After all this time? Always.
Time Line: January 16, 1973
7:00 a.m. Anna's Stepdad, a carpenter, left for work.
7:30 a.m. Anna and her brothers board the school bus.
7:45 a.m. Anna's Mom feeds the chickens and animals.
10:00 a.m. Hulk the rooster attacks a horsewoman; she is hysterical and Anna's Mom brings her to the house.
11:00 a.m. Two friends with a baby arrive from San Francisco for a visit with Anna's Mom.
12:00 noon Anna's Stepdad returns home, his construction job shut down because of rain.
12:20 p.m. Anna returns home on the school bus.
12:40 p.m. Anna puts on her rubber boots and red coat, then goes outside to play in the yard.
1:30 p.m. A ranch resident (who is also a family friend) comes in the back door to visit.
2:00 p.m. Anna's Mom hears Anna in the porch/bedroom, talking (possibly to the cats).
2:10 p.m. A carpenter friend of Anna's Stepdad arrives for a visit. He saw Anna at the front of the house, greeted her and came in. (As he came up Purisima Road to the ranch, he stopped and got out of his truck to pet some horses. The only thing out of the ordinary that he noticed was a panel truck going the other way with two people inside, a youngish driver and an older passenger, who waved and seemed overly friendly.)
2:15-2:20 p.m. Anna's Mom, no longer hearing Anna-sounds, becomes alarmed. She had been monitoring the sounds, as mothers do — Anna talking, the back door opening and closing, Anna playing in the yard. (A couple who had lived at the ranch had very recently moved with their yappy dog, and it may have been the first time since the family moved to the ranch 14 months before that there were no dogs on the property to alert them to the presence of strangers. Saturn, the family's dog, was a puppy and didn't necessarily bark at people he didn't know.)
2:20 p.m. Anna's Mom panics. She, Anna's Stepdad and the two friends rush outside to look for Anna, shouting her name.
2:45 p.m. After a frantic search of the creek area and outbuildings, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office is called.
3:15 p.m. Sheriff's deputies arrive and sound a siren, and the formal search of the ranch and Purisima Creek begins.