By now you probably all know about Somer Thompson. She’s the little girl who disappeared down in Florida and was found when detectives were wise enough to follow garbage trucks from the area to the landfill. I congratulate the person who thought of that before her body was buried under tons of garbage. My heart goes out to her family.
Of course we all know that there never really is an answer to “why?” You can whisper it in strained muted voices or shout it from the highest mountain in town, tearing your clothes in anguish, but you’ll never get an answer. One of the cruelest things one can say to a bereaved family is, “It is God’s will” or “She’s in a better place now.” Parents of darling little girls and boys don’t want to hear that. They don’t want to think that God planned all that and specifically yanked their daughter from their arms. They want to think that their home was the best place she or he could have been. “I feel so sorry,” is often all they need to hear.
One does not want to hear it, but there are those who say that great good can come out of great tragedy. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20. That was Joseph talking to his brothers about being sold into slavery. I’m not sure it applies exactly to a death, but we have all seen good at times coming out of horrible situations.
I wouldn’t immediately relate that verse to parents either. Perhaps they would be more willing to accept it after they have had time to grieve in order to motivate them into action on the behalf of others.
This kidnapping and murder is similar to that of Amber Hagerman from Arlington, Texas in 1996. She was only nine years old. She was riding her bike close to her grandparents’ home when she was abducted. Her mother and father were able to rise above her grief and convince the police to start The Amber Alert System to catch kidnappers, molesters, and child killers before they can cause harm. Their work was based on ideas and in cooperation with Mark Klaas following the abduction and consequent murder of his daughter, Polly. AMBER now stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response” but it was originally named for the young girl. The alert is called by various names in different states but it is always an AMBER alert.
The U.S. Department of Justice issues the following “guidance”, which most states are said to “adhere closely to” for the Amber Alert:
- Law enforcement must confirm that an abduction has taken place
- The child must be at risk of serious injury or death
- There must be sufficient descriptive information of child, captor, or captor’s vehicle to issue an alert
- The child must be 17 years old or younger.
“Many law enforcement agencies have not used #2 as a criterion, resulting in many parental abductions triggering an Amber Alert where the child is not known or assumed to be at risk of serious injury or death.” But even if the kidnapping is done by the parent, we can never be absolutely sure that the parent means the child no harm.
That is a good thing since one of the movies that really moved me was the true story of a boy called David who was kidnapped by his father and set on fire. The boy was badly scarred, but he survived the ordeal.
I have been so blessed with protection from my guardian angel during my childhood. I walked home alone just about a mile from grade school most of the time from the time I started third grade, although some of the times my older cousin walked with me. Sometimes I would stick to the sidewalk, other times I would climb the hill through the woods. My sister was only a student at my school until I was in school in third grade. She graduated and went to high school. I remember a time then when a boy invited me to his home to see his new baby sister. He lived in the opposite direction from my home. From his backyard I could see houses up the hill. I thought one of them belonged to a beloved uncle so I took off up the hill to find him. Of course it was not his home. I arrived home about two hours late from school and the neighborhood kids had just begun to look for me when I walked down the street. Nobody in my family said a word to warn me about the dangers. When I got my bike in fourth grade, I would often ride it long distances by myself, completely oblivious to my surroundings. No one asked where I had been. When I was in Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grade I would walk all over town by myself selling cookies. I went to some very seedy apartments down by the steel mill about three to four miles from home before I was aware of my location and how far I was away from my house. When I was thirteen, I volunteered at St. Francis Hospital in the city. I didn’t want to attend a wedding my family was going to, so I decided to walk seven miles home through some really run-down areas of town. In high school I rode the bus because we were too far away to walk. There were numerous times I walked home by myself when I missed the bus. I had no fear even though in high school I had to walk right past the state hospital. I could have been gone in a heart-beat on any of those occasions, but I was not aware of kidnappers and molesters. I pretty much reared myself. No one ever issued any warnings to me about the possibilities of taking off on my own.
Perhaps I lived in a safer place in safer times, but there have been kidnappings in the US long before I was ever born. Is a child a fool if no one ever tells her the facts of life? That is not something a child thinks of. Somer may have been warned to not talk to strangers, but what if she didn’t even have the chance to talk? What if someone pulled up next to her and threw her in the car before she had a chance to scream?
Parents live in fear that their children will be kidnapped. Statistically, the number kidnapped each year in the US is small. But statistics [also] show that lots more children are taken by acquaintances or people they know, primarily for the purpose of sexually assaulting them, so the parental fear may not be as overblown as it seems.
We live in sad times when children are abducted and often molested and possibly killed. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems we are hearing more about this every day. There was an amber alert on the highway today stating drivers needed to be on the lookout for a maroon car. A child had been kidnapped somewhere in Texas. I sighed a heavy sigh and said a prayer while I was driving. Maybe we should all pray for our nation’s children more often. They certainly need it. Namaste. Attic Annie
Since I wrote this there have been several more updates. I’m just going to list the web sites instead of linking them if you care to know more.
Nothing seems to be newer than that. I continue to pray that justice will prevail and the her killer will be caught.