UPDATE: On Tuesday, Moline Police executed a search warrant in the 600 block of 8th Street in Colona in connection to the 1996 disappearance of 11-year-old Trudy Appleby. The search of the
property did not locate any human remains, a Moline Police news release says.

Moline Police will continue to investigate the girl’s unsolved disappearance “until we reach a conclusion, regardless of the time that passes,” the release says.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities at
309-762-9500 or Moline Police at 309-797-0401.

EARLIER UPDATE: The uncle of a girl who has been missing for nearly 27 years told our Local 4 News crew that an excavation Tuesday did not turn up any evidence.

“The alternative of waiting more time, more years, not knowing … I don’t want to do that,” Ray Eddleman said. “I want it to be over. And that’s what I was hoping was going to happen today and they didn’t find any. I just feel empty and let down “

Our Local 4 News crew flew a drone over a Colona home on 8th Street where investigators conducted a search related to the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.

Trudy was 11 years old when she disappeared. She was last seen in 1996.

EARLIER: In connection with the Trudy Appleby missing-person case, the Moline Police Department is executing a search warrant in the 600 block of 8th Street in Colona, according to a news release from Darren Gault, chief of police, Moline Police Department.

An excavation crew is working in the area, where a tarp has been set up. Our Local 4 News crew saw neighbors standing outside crime-scene tape that has been placed in the area.

Trudy Appleby Case
Trudy Appleby

Our Local 4 News crew saw neighbors watching while the tarp was put up and excavation continued. Multiple law-enforcement cars are on the scene, along with a K9 Unit car.

“This investigation is being done by detectives assigned to the Trudy Appleby case. Detectives are searching the property for any evidence related to her disappearance,” the release says.

The Moline Police Department executes a search warrant in the 600 block of 8th Street in Colona, Illinois, on August 8, 2023. (Jackson Rozinsky, OurQuadCities,com)

Trudy Appleby was last seen leaving her residence in Moline on Aug. 21, 1996, when she disappeared. She reportedly was seen about 9:30 a.m. with a man in his 20s in a gray box-style car similar to a Chevrolet Cavalier.

Trudy Appleby was 11 years old when she went missing. She would be 38 years old now. Trudy Appleby was last seen wearing a black one-piece swimsuit, Spandex shorts, blue tennis shoes, socks and a T-shirt. She also had a beach towel with her.

Assisting in the investigation are East Moline and Colona Police Departments; Illinois State Police; Illinois State Police Crime Scene; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Henry County State’s Attorney’s Office; and the City of Moline Public Works.

“There is nothing else to report at this time. If any additional information is developed we will update the public and the media at that time,” the release says.

“The Moline Police Department has been diligent in following every lead over the years and leaving no stone unturned in trying to find answers to her disappearance. We will continue to investigate this case until we reach a conclusion, regardless of the time that passes,” Gault says in the release.

27 years later, a candlelight vigil is set

According to a Facebook post, a candlelight vigil for Trudy Appleby will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the First Baptist Church, 167 Avenue of the Cities, East Moline. It is in the Kennedy Square Shopping Center east of Jewel-Osco. The public is welcome.

A person of interest

Earlier, Jamison Fisher, 48, of East Moline, was named as a “person of interest” in the case. As of July 13, Fisher has been incarcerated in FCI Oakdale, in Oakdale, Iowa, for parole violation, jail officials told Local 4 News on Tuesday.

The Trudy Appleby connection

Investigators earlier said they believe David Whipple of Colona and Fisher “have knowledge” of what happened to Trudy, 11 when she went missing, and that they may be involved with the case.

Jamison Fisher (Polk County Jail)

William “Ed” Smith, who was named a person of interest in 2017, is deceased. Whipple died in August 2022.

Whipple, a registered sex offender, had been convicted of sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in Rock Island County.

The history of the case

Trudy was last seen near her home in Moline. Over the years and during many vigils in her memory, her family has pleaded for answers.

On Aug. 21, 1996, Trudy Appleby was reported missing by her father, Dennis, from their home in Moline. On the days leading up to Trudy’s disappearance, she had asked her father to go spend time with a friend who resided on Campbell’s Island.

Trudy’s father did not allow her to go swimming, but phone records show she may have planned to go ahead with her swimming plans. 

In August 2017, the Moline Police Department released information that a witness observed Trudy Appleby with William “Ed” Smith in a late model silver Chevrolet four-door near Smith’s residence on Campbell’s Island on Aug. 21, 1996, and listed William “Ed” Smith as a “person of interest” in the case.

Poster in the Trudy Appleby missing-person case.

David Whipple was the son-in-law of William “Ed” Smith and Jamison Fisher is a lifelong family friend of the Smiths, police said.

In 2020, Moline Police asked the community’s assistance regarding any information about William “Ed” Smith, David Whipple, and Jamison “Jamie” Fisher, and their involvement related to the disappearance of Trudy Appleby. 

In 2020, Moline Police asked “anyone with information regarding these individuals, the events on that day and the days immediately following to come forward and help bring justice for Trudy Appleby. Please do not assume that we know what you may know. No information is insignificant.”

In January 2022, Local 4 News featured the Trudy Appleby case in our “Vanished QC” series.