DICKINSON, N.D. — When Alice Crawford left her home in Dickinson without telling anyone of her whereabouts back in August, her mother did what any mother would do — never lose hope. After months of tireless searching, she found her daughter and brought her home.
“She has a drug addiction and she called me and told me she was going to leave and I was working to try to get her into a rehab at the time,” Jill Rosenow, mother of Alice Crawford, said. “The Dickinson police were involved and they said that there was nothing they could do because she was an adult. It was heartbreaking.”
Rosenow said her daughter had a history of battling drug addiction when she ran away to Colorado. That was the last she heard from her daughter, until Rosenow's niece mentioned that Crawford was recently featured in a news feature in Denver about area homelessness.
"In the interview, Alice said she had given her coat away to somebody else, so she didn't have a coat and it was cold,” Rosenow said. “I knew it was her because Alice is such a sweet girl at heart and if a friend was suffering she would give everything she had to help."
Rosenow continued, "The feature said she was living behind a dumpster, and it was really hard to hear that."
Immediately the entire family rallied with Rosenow to find her daughter and within hours, Rosenow had contacted the journalist who wrote the story and purchased a one-way ticket to Denver.
“I wasn't leaving until I found my daughter,” she said. “For days, my family and I scoured the streets, alleys and underpasses. We talked to hundreds of people and showed them Alice’s picture.”
When all hope seemed lost, a chance stop by Rosenow's stepsister to use the restroom at a train station resulted in the family finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
"My stepsister walked into the restroom and at the very end of the restroom in the last stall were feet. Then they heard what they thought was her voice. ... They waited until finally Alice walked out,” Rosenow said. "When I arrived, Alice melted into my arms and we both cried and I hugged her and I just said I love you,” Rosenow said. “I told her, don't you ever do this to me again, and she said she wanted to go to rehab.”
Worried that a return to Dickinson, where Crawford would have easy access to drugs, would result in another binge and hamper any hopes at rehabilitation, Rosenow sent her daughter to Washington state with her grandmother.
“If it wasn't for the reporter who wrote that article, I don't know if she's alive. She was very sick,” Rosenow said. “It's just so relieving to have her here. I try to be a mama bear and be tough. . . but once I knew that we had accomplished the mission, it was all waterworks.”
Rosenow said that while in Denver she spent days combing the streets and encountered many homeless people.
"Everyone always says not to look them in the eyes, because then they'll bother you," Rosenow said. "Being there and having these people be the first to reach out with any assistance they could offer, it was real. These people are human. It can happen to any of us, whether it be mental illness, drug addiction or a run of bad luck, we are no better than them because we have a roof over our head and food in our stomachs."
Over and over again, Rosenow encountered homeless people eager to help.
"The one thing I heard most was that she was so lucky to have family out looking for her that really cared," Rosenow said. "They would say that they wished someone was out there looking for them. Because I found my Alice everyone thinks this is a happy ending, but I would hope that they realize that there are still people out there sleeping in tents and under bridges. I want this story to inspire others to help those people, because they have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters too. ... We're all human."