Monday, January 15, 2007

Miracles do happen

I was riveted to CNN on Saturday as the Missouri kidnapping case unfolded. When police rescued Ben Ownby from a suburban St Louis apartment, they discovered Shawn Hornbeck, who disappeared 4 years ago. My heart was filled with joy for Shawn's parents, who in the aftermath of Shawn's disappearance, became advocates for missing children and their parents.

As the talking heads were talking to the various experts that get called on to fill air time, the anchor kept revisiting the question of why Shawn didn't try to escape after all this time. It is a recurring theme in the media coverage I've been seeing over the last 2 days, and it bothers me very much.

First of all, we don't know if Shawn ever attempted to escape or not. Secondly, and more importantly, we don't know what threats or lies Michael Devlin told Shawn after the kidnapping took place that would prevent Shawn from leaving. As if Shawn preferred to stay with his kidnapper. Thankfully, the experts (child psychologists) would be quick to defend Shawn and try to steer the discussion back to the emotional needs of Shawn no that he was rescued.

My daughter will be 11 (Shawn's age when kidnapped) this year. If she were somehow taken from us, I know that she would be susceptible to just about any threat made by a kidnapper. Threats about harming other family members, and even lies about the family not caring anymore would have a devastating effect on her.

Kids going missing is not new. When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, I made it a point to tell my daughter that no matter what any stranger told her, I would make it my life's mission to find her if she was ever taken from me. I told her that I would quit my job and get everyone I knew involved to find her. And that even if it took a long time, she should have every bit of faith that I wouldn't stop looking for her, and no matter what happened to her, that I wouldn't stop loving her.

It's a terrible shame that we would need to prepare our children in this manner, but you can't account for the creeps that inhabit our world. I won't speculate about what Michael Devlin did to these boys, and I won't need to guess that there is a special place in hell for him for whatever he did.

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