As some of you know, this bitch is a crime buff. I am fascinated with the motivations behind crime, society’s response to crime and America’s epidemic of homicide and murder.
Like many of y’all, I struggle with how to balance individual rights with the need to curb the damage done through violence. I had planned to write about the Supreme Court ruling on hand guns, but then a certain Richard sent a bitch an email about the Madeleine McCann case reportedly being dropped due to a lack of evidence. My thoughts shifted and I’ve decided to share them with all y’all today.
My interest in crime began in 1979 when I was a wee bitch and black children in Atlanta who had been reported missing were being found dead. My mother, who spent her childhood in pre-Civil Rights era Mississippi, watched a report on the missing and murdered children of Atlanta and immediately suspected the Klan. She sat my sister and this bitch down, explained that black children were being snatched and killed then warned us that, should we be foolish enough to get snatched and murdered, she’d find us and kill us again.
Somehow that made sense.
So, we played in the backyard within eye sight…no longer rode our bikes beyond our block…and stayed awake fearing the racist stranger who may be lurking in the night.
Just when I had begun to resent this new fear planted by my mother…Atlanta, after all, was someplace else and summer begged my child-based self to get about the bitness of exploration and trouble making…news broke that the police had captured the culprit on a bridge under which a body later washed up. My mother remained skeptical and she didn’t relax the outside rules, but I was comforted by the notion that all was well...
...until the discovery of the body of a decapitated young black girl in the basement of an abandoned building on February 28, 1983 in north St. Louis city.
We were around the same age…between 8 and 11 years old…and her body was discovered just 6 days after my birthday. Someone abused her, killed her, mutilated her and then discarded her.
To this day we do not know her name or who harmed her.
No one came forward and the case went cold.
But I have never forgotten her, not because she died in my hometown but because she lived.
Where was she born? Where did she learn to walk? Did she suck her thumb like I did? Did she laugh and play and dance with youthful abandon or was her life a never ending horror up to and including the end?
I couldn’t get past the fact that no one came forward for her. No school called to report a missing girl around that age and no terrified parents made the horrible journey over to the morgue to identify their child’s body.
She remains unknown but not forgotten.
Today, when I read the news that the Madeleine McCann case was coming to an end, I thought of that unidentified sister.
I thought of the press attention that portrayed her as a symbol of the depraved violence of the inner city…even though St. Louis city residents were as horrified as anyone else and feared for their children’s safety after the murder.
I thought of the hours upon hours of police investigation put into her case…and of a child killer who has gone unpunished for this crime.
And I thought of the role expectations play…of those who society is shocked to see facing the disappearance and/or murder of a child and of those who we expect to see face drama, violence and exploitation.
It is not that I don’t weep for little Madeleine McCann…or that I don’t hope and pray that she is found alive and returned to her family.
It’s that I’m not sure who weeps for that little girl who was murdered and left to rot in a basement of an abandoned building in a poor neighborhood in St. Louis city.
It’s all of those questions that made my mother skeptical that the Atlanta child murders were solved with a single arrest.
It’s our tradition of passing laws to incarcerate criminals coupled with our reluctance to examine the society from which they emerge.
It was my child’s heart that ached for the joy stolen from another child…my child’s mind that pondered who would search for my name, my family or my killer if our places had been reversed and it was me who was black and missing in America...but it is my grown soul that is still shaken by a crime now 25 years unsolved.
And may God have mercy...