Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beyond the Door There's Peace, I'm Sure and I Know There'll be no More Tears in Heaven

On Saturday evening, a local 18-year old girl was kidnapped.

She was shopping at Target, in a very "safe" neighborhood. Just stopped to pick a few things up, as any person would do. Left the store shortly after 7 p.m, when it was still light and bright outside, and never heard of again.

If you've been keeping up with the news, I'm sure you've heard about it. And this story has gotten under my skin.

Some would say it's because I'm a mom and kidnappings take on a new level of terror when you're a parent. Some may say it's because it happened locally, and I mean locally, as the family lives a mile or so away and I visit that Target store frequently myself.

But I think the main reason why this story is bothering me so much is because yes, it is very local, and also for the really horrible time line of reaction from security, police department and FBI.

I'm not saying they could have prevented the incident or even caught up with her attacker -- it all happened very fast. But the fact that it took them days to even remotely get on the trail makes me sick to my stomach.

Here's what happened...

The girl was shopping at Target. She left the store around 7:10, still light outside. When she wasn't home by 7:30 her family became concerned. They called her. They began looking for her. Around 9:30 that night her grandparents found her car abandoned at the mall (just across the street from Target) with her purse and purchases in the car.

Her family was on the news Sunday evening saying she was missing, please help. To the best of my recollection, the police were not yet involved (we have a 48- hour waiting period before a person can be considered "missing;" incidently, the first 48 hours of are the most crucial for finding a person alive).

By Monday night, (48-hours later), the Target security cameras have been looked at and her kidnapping was recorded. The cameras also recorded someone following her into the store and out of the store.

By Tuesday night, the police had enhanced the video to see the person-who-was-following-her's vehicle.

Wednesday afternoon, the police and FBI had searched an area where they received "pings" off her cell phone (GPS location of when people were calling her). The last "ping" was sent at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday night. The found her body covered by brush in a local wooded park.

When interviewed, a resident recalled seeing a vehicle in the gated park (lots of our big parks have gates and are closed at dusk) after the gates had closed. He didn't think much of it, as the story hadn't even hit the news at that point.

I'm not naive, and I realize that we don't live in a perfect world. But the fact that in a matter of three hours (three hours) a girl can be kidnapped in broad daylight, driven 20 miles away over state line, murdered (and who knows what else), body dumped and covered and the criminal to do this drives away all without any police knowledge.

Does that make any sense to anyone? Because I can't wrap my head around it.

And her family, oh my her family, they have been doing everything they could to find her. And my heart is just broken for them.

I'm filled with so many questions, as I'm sure others are too. Where was the Target security? Who was watching the cameras? Why did it take two days to begin to review the security tapes? Why did it take the police four days to investigate the area where her last cell phone "ping" was sent off?

I realize there's nothing that anyone could do to bring her back. But there could have been prevented measures. And a more timely review of her case. In this day and age with some much technology, video feeds, cell for GPS, it should not have taken this long to find her. It shouldn't have taken two days for the video to be reviewed.


This is just so difficult.

Last night the police made an arrest of the man on the video tape. He was arrested for premeditative murder.

My heart goes out to her family and friends.


autum said...

This is so sad. No, sad isn't even the word, it's heart wrenching. Why? Why would someone be so evil and heartless to take another life then dump her out and go on about living. It's terrifying as the mother of a daughter about the same age to even imagine being in those parents shoes. My heart breaks for them.

As for the 48 hour rule, that is just crazy and something needs to be done to change that. Her car was abandonned with her purse still in it. Doesn't that show you she's missing? I understand that not everyone who is out of touch is actually "missing" and that a major search can't be launced every time a family can't reach a child on the phone but how hard would it be to look at the security tapes? That didn't cost a thing and it sounds like it clearly showed she was taken against her will.
It makes me sick to my stomach too.

oilclothjunkie said...

so sad.
no good words for how sad.
my heart goes out to her family and I'm holding the babes even tighter.

laeroport said...

Unbelievable. And you didn't even mention that her dad is himself a cop. Which really makes it all the more heartbreaking.

Aidin asked what we were talking about last night at dinner. I told her "this is why I don't want you out of my sight." There are too many sick people out there.

Ali said...

I hope that poor family are not tortured by the why didn't and what ifs of this horrible thing.

But I know I would be.

Chickenbells said...

I just heard about this last night (I don't usually watch the news anymore) and I am heartbroken. I agree with the 48 hour rule, especially since it's usually the people that are the most worried that know something just isn't right. I am also amazed at the apparent lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and even in between states makes no sense to me whatsoever....

I am so sorry for the family, and for the girl.

Woman Lost said...

There is no words for just how horrible this is. In a blink of an eye and a single trip to run errands, a child is dead and a family devastated. How do we begin to comprehend that?

amy h said...

I saw this on the local news on Tuesday (or Monday?) and I was very confused as to why the ticker kept saying she went missing SATURDAY and they were just then getting videotape from Target. I thought it was a typo or something at the time. There is a difference between possibly missing and abandoned car at the mall. Just looking at all the pictures of that girl, you could tell she had an involved family really looking for her. Some rules seem to cause more problems than good.

I was surprised at the location, too. Not that bad things don't happen in "good" areas, but I would have never thought to be worried at that Target.

Dinah said...

I thought that I was out of touch since I didn't hear about this until Tuesday, but I don't think the news of it left that general area until then, but I've been following it since Tuesday. I understand why law enforcement wants the 48 hour rule, but it does NOT fit every case and they shouldn't use it as such.Her purse was in her abandoned car. Did that not tell them SOMEthing was not right? The evil in our country scares me to death. I pray that God will wrap his arms around the Smith family and hold them very tightly.

Logtar said...

I am going to defend law enforcement on this one. I think what is released to the general public and what is actually happening are like night and day. Anything released will be to actually either get more clues or help with the search, sadly I think she was found rather quickly and we were just not told.

The story hits home in many ways, not just because it was so "local" to us... I live about a mile from you so... but even one of my friends has a babysitter that knew the girl personally... it is unreal that this community does not feel a safe as I would like it to be, but it is the harsh reality.

I think everyone should always be aware of their surroundings and always been on the defensive, not panicked but aware.

kristi said...

It hit me pretty hard too ... she was abducted a few blocks from my house. I had a sick feeling from the beginning that she'd been killed. It's heartbreaking that there are "men" (I use the term loosely) out there who think nothing of snuffing out a woman's life like this.
It's hard to second-guess the investigation from the outside, since the police don't usually make what they're doing public until later (sometimes not even then). If only someone had intervened when she was snatched. :(

Happy Zombie said...

This is so incredibly sad! I can't even imagine what the family is going through. What a nightmare. Laws MUST be changed and maybe this will bring change. I'm guessing it's hard on the law enforcement too -who could do nothing because of a ridiculous law.

Angela said...

48 hours!!! That is insane.

What a sad story. This stuff pains me. I can't think about it too long because I turn into a basket case. Her poor family.
Why are there so many whackos in the world? WHY?
Not o.k. Just not.

Angelina said...

I always wonder if it would have been helpful in situations like this if the girl had had (and used) either mace or a taser gun? No tool is going to help you if you aren't quick enough to use it, or suspicious enough to be ready.

The girl had to have not noticed she was being followed. I am so sorry this happened to her.

I'm going to go be worried now.

Oh, but I'm so happy they caught the man who did it. That always makes me sleep a little better. It's too late for the girl he already killed, but it isn't too late to keep him from doing it again.

velvet brick said...

Well, I had been following this story and I had no idea it was so close to you. So frightening! I am so sorry that this girl, her family and your community have been so horribly violated !! Please know that what info is given to the public is often different that what the authorities are as much as we may want to 'blame' them for not doing something sooner, we should remember that they are not to blame.
That goes to the subhuman predator who got into his truck and drove into that parking lot knowing that he was going to victimize and kill an innocent person.
My daughter just turned 16. She will be starting her very first job today. She will be working from 4:30 - 12 midnight. I am picking her up from work. I do all of the driving. And this story made me think...even at 18 I won't be able to let her go to the store by herself??!!? My heart just aches... for the girl, her family, your community...and for the innocence of a simplier, kinder world lost.

Mirre said...

What an awful story... her parents must go through hell.

Stacy said...

the horror is eating me alive too. I've got no words for how such an awful thing can happen in the world. it's just terribly frightening and disappointing on so many levels.

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

Horrible! I whole heartedly agree with you.
Another sad point is that some people will blame her....."she shouldn't be out at night" she shouldn't be wearing that" "she should have been more careful" Angers me.
I have a friend who has waited 2 weeks for her daughters restraining order against her asualting boyfriend to be served. 2 weeks! And he has a record. She is so afraid for her daughters life. And the police say to her "why were you hanging out with people like this?"
How and why is it the girls fault.

You're story is sad. I'm sorry.

Dawn said...

I just ache thinking about it all.

lera said...

When I saw that story on the news, I immediately thought of you because of the location. It is really a horrible, horrible story.

I was talking to a friend today about it and I also wonder why security cameras don't take better photos. Everything is always grainy. (I'm thinking of another case, too.)

I think they did say on the news that they had to get a court order before they could track her cell phone. But, then you wonder -- WHY???? Don't stall! Just do it.