On June 11,
2003, the St. Louis police recieved a shocking call. A man, Dawan
Ferguson, had just had his car stolen with his young handicapped son,
Christian, inside. The car was recovered later that day, without
Christian. Christian needs daily medication to survive, so the police
have said they have little hope of finding him alive. His father, a
bounty hunter, has opened his own investigation into his son's case.
His mother despairs, because she and her ex-husband were in a custody
battle. If she had had him, he would not have been stolen. Rightly,
some protest the case has not gotten enough attention because Christian
is African-American. The same is also claimed for other missing
children, like Jyrine Harris, Alexis Patterson, and Laura Ayala.
But there is a dark side to these claims.
One does not notice the pattern at first. It might be because no one is
specifically looking for a pattern, or the pattern is overlooked
because after all, these missing children deserve our attention.
However, with careful observation a chilling pattern emerges in the way
these cases are viewed. All, or virtually all, missing minority
children are suspected to have been killed, usually by a parent or
Occasionally, they may be right. Kynande Bennett supposedly went
missing from a mall. Her parents stories changed constantly, there was
no video of Kynande at the mall, and authorities eventually charged
them with murder.
But why do some people think that Jyrine Harris, clearly abducted, was
killed by his mother or father? His mother was in police custody at the
time; his father also has been ruled out. Yet many continue to insist he is a
victim of homicide.
Jahi Turner is a more famous example. After his stepfather could not be
charged with his murder due to insufficient evidence, the case was
amazingly closed. Yet, when many were angry, it was that his stepfather
was not charged, not over the closing of the case! A woman at the park
the same day as Jahi has been interviewed and provided "unspecified
information." If she truly had not seen Jahi, that would be additional
evidence. The fact that her information remains undisclosed suggests
that she saw the child.
Despite being seen by several children on the playground the day she
vanished, many insist Alexis Patterson's stepfather murdered her
instead of dropping her off at school. No motive is ever given, yet the
charge is repeated unfailingly.
And finally, Christian Ferguson. Many are convinced his father killed
him, once again without specifying a motive. But his father's work
suggests otherwise. He is a bounty hunter, and family and friends of
those he helped to jail could have easily taken revenge on him by
stealing his child, then buried him in shock when he died unexpectedly.
Strangely, this charge is not related to two other missing minority
children, Laura Ayala and Sofia Juarez. Perhaps this is because they
are White/Hispanic children, and do not fit the "image" of a murdered
child killed by parents. Ironically, a missing girl, Mariana Cisneros,
may in fact be a homicide victim. Her brother Luis and her were taken
from the custody of their father and eventually Luis was found dead.
Their mother, Martha Patlan, and her boyfriend Genero Dorantes, are
wanted for his homicide. But not a word passes on the boards about her
possible death. (Thankfully she was later found safe.)
There is a hidden racism in these charges, implying that minorities are
naturally prone to violence and frequently kill their own children. But
this does not get published. In fact, it is barely noticed. Are we
doing more harm than good when we speak of these missing children as
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