sister!” Yes, after trying for a while, Nikki and her husband Dave were about to add to their young family. All was good. It was Easter Sunday, 2007.

Marty and Carol Piper raised what they call a rebel. “We were Pepsi people,” Marty said. “When Nikki was old enough to choose, she went with Coke,” he laughed. “She always marched to her own beat.” Nikki was the oldest and big sister to the Pipers’ second daughter Shannon. Having a loving mother and a young sister to look after helped make Nikki not only a great mom, but a fiercely protective one. She would make sure no harm would come to her babies.

The pregnancy was going well but Nikki’s health wasn’t. Severe headaches and vomiting were thought to be just a bad first trimester. If only that were the case. “Doctors found a tumor the size of a pea near her brain stem,” Marty recalled. “They wanted to operate and remove it but warned Nikki that she could lose the baby.” She wouldn’t have it. She vowed to hold off on the surgery to save her child. But the tumor grew. In 6 weeks, it swelled to the size of a thumb. It was now critical to remove it before both Nikki and the baby died.

“It was serious,” Marty said, “but the doctors said that there was an 80-85% chance she’d be just fine.”

On June 29, 2007 Nikki closed her eyes as the anesthesia flowed into her body. Her biggest fear was she’d lose the baby. The surgery began at 8 a.m. Twelve hours later, the surgeon came out to tell the Pipers that things were going well and they should get something to eat. They returned a short time later and found their world turned upside down.

“Her brain swelled during the surgery,” Marty recalled. “They had to cut, cut, cut to keep her brain in her head. It was a life or death situation so to get everything out, they had to take some of her cerebellum.”

Nikki slipped into a coma. Her baby, however was still strong inside her. In fact, while still in the coma, little Piper Adams was born by c-section.

“When she came out of the month-long coma, we told her Piper was alive and well. She couldn’t communicate with us then but we could tell she couldn’t believe it,” Carol said.  It took about 6 months before Nikki was alert enough to understand what had happened.

Nicole Piper Adams-always the optimist despite unbelievable odds.

“She understands everything,” Carol said. “And she can communicate perfectly. It’s just not the way you or I do. She uses a group letter board. The alphabet is broken up into 5 rows. She’ll raise her hand if she wants to say something and say “Row 1, Row 2” and if she shakes her head, that’s the row where the letter is. If you read the letters across the row, she’ll stop you when the you get to the letter she wants. Because her eye sight is so poor now, she memorized it within an hour. Her cognitive functions are still intact.”

She’s made great strides with walking. She still needs a lot of support and part of the problem is that she’s partially paralyzed. She has movement in all parts of her body but it’s limited. As far as walking in the future, Carol said, “We don’t give up hope, she doesn’t give up hope, some of her therapists don’t give up hope. We see slight improvements however recently the state medical program cut back on her physical and occupational therapy. So we’re not seeing the improvements we did see when she was getting them. We have a couple of therapists who come to the house volunteering their time because they like her.”

Because of her medical needs, Nikki currently lives in the home she grew up in with her parents in Marcellus, New York. Amelia and Piper live in the couple’s home and come over to visit a couple of times a week.

“Being with her kids is what keeps her alive,” Marty said.

Her spirits are up and down. She loves a good joke, she even tells jokes. She laughs and then an hour later she might be crying. She does get frustrated because she can’t do what she used to do. But, Carol adds, her good friends are wonderful. They come over all the time. “They have her on what they call the 5 year plan. Their hopes are that 5 years from the date of the operation, Nikki will be back up. And they joke around and have a great time. When they’re here they’ll laugh, busting a gut telling stories and things that are going on with them.”

But not too far down from what appears to be a blank expression, is the same Nikki her family loves. She still loves her music, in particular the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink. She enjoys listening to television and even shopping online. At the same time, like her family, she’s filled with the hope someone, someday will be able to help her walk with her children.

“We’re trying to push this forward and find some alternatives for healing with things like stem cell research,” Carol said. “We ask people around here and no one seems to know anything about it. We run into a brick wall. We’ve talked to doctors, the hospital, and neurosurgeons. They say ‘yeah you can pursue that’ but when we ask how, they say to look it up and find out what’s out there.”

While Carol spends a lot of her time taking care of Nikki’s needs, Marty is desperately looking for help anywhere he can find it. He opened a Facebook account to help spread her story. “In 2008, NASCAR legend Ernie Irvan came to Syracuse to break ground on a brain injury hospital wing so I went down there and introduced myself to his agent. I gave him a video about Nikki and her story. He put them in his brief case. I just wanted to get her story out there.”

“Since the surgery, I spent about a year in shock,” Marty said, “before I could even do anything. And then I got the idea in my head to get her story out, that maybe someone like Oprah would be interested. We don’t want money. We don’t want lawyers. We want someone who can help—someone who’s willing to try to get my Nikki back on her feet. If I had $100 million, I’d burn it today if someone could come in here and stand her up out of that chair.”

If you or someone you know can help Nikki, and again, this is not in a financial or legal way, but rather someone in the medical community who can embrace her and at the very least offer hope toward a better way of life for her, contact her father Marty at

On 30th anniversary of missing Alexander “Edwin” Shaw IV, sister promotes unclaimed 1983 North Carolina Governor’s reward money

North Carolina ( March 7, 2012)-  On March 16, thirty years will have passed since Alexander Edwin Shaw IV’s wrecked car was found slammed into  a pine tree near his home in Wagram , NC.   His disappearance generated an extensive land and Lumber River search by sixteen rescue units, and a National Guard and Ft. Brag army helicopter.  Search efforts continued for several days but no trace was found that week and none has been found in the thirty years that have passed.

His sister, Grace Shaw Abrams of Greenville, SC and mother Jane Blake Shaw of Chadbourn, NC are giving notice of unclaimed 1983 reward money.  The state of North Carolina still has $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the disappearance of Alexander Edwin Shaw IV, of Wagram, NC formerly of Chadbourn, NC.  According to Janie Pinkston Sutton, Special Agent in Charge, N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Southeastern District, this reward will remain in effect until such time as information is received that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Mrs. Abrams said, “Our family is offering an additional $5000.00 making a total of $10,000.00 in reward money.”  Anyone having information concerning the case should contact Investigator Jonathan Edwards of Scotland County Sheriff’s Department or the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Southeastern District. Edwin Shaw’s missing person profile is located at  or­­­­­­­­­. NamUs provides a national centralized publicly accessible database for missing persons and the unidentified.  The database is available to law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners and the public.

Namus staff and advocates were recently in Elizabethtown, North Carolina conducting NamUs training for sixty law enforcement agencies from several North Carolina counties : Robeson, Cumberland, Moore , and Bladen to name a few on how to utilize the database to assist with missing persons cases.  In addition they gave missing person’s families an opportunity to establish a profile and provide family DNA samples to be compared against the unidentified bodies’ database.

“We hope the reminder of the unclaimed reward money on this anniversary will lead someone to contact the authorities.  Thanks to NamUs forgotten missing persons cases can be remembered.  Cold missing persons cases like my brother’s do matter to families- after all we are the ones left behind without resolution and every missing person has family somewhere.” says Mrs. Abrams.

In an effort to bring awareness to the NamUs web tool and her brother’s mystery missing story, Grace began a blog on his 53rd birthday January 23.