On May 17th in 1982 the Odessa Police department dispatch gets a call from a distressed husband.  He tells dispatch that his 17 year-old pregnant wife left to take his sister to work hours ago and she had yet to return.  Joe Guerrero had last seen his wife as she was leaving the house to use the family car to take his sister work, she had mentioned needing to put some gas in the vehicle but Joe checked the gauge and seeing that it had about a quarter of a tank he knew it would be enough for the trip.  Blanca and Joe were newlyweds and she was just 3 ½ months pregnant at the time.  She wasn’t even showing yet but was already excited about buying maternity clothes.  She and her husband had planned to set out to find her some upon her return from dropping off Joe’s sister.  Hours went by and Joe began to feel uneasy.  He knew Blanca would’ve came right back unless something had happened so he decided it was time to make some calls and set out to find her. He didn’t find Blanca that night, but what he did find was the vehicle she was driving.  He didn’t know it before she left but the gas gauge was broken, she had ran out of gas.  The car was found on 7th street in Odessa, behind an Albertson’s, out of gas and with its emergency lights flashing.  After some police questioning a clerk in the supermarket is found that says he saw a girl matching Blanca’s description get into a blue pickup truck driven by a white male.  A Witness was found who said they saw a woman matching Blanca’s description enter the store to use the phone.  It would seem that Blanca ran out of gas near the store and was trying to find a way home.  The clerk said that it didn’t appear that the girl getting in to the blue pickup truck was forced so it sounded like someone had offered her a ride.  A missing person’s report appears in The Odessa American on May 20th, 1982.

 

Blanca’s family set out to find her.  Just days after the small article appears in the paper searches are organized.  Family and friends and local law enforcement do whatever they can to locate the missing girl but nothing turns up.  All they know is that she ran out of gas after dropping off her sister-in-law and at some point there’s a strong possibility that she accepted a ride from a man in a blue truck.

The case goes cold.

 

A few weeks later on June 11th,(technically late in the evening on Friday June 10th) Branda Kay Broadway (31) and her two daughters, Selena Elms (14) and Christy Elms (8) are abducted from a car wash near Kermit, Tx, just a little over an hour away from Odessa. Brenda was a single mom and she worked hard to provide for her two girls, at the time she was working at the local VFW as a barmaid.

Screenshot Kermit VFW

(I’ve been to that VFW there in Kermit.  We went for karaoke night and it was an absolute blast.)

She didn’t have much time with her daughters, whom she loved dearly, so the impromptu late outing was a chance to spend a little time with her girls while running an errand.  She got lucky and was off early that night so it was an unexpected surprise for the girls.

Now I’m going to take a break right here so that I can try and keep myself even but it would be a disservice to the girls and their family if I didn’t do my best to try and convey the darkness and the pure terror of the moment.  If you’re a parent and are the kind of person that immediately relates to the emotions of a moment, you may want to skip the next part.

Not long after they arrived at the all night car wash, a man in a blue pickup truck drove up.  A nice looking man.  When he asked Brenda if she needed any help she accepted, I’m sure thinking he was just a typical Texas gentlemen.  The four of them began to wash the car, although the man wasn’t someone Brenda knew, they talked and laughed as they scrubbed like old friends.  When the deed was done the girls jumped back into the car, ready to head back home with their mom.  Everything happened fast so I’m sure there was no time for any of them to truly understand the gravity of what was happening, or what was going to happen.  As Brenda turned to join the girls, after she thanked him for his help, the man grabbed her by her hair and instructed her to tell her girls to get out and get into his truck.  She begged him to let them go but the begging only made him angry.  Once in the vehicle he made them take their clothes off.  He told them if they were naked they wouldn’t run.

Imagine being a single mother of two young children, doing everything you can to take care of them, to give them everything they need.  Unfortunately, then just as now, doing that on your own meant sacrificing the most valuable thing to any parent, time.  Time with your children, especially when they’re young is so very precious, but when you’re the only one paying the bills you have to do what you have to do.  That means you take every opportunity to squeeze in as many moments as you can, no matter, when or where.  That’s exactly what Brenda was doing that night.  To the girls being out late on a Friday night to help mom wash the car was a treat.  I can’t even begin to imagine the fear that Brenda was feeling.

To anyone reading this, no matter what, if you’re taken by force to another location fight…fight hard and don’t stop fighting.  I’m sure Brenda would have done so had she not been taken with her children.  Sharp must have known that taking Brenda with her girls would likely keep her compliant.  He put the youngest of her girls in the back behind the driver’s seat, knowing that even if the mother dared to grab the daughter next to her and jump out of the vehicle, it would mean leaving her other daughter behind, and she would never do that.

That night would be the last time they were able to hold each other, the last time a mother was able to hold her little girls, the last time they would feel the comfort of their mothers arms, the last time they would know the smell of her hair and the sound of her voice. Brenda begged for their lives, tried to reason with him and even offer him money, anything to save her girls.

I try not to get too wrapped up in the thoughts of what Brenda was thinking and feeling as it takes me to a very dark, heavy place in my heart.  The only comforting thought about that ride was that they were together because I know what it’s like for a family to be together, holding each other in the moments before someone leaves this earth.  However, it wasn’t an unseen force that drove the girls out to the middle of the West Texas darkness, though it was monster all the same.  Michael Eugene Sharp drove the girls out into the darkness. When they reached a gate and the monster got out to open it, Selena would never forget what her mom said to her… “He’s going to kill us”.  Selena, and the girls kept their eyes on every move the monster made, looking for any opportunity for escape.  Selena paid attention to everything she saw as they drove and of her surroundings once there.  He made them all get out of the truck and he sexually assaulted the girls for about half an hour all the while Brenda begging him to let them go.  When he was done he tied the three up, by their wrists, elbows and ankles.

When Sharp began to tie her feet together, Selena, 14 years old at the time, held her feet slightly apart because she was worried it would hurt if they were tied too tightly together, a decision that would end up saving her life.  He threw Brenda to the ground, screaming and crying “Oh my God, Oh my God!”, to which Sharp replied, “There isn’t a God, if there was a God this wouldn’t be happening to you”.  As the monster stabbed her mother to death somehow there was a moment when Selena could think clear enough to realize that she could slip one of her feet out of the binds around her ankles. As soon as she got that one foot loose and got to her feet she saw the monster turn to her sister, her instincts had already kicked in and she bolted into the night.

When you drive to an oil field road at night, unless you’ve got a particularly bright and starry night, it’s pitch black most everywhere you look.  She was wrists and elbows were still tied together and she was naked as she ran through the black and the west Texas wilderness.  She hit a barbed wire fence that cut her forehead but even as the blood trickled down her face she wiggled under the wires and kept going.  Moments later she saw the headlights of the truck no more than 30 feet away, she thought surely she was caught but the truck turned and kept going.  Selena was alone, naked, in the dark, the monster may have stopped pursuing her but she was still a long way from safety.  She eventually came across what looked like a road and she followed it to the lights of a drilling rig.  The men working on the rig immediately flew into action, they met her on the road, wrapped her in a blanket and hurried to phone the authorities.  When the men in blue arrived they asked her where he mother was.  Selena knew there was no way her mother could’ve survived the attack she saw and she also knew that her sister likely met the same fate.  She told them she was dead and pointed in the direction she had come from.  When they asked about her little sister, she told them the same.  Over three miles away the bodies of Selena’s mother and her little sister were found in a shallow grave.  She had somehow been able to lead them back to the last place she was with her mom and sister.

 

Come back tomorrow for part 2