The holidays are a time to take stock and the simplest way is look around the table. The best present is often the presence of loved ones. The reason this time of year tends to be difficult is the conspicuous absence of those we are used to seeing in the next chair.
Friends and family of Anna Maciejewska, 43, are facing another holiday without her. She was reportedly last seen by her husband, Allen Gould, on April 10th leaving their Charlestown Township home on Hedgerow Lane which she also resides with their four-year-old son. She never made it to work at Voya Financial in West Chester.
On November 24th, a Beef and Beer Benefit Auction benefitting the search for Maciejewska and Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue was held at St. Anthony’s Lodge in Downingtown. The purpose of the event was to bring awareness back to Maciejewska, raise money for her parents in Poland to get visitation of their grandson, their travel expenses, and to raise awareness for missing persons.
“I think there was an expectation that this doesn’t happen here,” said Mark Hopkins, Chief of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue who were a part of the efforts to find Maciejewska. “This is probably going to end up being the most frustrating case I ever had. It’s exhausting because so much more could have been done. We shouldn’t be sitting here. This shouldn’t have gone on this long.”
Maciejewska communicated regularly with her retired, cancer-stricken parents in Poland. On March 27th, she spoke with her mother, Janina on the phone about coming for a surprise visit for her father, Zygmunt’s 80th birthday. She said she had a present for him.
“Anna, if you come home it’s the best present,” Janina told her.
The following day, she said she was going to delay her trip because she had things to do at work. Janina suggested visiting over Easter. Anna said they would talk about it later.
On March 29th, Anna told her mother she couldn’t fly out and she missed them. The next day, Zygmunt got a birthday text message from Anna in Polish with two mistakes. He received the text at 4:50 p.m. Polish time.
“Anna knew Polish. It is impossible for Anna to do this mistake,” said Zygmunt.
On April 1st (a Saturday), Janina called Gould and asked to speak to Anna. He said Anna would call her on Monday making her wonder “why not Sunday?”
Janina called again on Monday and says Gould told her, “I have no idea where she is. She didn’t come back.”
Janina asked if he had been to the police or checked Anna’s old house (when Anna moved to the area she bought a home in West Chester and kept it after meeting Gould and moving to Hedgerow Lane).
According to Janina, Gould said he was busy with work and the four-year-old son.
“We informed police earlier than he did,” Janina said pointing out they called the police from Warsaw on Tuesday April 11th.
On Easter, April 16th, Sharon Rouse, a coworker of Maciejewska’s went over to the home on Hedgerow Lane and was surprised to see a “feast” in what she describes as a large table filled with food.
“I thought, ‘thank God, she’s back.’ When I saw Alan I said, ‘so you found her?’” said Rouse.
Gould said no.
Rouse said she had been calling her all day and the phone was ringing. Gould said her phone on the table.
“It didn’t jibe with me. Anna would never leave her phone,” said Rouse who described her coworker as the “sweetest nicest girl ever, a loving heart.”
It was the last time Rouse was in the house or talked to Gould.
On May 8, Maciejewska’s dark-blue 2011 Audi A4 was located at the Charlestown Meadows overflow parking lot on Ashtree Drive in Malvern, near neighborhood walking trails.
A few days later, forty investigators including Embreeville Station Troopers, search dogs, and State Police Academy Cadets conducted an extensive search around the Charlestown Meadows development, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the wooded area around the walking trails.
Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue (GSPAR) joined the efforts to find Maciejewska on June 14. They searched Bodine, Seven Stars and the Turnpike area around the house on Hedgerow Lane for ten to twelve hours in total.
Pennsylvania State Police detectives and forensic units executed a search warrant at Hedgerow Lane on July 20th. Police were initially allowed in the house when Maciejewska was reported missing in April, but since then Gould, who has hired an attorney, has not voluntarily allowed entry
Ashley May, a Chesterbrook resident, did not know Anna personally. Her husband owns a landscaping business and one of his clients told him about a missing woman from the area. May started researching Maciejewska’s disappearance and found the Facebook page.
“I thought about this woman with her parents in Poland who has no one here advocating for her on a daily basis. If there were a police station there I do think things would be different,” said May. There is no police department in Charleston Township and the state police are seventeen miles away.
May was instrumental in the planning and coordination of the Beef and Beer. Rouse calls her an “angel” but May feels that Maciejewska could be anyone.
She thinks about Maciejewska’s parents and her young son. But most of all she thinks about the woman she has never met.
“Nobody should not be found. There is no help for someone whose family member goes missing unless they are an 18-year-old J.Crew model,” said May
May actively reaches out to the police and District Attorney says she has not received any updates.
“When I think about this story I almost get sick. She’s not a fighter. She would never be mean. She would cry. She couldn’t defend herself,” said Rouse.
There is only one thing Rouse wants.
“Justice,” she answers immediately. “I haven’t had a doubt in mind that he didn’t do it from the minute I walked out of that house. I feel there has to be something out there.”
Every Christmas Maciejewska went to Poland to visit her family.
“Not only did they lose their daughter they lost their grandson,” said May. “They have a small slice of hope she is alive but they have no answers. It’s heartbreaking.”
With each day closer to Christmas, the length of time Anna has been missing grows longer.
A family in Poland faces another holiday without their daughter. A room of strangers turned supporters for the missing mother searches for answers.