Two generous gestures

Paula Wheeler sat with me earlier today to talk about the disappearance and death of her daughter Chevelle “Chevy” Wheeler, 16.

This mother has been emotionally tortured beyond anything I can put into words. (For someone who makes a living based on their ability to explain, that’s saying something.)

Chevelle vanished in 1985 and her remains were recently discovered in Calaveras County.

All evidence points to her being a victim of convicted killers Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine.

 For 26 years, the family waited for the phone to ring with investigators on the other end saying Chevelle’s remains had been recovered.

Twenty-six years.

Twenty-six birthdays with no new memories to make.

Twenty-six Christmases with no gifts to exchange.

Twenty-six Thanksgivings with an empty seat at the table.

Twenty-six anniversaries of the day she went missing.

Five presidents held office during that time. The San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots all rose and fell as football dynasties over that period.

In mid-February, Chevelle Wheeler’s remains were finally recovered. The day her family was convinced never would come came. The phone rang.

Chevelle was coming home. It’s as happy an ending you can expect when a parent loses a child to violent crime.

But the Wheelers, who live in Tennessee, first needed to come to California to reclaim her remains.

Enter Paul Alamo, of Lodi-based Alamo Alarm.

Paula Wheeler said Alamo bought the family plane tickets to California. When they went to Lodi to thank him in person, Alamo and the Wheelers realized they had something in common.

 

“He’s restoring a 1968 Chevelle, and I said ‘I’ve got a ‘68 Chevelle too,” Paula Wheeler said.

 

Chevelle Wheeler was born in 1968.

 

Upon hearing that, Alamo took one of the emblems off the restored car and gave it to the Wheeler family, she said.

Wheeler said Alamo didn’t do it for attention, and I’m inclined to agree with her, but it’s a little side story that’s entirely too heartfelt not to share.

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