Husband of missing Bernie woman continues search

By CJ Cassidy - bio | email

STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The search continues for a local woman who crashed into a flooded ditch on Christmas Eve.

Shirley Stratton's family says despite all the odds against them, they are hanging on to hope they find their loved one.

"I was very lucky to find her," Shirley's husband John, said in a voice that lacks energy.  It's not hard to figure out why he's tired.

John's spent countless hours trying to find Shirley after her vehicle hydro-planed and ended up in the ditch off Route U in Stoddard County.

The 39 year old came to the U.S. from the Philippines after the couple got married in 2004.  She was hoping to get her U.S. citizenship this year.

Since her disappearance, John's braved freezing temperatures and waded through icy waters but he says the physical pain is nothing compared to his mental agony.

"It's also painful not knowing. I just... I won't be able to rest until I find her."

A Poplar Bluff company offered up their back-hoe so John and his son, Quincy Stratton, could keep on looking.

"We're trying to dam up the back flow of the river, and pump out the remaining water in the ditch so we can search it thoroughly," Quincy explained.

Standing at the edge of the bank, John watched the dam slowly begin to take shape.

He says he's been on an emotional roller coaster ever since he heard about two men trying to rescue his wife without any luck.

"At some point they had gotten a hold of her, tried to pull her out, foot or leg hung up, and couldn't get her loose," he said.

Back at the Stratton home, life has been put on hold.

John says he hasn't even thought about taking down the Christmas tree with unwrapped gifts for Shirley still sitting underneath.  One present is addressed to "Mom" from her three young sons.

"It's not the same without her being here... I wish she'd walk back through the door you know," he said.

John says he has not been to work since Shirley disappeared, and he plans on looking for her as long as he can.

There is a fundraiser planned for Friday the 22nd at the Bernie Armory to help raise money and keep the search going strong.

Organizers say visitors can expect chili, dessert and live music. They say the ticket price for adults will be $5 and children 13 and under, can come in free. It all kicks off at 6 p.m.

Copyright 2010 KFVS. All rights reserved.