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MOLINE — Police have confiscated a boat they hope may shed light on the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.

No one has seen Appleby since Aug. 21, 1996. She was 11 when she disappeared.

On Tuesday, the Moline Police Department said that in December it took a boat that may have been used to transport Appleby. Police did not elaborate about it or the information that led investigators to it.

The boat is now being analyzed by the FBI, according to Moline Police.

In August 2017, police identified William “Ed” Smith as a “person of interest” in the case. Investigators think he may have been the last person seen with Appleby. He died Dec. 23, 2014.

Police said a witness told authorities about seeing Smith the day of her disappearance. He was in a vehicle near his Campbell’s Island residence with a younger female sitting in the passenger seat.

The witness thought this girl was Appleby, police said. The witness knew her, and the vehicle passed within a couple of feet of the witness.

It was the last time Appleby was seen, police said.

Another witness reported seeing the girl earlier on Aug. 21, 1996, near her home, police have said. Appleby was getting into the passenger side of an older model, gray-colored vehicle. The witness did not know the driver.

The vehicle in the incident near Appleby’s house was similar to the one in which the other witness said Smith and Appleby were together, police said.

At the time of Appleby’s disappearance, Smith had access to a vehicle similar to the one thought related to Appleby ‘s disappearance, according to police. Investigators think the vehicle may have been scrapped shortly after Appleby went missing.

Smith frequented the river around Blackbird Island and Dynamite Island off the northern end of Campbell’s Island, police said. It is an area that can be reached only by boat.

Smith never said anything to police that indicated knowledge of Appleby’s disappearance.

In October 2017, authorities excavated the site of an old home on Campbell’s Island after receiving a tip. The home that stood there was that of a man who was interviewed in relation to the Appleby case.

The now-empty lot did not yield any definitive signs of Appleby.

in 2002, Moline Police confirmed they interviewed the man who lived in the home about Appleby’s disappearance.

At the time of her disappearance, Dennis Appleby said his daughter was good friends with the man’s daughter and visited that family often before her disappearance.

Anyone with information that could help with the Appleby case is asked to contact Moline Police at 309-524-2140 or Crime Stoppers of the Quad-Cities at 309-762-9500.

Crime Stoppers also accepts tips through its website, qccrimestoppers.com, and via the free mobile app “P3 Tips.”

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Reporter

Anthony is a reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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