It’s been nearly half a year since the Messer family discovered what turned out to be the remains of Lynn Messer on their family farm near Bloomsdale.
After years of searching for answers as to where their mother was, the Messers found some closure in November with a startling discovery: a human skull and bones on the family’s 250-acre farm. Authorities were able to determine that the remains belonged to Lynn, who had been missing since July 8, 2014.
But while the discovery did answer the question of where she went, the unanswered questions continue to dig deeper upon the minds of her family and friends. How did she end up in that spot on their farm? What happened? How did she die? What led to her disappearance?
Authorities have been grappling with these questions for nearly three years now, but it seems that the only answers left to be found will come from forensics.
The family still holds hope that more answers might still be out there, a hope that led the family to agree to tell their story on a television show airing soon.
The story of Lynn Messer’s disappearance and the search efforts that followed is to be featured in the new season of “Disappeared” on the Investigation Discovery Channel. The show focuses on the stories of missing persons.
Family members agreed to take part in the filming of the show, in hopes that it might help get more answers. Producers interviewed several family members and two deputies with the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office for the show.
Both of Lynn’s sons, Abram and Aarron, were interviewed for hours for the show. Their hope is that someone watching might have a missing clue, some knowledge that they did not… the final piece to the puzzle.
Abram says that after much consideration and discussion, everyone had agreed that allowing the show to do the story was worth it, if just for the small chance that it might bring in new information.
“We realized that this was an incredible opportunity to reach out in a fantastic way and remind people that we were still looking, and still searching and that there are so many unanswered questions,” Abram said. “We still need your help. That’s why we decided to do the show.”
Kerry Messer, however, did not want to take part. Lynn’s husband stood against the show coming in, arguing that his family’s trials were not for people’s entertainment purposes. According to Abram, Kerry refused to let the crew on the property, putting a lock on the gate and telling his son Aarron he would evict him if he let them in.
Abram says that he believes his father did not cooperate because he would lose control of the narrative, and have to trust the media to report the facts.
Just days after the crew interviewed the family, Aarron and his daughters found the skull while scouting the farm before deer season.
In a Facebook post, Kerry continued his argument against the airing of the episode, named American Gothic, writing about how the media was dishonest with their intentions, taking their tragedy and using it for ratings and money. Kerry goes on to say that since the time of Lynn’s disappearance, he has lost family and friends.
“The fact is, on the night of July 7th, 2014, I lost my bride. Almost a year later, I lost my entire in-law family to scathing false rumors deliberately created to cause more pain and stress,” Kerry wrote. “Another year later and I lost the rest of my family to an avalanche of imaginative accusations. Sadly, much of the garbage seems to be very deliberately designed to drive wedges and divide already hurting hearts.”
The tension between Kerry and his family has been growing steadily since Lynn’s disappearance, and truly culminated when Abram called on his father to “tell the truth.” Abram has called his father the main suspect in his mother’s disappearance and has cited several points as evidence, including what he calls his father’s changing story, a hidden romantic relationship with a different woman following Lynn’s disappearance and his writing of a fake suicide note.
“As heartsick as it makes me, my father has been lying since Day One,” Abram said. “He had opportunity after opportunity to tell the truth, and all he’s done is dig himself further.”
It all came to an abrupt end when Kerry fired Abram from their work with the Missouri Family Network. Abram and his family moved from their home and now have a protection order against Kerry. Many have argued that Abram has been attacking his father, but Abram spoke to those concerns.
“We are not going to stop seeking the truth or stop seeking justice. What’s going on here is not a personal vendetta. All of the stuff that I’ve been in the media, being very open and upfront about, those are not things I have taken lightly,” Abram said. “I don’t hate my father, and I’m not out for vengeance because vengeance belongs to God. All I have wanted from day one is the truth.”
But the events leading up to the discovery of Lynn’s remains almost seemed intertwined with the show taping. Lynn was found before production crews had gotten on their flights to leave the state.
It’s been a question in the back of many people’s minds, including Abram’s. He admits that he finds the timing of the production crew’s visit and the locating of Lynn’s remains to be somewhat suspect.
“The timing of all of this, with my mother being found and the taping of the show, it raises just as many questions as everything else that has been going on in this investigation,” Abram said. “It has simply served to raise more questions. It certainly has not helped to make anyone think or feel that maybe he really is innocent.”
Kerry, however, argues that the television crew doesn’t have all of the facts and is rushing it to air, despite an ongoing investigation and the lack of forensic results.
“Immediately after directing all their scenes and filming all the raw footage somewhere in the St. Louis area, Ma’s remains were discovered. But they are a New York filming company on a production schedule. They did all their filming on or about the last week of October of last year. Remains were discovered on November 1st. It is now mid-March, four and a half months later and four and a half months closer to pathology and forensics reports,” Kerry wrote on Facebook. “But they are still on an entertainment production schedule and cannot wait to release their concocted show without any of the critical details or facts that everyone else is waiting for. They have now announced the completed show will air in one week. Their entertainment schedule does not allow them to wait a few more days for actual investigative details. They know their storyline is not true. And they do NOT care.”
Abram says that the producers of the show have been constantly in contact to make sure any updates can be included as the work on the episoe progressed, and remain in contact.
But the results of the forensics could be a long time coming. While the case is not closed, the forensic departments have backlogs of other cases, put on the backburner as other cases come along with deadlines.
Abram says that has turned everything into simply a waiting game, but a different kind of wait than what they had experienced prior to finding her remains.
“It’s been different, very different. Up until we found her on November 1st, it was all about waiting. But there was something we could do. We could still work and plan on searching. It was something that we could do, and even when we didn’t find anything, we at least would know where she wasn’t,” he said. “Now, we’re back to waiting, except it’s different. Now, there’s nothing that we can do. We’re still communicating with the Sheriff’s Department routinely, and they’ve been keeping us in the loop as things go along, but nothing substantial as of yet. All of the testing is all still out.”
Abram says one thing they have had to remember is that this is their reality, not a TV show. A forensic team doesn’t have the answers back in 24 hours or condensed into a half-hour TV show. They take solace in knowing that maybe some other family is getting the closure they need.
“Our prayer is that God will use this program to touch the hearts and minds of people, to use our nightmare to help someone else who is going through something similar, and remind them that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it,” Abram said.
None of the family members have been allowed to preview the episode, meaning they don’t know how they will be portrayed, or what direction the narrative will take.
Abram says he hopes that the production crew captures their story, and portray his mother as the woman he remembers: a beautiful, selfless, and kind woman who was always willing to do anything for anyone.
And if the episode can lead to even one more detail, Abram and the family believe it’s worth it.
“When you go through a traumatic experience at this level, one that engages an entire community, that’s very humbling, to realize that there are that many people who care,” Abram said. “When you can access that level of humanity, that transcends our faith practices, the differences in color of our skin, or the different walks of life. Being able to share that with total strangers is such a blessing.”
The episode will air on Sunday, March 26 at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery, and anyone with new information is asked to contact Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office at (573) 883-5820.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.