Lost for 30 years

One mother got a special gift for Mother’s Day yesterday.

On Mother’s Day 1976 Laura Gooder’s estranged husband Eric Douglas Nielsen, picked up their 21 month old daughter Genevieve Rachel Nielsen for an overnight visit. And he never brought her back.

That would make Mother’s day an especially bittersweet day for Gooder, even though she later remarried and had more children. I feel certain that each Mother’s Day after that brought memories of the last day she saw her daughter.

Over the years with the normal joys and struggles with raising her children, living her life, and the normal everyday activities, I feel sure the little girl Genevieve was in her thoughts even on days other than Mother’s Day. And if it was the typical type of missing persons case there were fears and hopes. Often the fears might surface on hearing of an unidenified child being found. Possible sightings. The realization that it was Genevieve’s 18 th birthday, and the hope that she might then reach out to her mother. Her 21 st birthday came and went and still no news.

Last Thursday, detectives found located Genevieve Rachel Nielsen in Arizona. She is now 32 and has a child of her own. She was raised with a different name, and her father also had a different name. He is currently incarcerated. Genevieve was raised with the belief that her mother had died in a car accident. She was not aware of her mother searching for her, she was not even aware that she had another name. She was not aware she had other siblings.

Police are not releasing the alias that Genevieve was raised under in order to protect her. They are also not releasing her father’s alias for the same reason. What must it be like to wake one day and find your whole life was a lie? That the only parent you knew of, had given you a false life? That you were not who you thought you were? Like the rest of this story, this Mother’s Day was bittersweet. Laura Gooder now knows her daughter is safe, she has her own life and separate memories of that life.

But Genevieve was raised by one parent. And her world has been turned upside down. Her father was the only one she grew up knowing she could trust to care for her, love her and the only one she could rely on.

But then that is all destroyed by a visit from a detective telling her of a new name, and a different side to her life. Would it be any surprise that she might need time to adjust? To come to terms with the information she has been given? After all, she likely didn’t even remember a mother. She only remembers a father. And if she couldn’t trust the father- could she really trust the mother?

Laura Gooder now knows her daughter is safe. And she is hoping for contact from that daughter. But likely she realizes that Genevieve needs time. So again another Mother’s Day, remembering what happened, hoping for contact from the daughter, but wanting Genevieve to have what she needs, even if it is time.

I hope she got that phone call.



From May 15. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has arranged for a psychologist to assist Genevieve in coping with the news that her mother is still living.

Authorities may charge the father. The father has been in prison for about 7 years on a separate felonious assault charge and he is due to get out in about two weeks.


06-29-06 Eric Douglas Nielsen, 54, in court on parental kidnapping charges.


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