Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where's Jada?

A little over a week ago, on June 16th, 2-year-old Jada Justice turned up missing after her 18-year-old cousin and caregiver, Eugelica Castillo, said she left Jada in the car while she got milk and cigarettes from a convenience store shortly before 10 p.m. The story was widely covered in Chicago because it happened just over the border in Northwest Indiana. But that's about it.

While local reports have provided detailed coverage about joint local and federal law-enforcement efforts to find the toddler, the story has been slow to gain national steam.

By now we all know that the sooner media attention and law-enforcement resources are given to missing persons cases, the better. And by now we know that with each passing day, the chances of finding the missing person alive fade.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, nearly 800,000 children younger than 18 are reported missing each year. Of that number, at least a quarter are victims of family abductions.

These stories can't all be covered, of course but missing Black children are largely underreported and receive scarce media coverage. So, while it's great that missing-girl maven Nancy Grace of Headline News picked up the story, and that CNN did as well, it's too bad that it took almost a week for them to do so. Meanwhile, the folks at Black America Web, and the good sisters at tweetmeblack have done a commendable job of encouraging African-American bloggers to keep this story out front. We're re-tweeting and #jadajustice hash tagging like mad to keep little Jada on folks' minds and to encourage the national media to continue covering it.

Has it shown up as a trending topic yet? No. Not while Tweeters are still mesmerized by the fat, gay, celebrity-stalking Cuban and the divorcing, reality-show parents of multiples. That's right, I refuse to call them by name.

But I will call by name Jada Justice. Missing 2-year-old. Because until this little girl is found I want her name drilled into our heads and tugging at our hearts just like Caylee Anthony and Elizabeth Smart.

These stories tend not to end well. My former crime reporter's spidey sense tells me Cousin Eugelica is lying, and not ready to cop to whatever has happened to Jada, wherever she is. Gary, Ind. police have as much as said they're not buying Cousin Eugelica's story. That's ok. Authorities didn't buy Casey Anthony's story either but it didn't stop them or the media from making little Caylee's case a priority.

I want the same for Jada. I want Justice for Jada. We have the power and resources to help.

  • Use your Twitter and Facebook status to bring attention to the case.

  • Use the hashtag #jadajustice

  • Jada Justice Facebook Group

  • Contact investigators on the FBI tip line at (800) 225-5324 if you have any information about the case.

Let's do this.


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