The Unusual Disappearance Of Rosemary Gullet

Sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing. Losing a loved one to an illness prolongs suffering, while a tragic accident yields a different kind of shock. But having no insight into the fate of a loved one, and waiting night after night without any sense of resolution or ability to move forward: that's a different kind of pain altogether.

Such is the case for parents of runaways. According to Troubled Teen Help, approximately one in seven teenagers will become runaways over the course of their lives. About two-thirds of them, per the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will vanish between ages 15-17. The reasons for a child running away are of course vast and complex, and even definitions of what constitutes a "runaway episode" are complicated and differ, depending on age. Invariably and minimally, though, they involve voluntarily staying away from home, not informing their parent or guardian, and remaining away overnight. 

Abuse — sexual and physical — often plays a factor, as well as the potential for homelessness. The National Runaway Safeline reports that 34 percent of runaways (girls and boys) report sexual abuse before leaving home, and 43 percent report physical abuse. Once on the street, ironically, endangerment increases, as well as risk of childhood trafficking.

It's completely understandable, then, why Maureen Gullet of Portland, Oregon, might have been able to cope for an afternoon when her daughter Rosemary went missing, but after six months, Maureen was at a breaking point.

A mother's worst nightmare

On the night of June 21, 2015, 14-year-old Rosemary Gullet went missing from her bedroom, as described in Boredom Therapy. When her mother, Maureen, came across Rosemary's empty room the following morning, she thought it was a typical rebellious blip. By all accounts, the relationship between Rosemary and Maureen wasn't perfect, but it was soon obvious that something was very wrong. After a couple of days, Maureen filed a missing person's report, and missing child bios of Rosemary started circulating on social media. Friends reported actually seeing Rosemary out and about, but she avoided them completely. 

A major breakthrough came after nearly six months, when Maureen found pictures of Rosemary posted on Rosemary's Facebook timeline from mere days before. Rosemary's hair was dyed a different color, and she was in an unknown house posing for a selfie in front of a mirror. Maureen took to Facebook with the new info, and an anonymous tip eventually led to Rosemary's discovery. The details surrounding her disappearance and time away from home are not fully known.

In 2019, however, Rosemary wrote an articulate, wistful piece published by the education-focused, non-profit organization Hetchinger Report. Rosemary, who has since started attending Portland Community College, talked about the shame she felt as a child, sitting in the lunchroom and being unable to afford food. She talked about the difficulties navigating the foster care system, and about how difficult is was to simply develop the sense that she deserved something like clean water.