Marble Arvidson, 17, with a family member at a party last year celebrating his grandmother’s 90th birthday. Marble was last seen Aug. 27, before rainfall from Hurricane Irene created massive flooding in the region. Marble’s family believes that he left his house with an unidentified man.
Marble Arvidson is 165 pounds and 6 ft. 2 in. tall. He has blond, shoulder-length hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. If you have heard or seen anything that could help identify the unknown individual Marble was seen with, or any other information at all, please do not hesitate to contact the family’s Operation Find Marble number, (802) 490-2003, or the Brattleboro Police, at 802-257-7946. Even the tiniest piece of information is important, police say. Anonymous tips are welcomed.
Originally published in The Commons issue #117 (Wednesday, September 7, 2011).
BRATTLEBORO—“Base operations,” answers Trish Kittredge as she participates in her fifth telephone conversation in less than 14 minutes.
Kittredge is organizing the search for her missing nephew, 17-year-old Marble Arvidson, a senior at Brattleboro Union High School.
Marble was last seen as he left his home in West Brattleboro on Aug. 27, the day before Hurricane Irene rocked the area with heavy rain and flash flooding.
In charge, yet calm, Kittredge, a command sergeant major for the Army National Guard in Massachusetts, had been called into active duty because of Hurricane Irene.
When her nephew went missing, she was given leave to organize his search.
The table under the information tent, set up in the parking lot of the Chelsea Royal Diner, is organized and ready for anything.
A pile of orange vests sit in a big box on the ground. A banquet-sized table holds maps full of grids, yellow sticky notes marking areas that have been searched.
A volunteer sign-up sheet is ready on a clipboard. Kittridge’s open Volvo station wagon is loaded with posters. People wander over to the desk, ask questions, take posters, dispense hugs, and offer somber well wishes.
A passerby asks Kittredge for something to do, and within minutes is given tacks, bright yellow “Missing” posters, and assigned an area where the rain has ruined the poster that is already hung.
The volunteer will substitute the dry poster and hand out informational postcards to anyone who asks.
“Marble is very dear to us,” say his aunts Jane Arvidson and Joanne McGowan, finishing each other’s sentences as they describe the youth.
“None of us believe he is a runaway. Anyone who knows him would know that,” McGowan says.
“There is no way that he would not have made contact with someone close to him as he has a large family, supportive adults in his life and lots of friends,” Arvidson says, describing her nephew as “a connected kid.”
Describing him as “forthcoming” and “a very open person,” Marble’s aunts say that checking in was always a part of their nephew’s behavior.
“He has always been forthcoming and is a very open person,” McGowan says.
“All I can think about is the last time I hugged him,” says Larry Beaudoin, of Greenfield, Marble’s grandfather.
“We are close, and as he was becoming a man, I have a role in his life as a mentor. He’s a great kid, and I am just torn up inside,” Beaudoin says.
“I’m so full of emotion,” he adds as he dabs at tears. “This search is draining and emotional. We all want him back.”
“The challenge is that there is no intelligent information about where he would be,” says Kittredge as she looks down at her maps.
“We’re doing cursory searches, so we are looking at the path of least resistance,” she says. “We don’t have any information about where he likely walked off to, so we are checking roads and logging trails alongside the river.”
The first couple of days, Marble’s family and friends focused on getting the word out that he’d gone missing.
“As that didn’t happen,” Kittredge says, “we couldn’t just sit here and do nothing, so we started searching, looking along trails he might have walked along.”
All that they know for certain is that Marble Arvidson was at his home on the afternoon of Aug. 27.
One of the four members of the household saw Marble in the afternoon. During that time another one heard someone knock at the door and heard Marble converse with a man whose voice was not recognized.
Marble left a note that he was going out and indicated that he would be back in about 20 minutes. He marked it with the time — 2:17 p.m.
Marble never returned.
“We don’t know if he left in a car, went walking — nobody knows but the person who knocked on the door, and we haven’t been able to identify who that person is,” Kittredge said.
“Unless they come forward, we have no other information. The big push is to find out who came to the house. They were the last person who saw Marble,” she said.
Marble’s family believes that he left dressed in black and wearing a black bowler hat of which he is fond. They assume that he left the house wearing boots.
Kittredge staffs the information booth and her telephone. During the evening, her other sisters take over phone duties.
What keeps her going?
“My sister’s son is missing,” she says sadly. “This is what needs to be done.”
Nichole Fisher, 19, of Halifax, a friend of Marble’s, walks up to the tent with her mother, Tina, and sister, Traelor, 10.
Kittredge is busy with other volunteers, so Beaudoin begins by briefing the group.
Worried about kids getting hurt in the woods on slippery leaves along high rivers and brooks, Beaudoin suggests that they might like to staff a booth at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, where anyone can come up to the table and write any information on an anonymous note and place it in a box.
“He’s a really nice guy, always helping everybody,” Fisher says. “His friends love him; he always gets good grades. I brought my mother and sister along; we’d like to help find him.”
Many people who come to the booth comment about the unfortunate timing that Marble went missing just prior to Hurricane Irene, whose wreckage has dominated headlines, they say at the expense of coverage of the youth’s disappearance.
“Human life is worth more than mud, and I’ve got kids,” Tina Fisher says, noting the number of volunteers cleaning up around town after the hurricane. “If one of mine went missing, I’d want someone out there looking for them.”
She grabs more posters.
A truck with all terrain vehicles (ATVs) pulls into the parking lot. Deana Des Reusseau of Greenfield, Mass., and Bruce Williams of Erving, Mass., have been out riding up Route 9 for the past couple of hours searching for Marble.
“John McKay let us look all through his car lot. He welcomed us and told us that anything he could do to help he’d be willing to do,” Williams says.
“We drove all through his lots out into the woods looking for any signs of kids being around there or car doors that might have been opened recently,” he adds. “Then we drove out through his property and up to an old gravel bank.”
“These aren’t places that are easy to get to on foot, but we didn’t find anything,” he says sadly, shaking his head.
“We’ve been searching all the four-wheel trails and off the beaten path where he may or may not have gone,” Des Reuisseau adds. “I don’t know him, but I wanted to help and thought I’d give it a whirl. Having children of our own, well, we feel compelled to do it.”
Britne Stark meets Des Reuisseau and Williams for the first time at the information booth and joins them on their ride.
Britne, who knows Marble and is in his class at BUHS, describes Marble as someone who “knows a lot of people, but he’s only friends with just a few.”
But, she says, “He would do just about anything for anybody. He always gives up his seat on the bus if someone doesn’t have one.”
“He likes to tell stories, and he often talks about his family. If he knows you, he will always talk to you,” she says.
“I am just hoping that he’s still alive. I’d hate to go to another funeral.”
She starts to tear up and brushes aside the drops on her face.
“If he could, he’d have called somebody by now,” Britne says.
As the volunteers disperse, a Brattleboro Police cruiser arrives at the parking lot, and Kittredge gets inside to speak with the officer privately.
About 12 to 15 people have come out to look for Marble since day three of the search. It is now day nine, and no new leads have come in.
Marble had a date with his girlfriend at 4 p.m. on the very day he went missing, Beaudoin says.
“What young man who is looking forward to a date with his girlfriend on a Saturday afternoon doesn’t come back to see her?” asks his grandfather.
“Besides,” he says, “Marble has support. He has lots and lots of family with whom he is in regular contact. He has the school system, and he was looking forward to his senior year; even had plans to go to college. He has a Big Brother of whom he is very fond.”
“This just doesn’t make sense to me,” he says, shaking his head. He turns away.
In the middle of the afternoon, Sigrid Arvidson, Marble’s mother, comes to the information booth after looking for her son all morning in other parts of town.
Arvidson wants to thank everyone for their prayers and their help in finding her son.
“We want him back,” she says, tears pouring down both cheeks.
“Marble, if you see this, we remember you, we know you want to be found. We feel your absence every hour,” she says.
“Come home to us.”
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