Young Black Girl Missing, Ignored by Police and Media, While National Coverage of Lisa Irwin's Disappearance GrowsCarolyn Castiglia
You know life in America is screwed up when a headline like that sounds like it’s from The Onion, but it’s totally real. Jezebel noted late on Friday that Jahessye Shockley, a 5-year-old black girl from Phoenix, has been missing since October 11, and her grandmother has been pleading for investigators and the media to pay more attention to her case.
It’s especially disconcerting that Shockley’s disappearance has been ignored when viewed in comparison with the coverage of missing baby, Lisa Irwin. Even if you haven’t followed our posts on Irwin’s story, chances are you saw her face while getting groceries or gas this weekend, since “What Happened to Baby Lisa?” is the headline blaring on the front of this week’s People magazine underneath a photo of the 10-month-old.
An Amber Alert was issued for missing ‘Baby Lisa’ on October 4th, and since then her parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, have become suspects in her disappearance — at least in the mind of the public. It was announced that Bradley and Irwin stopped cooperating with police on October 7th — right around the same time Bradley failed a lie detector test — and a few days later Bradley said she expected to be arrested in relation to Lisa’s alleged kidnapping. On the 17th, People reported that Bradley was blackout drunk when her daughter went missing, and the very next day the couple hired a high-profile lawyer to represent them. The lawyer, Joe Tacopina, put the kibosh on all media interviews with the couple. Tacopina is famed for representing Joran van der Sloot in Peru, where van der Sloot confessed to killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores.
Bradley initially told police she put her baby Lisa to bed at 10:30 on October 3rd, but has since changed her story and said she put Lisa down at 6:40. The baby is thought to have been abducted some time before 4 am, when Irwin came home and discovered her gone. The couple claims that a window in their home had been tampered with and that their three cell phones were taken. Earlier in the month, Strollerderby blogger Stephanie Precourt wondered:
Why didn’t anyone hear anything? The mom was asleep in another room as were her two older children. Was there no baby monitor? Were the three cell phones together? Because if someone were to take my cell phone in the night they’d have to come into my bedroom to find it. Also, if the dad was working at the time and discovered the child missing when he came home at 4 am, wouldn’t he have had his cell phone on him? How could it be taken? And hello it’s 2011 can’t they trace cell phones to find exact locations?
We can ask all of these questions because we know so much about Lisa Irwin’s case. The national media has been all over Baby Lisa’s disappearance since it happened. The Kansas City Star reported last night that one of Irwin’s neighbor’s “saw a man carrying a baby in the neighborhood a few hours” before Lisa disappeared and that “another man has told reporters he saw a man walking with a baby about three miles from the Irwin home around 4 that morning.”
But what about Jahessye Shockley? The Grio reports, “Glendale police believe Jahessye left the home through the front door but don’t know what happened next. They have no suspects, evidence or promising leads despite search efforts that included more than 100 officers and volunteers canvassing the area within three miles of the girl’s home.” No suspects, no evidence, no leads. No information. According to the Huffington Post, police have cleared nearly 700 tips and leads in Baby Lisa’s case.
It’s not just the media coverage of these two events that has been disparate, but the treatment of the parents involved as well. The Grio notes, “Police say they have no reason to suspect anyone in Jahessye’s family in her disappearance, including her mother, Jerice Hunter,” and yet, “State Child Protective Services removed Hunter’s three other children from the home after Jahessye disappeared but have not said why.”
So Jerice Hunter is suspicious enough to have her other children removed from her home even though police do not believe she was involved, but Deborah Bradley, who has effectively stopped cooperating with police, was blackout drunk when her child was “abducted,” who has changed her story and has failed a lie detector test and who has been accused of being a con artist by a former best friend is fit to keep her other children in her care?
How do you explain that? Racism. Plain and simple.
Photo: The Grio