'Lost Mom' remembered

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Family, friends hold prayer service for missing mother

By Stevie Lowery

Eight-year-old Austin Tingle busily hands out candles as people walk into Gravel Switch Baptist Church Sunday evening.


They are all there for one purpose, to pray for Austin's mother, Kara Tingle Rigdon, 28, who has been missing since July 17, 2010.

Entering the church, there's a table full of photos, homemade cards and other mementos that Austin has made for his mother, including a Mother's Day card on bright yellow construction paper. Sitting beside it is a book, written by Austin, entitled, "The Lost Mom."

In between greeting people at the door and handing out candles, Austin steps outside to be interviewed by a news crew from WKYT-TV in Lexington.

"We're gonna pray for Jesus to get momma home safe," Austin said to the reporter.

Dressed in purple, one of his mother's favorite colors, Austin smiles nervously into the camera as he sings "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," a song his mother used to sing to him every night before bed. In the background stands Sheila Tingle, his grandmother and Kara's mother, also dressed in purple as she proudly watches Austin as he sings. During the last year, she has been the one to sing to Austin before he goes to sleep at night or when he gets sad or scared. It gives him comfort, she said.

"Kara was the star of Austin's life," Tingle said.

Where Kara is or what has happened to her is still a mystery, and according to Gerald Hegwood, pastor of Gravel Switch Baptist Church, Kara's family and friends must turn their doubts and fears over to God.

"Hopefully, something will come out of this some way, some how," he said to the congregation gathered inside the church. "We don't see it now. We just need to turn it over to God."

Pastor Hegwood said during the past year, he and Kara's son, Austin, have become "great friends."

"We meet every Sunday morning down here at this altar and pray for his mom to come home," he said. "Folks, if that don't tear your heart out, you don't have a heart."

Tingle said her family's faith in God is what has helped them get through the last year, and she asked the congregation to continue praying for her family.

"During the past year, the most frequently asked question I've been asked is, 'How do you keep going?' The answer is God," she said. "He has carried me, He has carried my family and He's carried these children through everything ... Yes, we do get frustrated. Yes, we do get angry. Yes, we do get impatient and wonder when it's going to be time to know what's happened to her ... We have to wait for that answer."

Tingle said she and her family have to fight battles everyday, and that they know they must stand firm and keep going in order to find Kara.

"Kara has two children that need her desperately," Tingle said. "We're never going to give up looking for Kara ... Eventually, we will come to know what happened to our daughter."

Tingle asked the congregation to pray for Kara's safe return or for information that could lead to finding her.

"If she's looking down from above, then I pray that whoever knows anything will come out and tell the police," she said. "I pray that there is no peace until they do so."

Tingle asked for prayers for her entire family to give them the strength to accept the outcome. She also gave a word of caution to the congregation.

"Don't ever think that this cannot happen to you," she said, "because it can."

At the end of the special prayer service, the entire congregation joined in a circle, lit their candles and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

As everyone blew out their candles, Pastor Hegwood gave a final prayer:

"Father, I pray that someway, somehow, you would honor our prayers ... and, Lord, you would bring closure one way or the other so this family could find peace in mind and heart ... Father, we are selfish, really. We want Kara to come home and want her to be safe. But, Father, we know you know the outcome. So, we pray as we entrust her and this family in your hands... In Jesus' name, amen." 


Help find Kara

Kara, 28, was last seen on Saturday, July 17, 2010, on Beechfork Loop Road in Gravel Switch. She went up the road to check her cell phone messages and called home to say that she was meeting a friend and would be back in a couple of hours. She has not returned. She was driving a family member's car that was found two days later on the Bluegrass Parkway.

Kara is five feet, four inches tall and weighs approximately 160 pounds. She has green eyes and brown hair with blond highlights. She was last seen wearing a white spaghetti strap shirt with black dots, dark blue jeans and black-heeled sandals. She was wearing a cross necklace with two baby rings and diamond post earrings. Rigdon also has a scar on the bridge of her nose. She has multiple tattoos - stars and the moon on the right side of her neck, a Harley-Davidson tattoo on her left ring finger and a West Coast Choppers cross on her right ankle.

If anyone has any information about Kara, please call the Kentucky State Police at 1 (800) 222-5555. Detective Jamie Richard of the Kentucky State Police is in charge of the investigation. Tips can be made anonymously.

You can also call the Texas EquuSearch Team toll free at 1 (877) 270-9500 or (281) 309-9500 if you have any information.


Reward fund

 The family and friends of Kara's parents, Dale and Sheila Tingle, established a reward fund for information leading to Kara's whereabouts. The reward is up to $4,000 now. The account is at Peoples Bank in Lebanon and donations are still being accepted to add to the reward. If anyone in the community would like to donate money to the reward fund, please make your check payable to the Kara Tingle Rigdon Reward Fund, P.O. Box 5, Lebanon, Kentucky 40033. You may also drop your donation off at any Peoples Bank location. Any amount of donation would be greatly appreciated.