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 parents.

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 dead?

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