- "It doesn't even feel like she's gone. It feels like this is just another game she's playing. And she never tries to win. She just tries to make everyone else lose."
"Missing Person," which ran for three and a half months, concerns the mystery of Cyndi's kidnapping, while revealing much about the motivations and values of several cast members, and the relationships between them. While maintaining the overall realistic setting of the comic, the storyline also experiments with genre fiction beyond Teen Drama.
This first chapter takes the form of an early Saturday morning report by FBI agent Pat McBell, who heads the team investigating Cyndi's disappearance. (The FBI is involved because Cyndi's father Carl knows the mayor.) McBell pieces together the known facts: Cyndi, last reported seen on Friday afternoon, went missing sometime between then and an hour later, when Aggie and Lisa, at lacrosse practice, discovered swerving tire tracks on the lawn where her car had been, suggesting an unfamiliarity with the vehicle, an expensive, collectible Porsche. He deduces from this, and the bloodstains he found on the grass, that Cyndi wasn't the driver.
Cyndi's boyfriend Braz calls her parents when she fails to show up that evening at her friend Meg's party. They in turn contact the police who, using the car's recovery antenna, find the vehicle abandoned in an alley some distance away from the school, as well as a bloodied lacrosse stick. From this evidence, plus the lack of a ransom demand, McBell theorizes that the kidnapping was a crime of passion by a peer. The Kristoffers surrender her laptop to the investigators, who mine her Facebook, Twitter and e-mail history for potential suspects. Aggie also gives an extensive account of Cyndi's misdeeds. From all these sources, it appears the suspect list is large indeed. McBell observes that Cyndi has a pattern of making online and offline friends and then quickly replacing them with others; however, he notices that Meg is the closest she has to an ongoing, in-person friend, and so talks to her first. This leads from the agent's narration to the "interviews" portion of the chapter.
Meg, mildly concerned about her friend's safety, doesn't provide any leads, but does reveal more about her personality, in that neither she nor Cyndi have any use for "touchy-feely" friendships. She also dismisses the notion that Cyndi considered the class presidency all that important, nor even the high school stage of life itself, the latter apparently because Meg herself claims not to. Next is the anxious Braz, who admits to having menaced Jack, in order to scare Stan out of running against Cyndi. When the agent says he'll need to speak with Jack, Braz insists in a panic that he "was just waving [the lacrosse stick] around ironically."
Jack, who has a history of trouble with the police but no charges, acts arrogantly under interrogation, but provides the alibi that during the hour Cyndi disappeared, he was consoling Stan after Cyndi helped ruin his relationship with Brandi. Katy-Ann, under pressure to finger her boyfriend given his record, insists that he couldn't have been the perpetrator. But when McBell points out he wasn't very concerned about her vanishing, she recalls his claim, after repelling Braz's assault, that he'll "do what it takes" to protect his loved ones. She suggests Braz as a suspect, and then, when informed he was the one who reported her missing, reluctantly suggests Charlotte.
Charlotte declines to answer questions about the rape slander video and attempted bomb-threat frameup, without a lawyer. Nevertheless, the agent points out she has a history of threatening behaviour, including recently having tried to attack Tharqa. She admits to getting angry and to having justified attacking those she resented, but says she couldn't justify kidnapping or killing Cyndi, because she'd go to Hell. She also claims an alibi in that she was talking to Duane at the time. Duane corroborates this alibi and, while he's there, asks if the police can do anything about the physical abuse she appears to receive from her mother. McBell suggests they could, if she agrees to testify; otherwise, Charlotte will have to wait until she's eighteen and legally independent of her mother to be free of her.
After questioning several more suspects, who are seen in briefer snippets (including Brandi, who acts nervous and guilty), McBell interviews Penny, who surprises him by claiming Cyndi's motives are unreadable, and adds she suspects she may not really be missing (see page quote). Last, Aggie, having managed to avoid divulging it as long as she could, finally gives in under pressure and tells the agent about Brandi's assault of Xena back in December.
Returning to McBell's narration, the arc reveals that, as dawn breaks, Braz and Brandi will be held for further questioning, due to their guilty behaviour and past history of violence, while Stan, Jack and Charlotte will be under covert surveillance at home, due to their suspiciously calm attitude. He's also added, to the suspect list, Michelle, owing to Cyndi's role in her eating disorder, as well as Xena and Samantha, because of their "irrational" personalities. McBell, disagreeing with Penny's take on Cyndi, remains confident his team will crack the case.
- Abusive Parents: Discussed by Duane, with regard to Charlotte.
- All Elections Are Serious Business: Discussed by Meg, who rejects this idea.
- Ascended Meme: When McBell asks Lynda if his team can check her browser history, as she claims to have been working at home at the time of Cyndi's abduction, she blushes, grins sheepishly and says "If...if you promise confidentiality." Given that certain fans have long been vocal about their Perverse Sexual Lust for Lynda, leading to an ongoing forum meme jokingly suggesting she gets up to kinky activities when Rob's not around...well, draw your own conclusion.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible
- Rob, indignant at being asked about his whereabouts at the time of Cyndi's disappearance, at first doesn't answer the question. ("Are you $#!#ing me?") When pressed, he calls McBell an "ass", states that he was at work and says his office will vouch for him. Then Rob takes out on him his anger over the police failing to do anything when his daughter went missing the previous year. Fortunately for Rob, McBell is a Reasonable Authority Figure who simply lets him vent while silently corroborating Rob's guess that Cyndi's dad knows the mayor.
- Inverted with Aggie who, apart from holding out on mentioning Brandi as long as she can, couldn't be more helpful to the investigation. This, along with her stated lifelong pacifism, wins her a spot at the "very bottom" of the suspect list. (The reason Aggie, despite what one would guess from her progressive activism, is this forthcoming with the police is revealed in the next chapter.)
- Big Secret: Aggie resists telling the FBI about Brandi's assault on Xena, and the role she and her friends played in covering it up, but finally caves.
- Daddy's Girl: Cyndi. Her father Carl, when McBell questions him about the phone calls and e-mails they'd received about her misdeeds, dismisses them as "harassment" and continues to insist on her innocence. (He also spoils her by lending her a collectible Porsche for driving to school.) McBell notices that her mother Trisha is much less adamant about her daughter's good name.
- Decade-Themed Party: Meg throws a fifties-themed party, at which Cyndi is conspicuously absent, at least to Braz.
- The Ditz: Bob.McBell: Humiliating diarrhea gives you the motive...
Bob (grinning vacantly): Popsicles gave me the craps, not Cyndi! Cyndi's not a popsicle. 'Cept in my dreams. And what's a motive?
- Dumb Jock: Braz.
- Everyone Is a Suspect: Cyndi has that many enemies.
- The Faceless: For most of the chapter, either McBell, as the narrator, is shown in silhouette or with face partially obscured, or else the scene is shown from his perspective, while he speaks from off-panel. However, towards the end of the chapter his face appears in either full or partial profile, and the final panel shows his face from the front.
- I Can Explain / Saying Too Much: Braz, in a panic, admits to the police that he'd threatened Jack with a lacrosse stick.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Played with. Meg claims that high school politics, and the high school years in general, are of little consequence in the long run. However, she then asks whether the interrogation will be going on her permanent record.
- Miranda Rights: Charlotte is the only character to invoke her right not to answer questions without an attorney.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: This chapter is in the form of a Police Procedural.
- Red Herring: Campbell, after the conclusion of "Missing Person," admitted on the forum that the stain on Braz's hand was this.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Lisa, the comic's resident jester, makes a two-panel, silent appearance early in this chapter, and then is nowhere to be seen through the rest of "Missing Person," the darkest Penny and Aggie arc.