Megan Lancaster: A Fresh Look
Part One: Who’s Kadie Lancaster?
From trauma, we often find strength and a will to endure through great trials. For Kadie Lancaster, best friend and sister-in-law of Megan Lancaster, whose disappearance is among the most notorious unsolved cases in Southern Ohio, the trauma of her childhood gave her the strength to fight for Megan and other women who have been the victims of human trafficking.
Kadie, of South Webster, was born on Nov. 9, 1987, the granddaughter of the owners of the former Leet Lumber in Portsmouth. Early in her life, she was raised by her great-grandparents because her mom was using drugs, and her dad was in prison.
“I had a very, very good life with them,” Kadie remembered.
However, her life would not always be so pleasant.
“I lost my mother to drug addiction when I was eight-years-old,” Kadie explained.
The death was the first of many that would shake her childhood. However, This one struck less of a blow than those to come. Kadie explained that due to her mom’s drug use, she did not live with her mom anyway.
“Honestly, I still hold a grudge against her for leaving the way that she did,” Kadie commented. “Sometimes, I feel like she chose something over her kids. Would I think that’s a normal feeling? I don’t know.”
The next death in the family was that of Kadie’s aunt. This death was a little bit more difficult for Kadie as a child. With her great-grandparents aging, Kadie was supposed to be going to live with her aunt.
“That really messed with me,” Kadie stated.
In 2000, when Kadie was 12, her great-grandfather, who had been the only father she had known, also died.
“That really took a toll on me,” Kadied added. “He had raised me as his own.”
After so much loss, Kadie said she became a bit of a rebellious young teen.
Looking back, she explained that she was not doing anything too outrageous. She had started to backtalk and would clean her room.
“My grandma had this accountant, William Tackett with Reynolds & Co. in Portsmouth,” Kadie remembered. “He pretty much ruined my teenage years. He told her, ‘I think it’s time we find somewhere for Kadie. You’re just getting too old to take care of her.’”
By this time, Kadie’s grandmother was in her 70s. Kadie said that soon after the accountant and her grandmother made arrangements for Kadie to go away to a boarding school.
“At the time, I had just lost all of those people, my dad was in prison and I was just confused, very confused,” Kadie said.
The young teen went to Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia, which is a college-prep boarding school for students in grades 6-12 that also offers an Air Force Jr. ROTC program for students in grades 9-12.
At the time, Kadie was in the middle of her 7th-grade year at Notre Dame. Though Kadie said the school would’ve been a great opportunity if she had been at a different point in her life, at the time it just made her feel more alone.
“It was the worst mistake they could have made. My dad was getting out of prison very shortly after they sent me, and that just made it that much worse on me,” Kadie started looking back.
Her dad had already been home several months before she was able to see him. After breaking for the year, the boarding school would not accept Kadie back, a decision she said she was relieved about. After coming home, Kadie said she became much more difficult for her family than she had been prior.
“I became very rebellious at that point,” she stated, adding that she started running away and getting into trouble.
Now, Kadie says that she is not proud of the things that she was doing, but at 14-years-old her decision-making was that of an adolescent. Unable to keep her under control, Kadie said that her family tried many options. She was in more than a dozen foster homes, many she also ran away from.
Though she explained that she has fond memories of some of those homes, many are filled with tragedy.
“They were just not places children needed to be,” she commented.
Kadie was also sent away to group homes. Then, after running away and going to get belongings at her uncle’s house while he was away, she was discovered and charged with breaking and entering. As her punishment, Kadie stated that she was sent to COBRA, a co-ed camp for troubled youth that was charged with abusing children in 2008. In the camp, Kadie said the youth were physically abused and forced to sleep in horse stalls with cement floors.
“They would pick me up by my hair and throw me on the floor because I wasn’t doing push-ups right. They made kids vomit by making them work so hard. We literally had to clean the floors with toothbrushes. It was a very bad place,” Kadie relived.
Eventually, Kadie says she became the model inmate because she realized she couldn’t run away. There was nowhere for her to run to if she managed to escape the camp because of its isolated location.
“I had to either comply, or I was going to die,” she stated, adding that by complying she became a squad leader.
After 7 months at COBRA, Kadie says she was one of the children removed from the facility.
“I was one of the kids that they took out,” she remembered about leaving the camp.
Kadie remembered juvenile probation and court staff coming to get her and other Scioto County children completing sentences at the center.
Once again, Kadie returned to the area — this time, living with her aunt and uncle briefly and then with her dad. Again, she found herself back in juvenile detention. Kadie explained that this time it was not because of her habit of running away. Rather, it was because she had started drinking heavily.
After a month, he picked her up. With full custody of his daughter, Kadie says that her dad put her back in school, sending her to what is now Scioto County Career and Technical Center. There, Kadie studied cosmetology and became best friends with Megan Lancaster, not knowing just how much Megan would impact her life.