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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July 2003, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Shutters come down in Three Rivers
Jane Standley
By Jane Standley
BBC correspondent in Three Rivers, Michigan

The Studabaker family has posted a sign in the entrance to the modest family apartment they live in the town of Three Rivers, Michigan: "Go away" it says.

They have had enough of the attention of the local and international media and of their fellow residents of this small mid-western town of only 4,500 people.

It's all been too much.

Three Rivers is three hours drive from Chicago, another three in the opposite direction is Detroit.

It is a fairly remote, quiet community. A classic God-fearing mid-western town.

Leo and Sherry Studabaker
Leo and Sherry Studabaker have said they are standing by Toby

The news of Toby Studabaker's entanglement with a 12 year old, whom he told his family he believed was 19 and a college student, has come as a shock to people here. Most of all, his family.

His brother Leo and sister-in-law Sherry have stood by him all the way though.

He is a gentle man, they say. It is a mistake.

Now Toby's been detained in Germany, it is a chance to get it all straightened out, they say.

After an initial flurry of interviews with the local and international press, the Studabaker family have been lying low.

Toby Studabaker
Studabaker lived in Three Rivers briefly after he left the Marines

Security guards are keeping people away from their apartment complex. The media has been forced to retreat to the car park of a National Guard building next door.

Rumours fly. Sherry has been seen packing up to go, say some. No, she's still here, others say.

This family now has to piece together what has gone on.

Why Toby travelled all the way to Germany with the girl and at what time? At what point did he realise her true age?, they will ask.

It is believed Toby lived here in Three Rivers with his family for some of the few weeks since he left the Marines.

It may now be some time before he is back here again.




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