The call Carroll Hively had been waiting for came this morning at 7:15.
The burly truck driver had kept an anguished vigil for eight days, while police and federal agents conducted a nationwide manhunt for his kidnaped wife, Patricia. Unable to sleep at night, he was crying in the day until, in his words, he was "all cried out."
He had gone on television to plead with the kidnapers to release his wife, abducted at gunpoint during a robbery at the local pharmacy where she worked. Family members spanning four generations had gathered at the house on Harney Road. Streams of friends stopped by with words of encouragement and bowls of fried chicken, rice pudding and macaroni salad. A Lutheran pastor visited twice a day to lead prayers for Patricia Hively's safe return.
And then came the collect telephone call from a restaurant in nearby Gettysburg, Pa. Patricia Hively was calling to ask her husband to take her home.
"It's been the longest eight days of my life," said Wayne Hively, Carroll Hively's younger brother, who emerged from the family house this afternoon where Patricia Hively, 41, had been given a sedative by a doctor after an emotional reunion with her family. "Physically, she seems pretty good. Emotionally, she's in rough shape. It's tough for her to talk about."
Expressions of relief and thanksgiving spread through Taneytown, a community of 2,800 people whose five-member police force contends mostly with bar fights and domestic disputes. Serious crime is so infrequent that Police Chief Bruce W. Moore believes the armed robbery of the Taneytown Pharmacy was only the second in the 230-year history of the town.
Pharmacist Julian Friedman closed the pharmacy today, taping red crepe paper to the front door over a sign that announced: "Pat is back, safe with her family. Thank God."
And at Baumgardner's Bakery, Millie's Beauty Corner, the Sportsman's Bar and the table at Little Orbie's Restaurant where the retired folks play knock rummy, people spread the welcome news.
Hively was interviewed for more than three hours by law enforcement authorities at the Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster before she was driven home in an unmarked police car around 12:15 p.m.
Police and FBI agents continue to search for the two suspects in the robbery-kidnaping, Jimmy Edward Simpson, 39, and Olon Hill Jr., 36. The pair, whom police described as unemployed laborers from Pennsylvania, are being sought on kidnaping, robbery and other charges.
Chief Moore said both men have previous convictions for burglary, breaking and entering, and assault.
Wayne Hively said that he had been told that his sister-in-law's abductors had "either bought or stolen" a change of clothes for her, and that she had not been sexually assaulted. But most of the details of Hively's ordeal remain unknown, as does the reason she was abducted and held long after the accused men had escaped from the area.
The questions surrounding the abduction of this well-known, well-liked woman had been a daily topic of discussion in Taneytown, a community of dairy farmers and factory workers.
Patricia Hively grew up in the area, went to Taneytown High School and for 25 years had been married to her high school sweetheart. Carroll Hively, 43, the oldest of three brothers, earns his living as an independent truck driver, hauling steel up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
Patricia Hively supplemented the family's income for eight years by working at the pharmacy. "She was my right arm," said pharmacist Friedman. Her daughter Kim also worked there, until 1 p.m. every day.
On May 10, at 1:50 p.m., two men entered the store, browsed for a few minutes and then carried a bottle of Scope, a jar of Old Spice deodorant and other items up to the cash register at the front of the store.
"They looked like guys going hunting, like they were loading up with supplies," Friedman recalled.
According to police and court papers, Olon Hill pulled out a 10-inch blue steel revolver and ordered Hively to the back of the store. Police said the two men then bound Friedman's hands behind his back with 3-inch gauze and ordered him to lie face-down on the floor while they took $300 in cash and $100 worth of cocaine, Demerol and other drugs out of the pharmacy safe. Friedman heard Hively "whimpering" as the men forced her out of the store. They fled with the clerk in a brown 1978 Pinto, leaving behind the mouthwash and deodorant.
Friedman quickly freed himself and ran to the police station 300 feet away. Police were able to identify the two suspects, thanks to fingerprints on the mouthwash bottle and deodorant jar. Maryland authorities were also notified by Pennsylvania State Police that nearly five hours before the kidnaping, a .22-caliber, long barrel revolver and a brown Pinto had been taken from Jennifer Jo Ward, who was identified as Hill's common-law wife, and who cooperated with authorities.
While authorities hunted for the men, Carroll Hively's fellow truck drivers in Baltimore distributed wanted posters.
And at the pink-and-yellow frame house on Harney Road, four miles from Taneytown, the agonizing wait began, haunted by reminders of Patricia Hively's presence--photographs, her jigsaw puzzles, a large Mother's Day card inscribed "To my wife, with love . . . " The family was glued to the television newscasts. Another telephone was installed. Carroll Hively, a dazed expression in his brown eyes, turned the events over in his mind, searching for explanations.
In an interview on Monday, he said: "They left her pocketbook and coat. They just grabbed her. Nothing like this has ever happened to us. Pat is not a tough lady. She's shy and nervous. She always liked having somebody around.
"I go outside, look up the road, look down the road, and come back in. I know she's alive. I got that faith. The longest we've ever been separated was two weeks. The only thing that keeps me going is the people who have called or stopped by."
Most of the visitors that day expressed the sentiment of Cathy Jenkins, who runs a florist shop: "It's so hard to believe anybody would steal from Jules the pharmacist and take Pat on top of it. I can't grasp that."
The Rev. Alan Traher stopped by for the second time on Monday afternoon and led a prayer. Carroll Hively, his brothers, mother and two daughters joined hands and bowed their heads as the minister said, "O Lord, we pray Pat be provided for and that she be returned safely to her family."
Two days later, those prayers were answered.