There are children kidnapped every day, all over the world. They are taken by a non-custodial parent, another relative, a family friend, or complete strangers. We don't like to think that these things happen. We hear about them happening on the news and we think "how terrible", then we move on about our day. We get AMBER alerts on our phone, but rarely do we see the suspect car. But sometimes, there is a case that completely rocks us to our core, and changes us and our thinking. For me, it was the case of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.
|Ashley on the left, Mirandaon the right|
They were my age (13), lived in the next town over, and they disappeared from the school bus stop at the end of their driveway in the morning daylight. Ashley disappeared first. Miranda disappeared 6 weeks later. There were searches. They had a spot on America's Most Wanted a few times. They were both found 8 months later burried in their neighbor's yard. My parents took me to the memorial that had sprung up around the house where they were found on the police barricade. I brought a bouquet of grocery store flowers. We had to park several blocks away because there were so many people and news crews to get through. The fencing put up around the property was completely covered- no one could see through to the police working behind it. In the aftermath of that experience, I was much more careful about how I went places. I was more aware of my surroundings and even of people that I knew. I didn't visit people's houses except for a very select few. Their faces were always in my mind, and have remained so- they are never forgotten.
For Cecilia, the case that will forever alter the course of her tiny life will be Memffis Marroquin de Leon. On November 14, 2016, ten-year-old Memffis was walking home from school in her uniform. She called to tell her mom that she was two blocks away, but she never made it. An AMBER alert went out for her, but nothing came of it. Days went by and her face showed up in every Tijuana Facebook group, in every telephone pole, and in every business front. I made her Missing Person poster my Facebook cover photo. I followed the case with obsession. As Christmas approached, I began to beg God to return her. There was a rumor that she had been seen in southern Mexico. I began to pray that maybe she was sold into the sex trade or was being held for ransom somewhere. As awful as that sounds and as traumatizing to her it would be, I was praying that she was alive and would be returned to her mother. The trail went cold, but we kept sharing her picture and her mother and the community kept looking.
On the morning of Friday, February 3rd, the badly-decomposed body of a girl matching Memffis' description was found in an abandoned lot about 2 miles from where she was last seen. She was wrapped in a garbage bag. The news was devastating to the community- but Memffis' mother kept saying that she would continue searching. However, on Tuesday, February 7th, DNA results confirmed that the body was in fact beautiful Memffis, and the continued autopsy showed that she died from asphyxiation on or around the day she disappeared and had no signs of sexual abuse. As the news came in, I felt the despair in my gut overtake me. How does a mother go on living after this? How can someone do this to a little girl?
Personally, this case is one that has completely shaken me the way that Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis had. I have a ten-year-old daughter, who doesn't look all that different than Memffis. The reason why Hector does not hold a job outside of the house is because I don't trust anyone with my children. Hector and I being without the children is so very rare that I don't remember the last time it happened. This horrific case has solidified my reasoning to never let Cecilia, or either of the boys, leave anywhere without a parent. We drop her off at the gate for school, and we pick her up at the gate. There's no reason for her to go anywhere without us. Visits with friends have to be supervised by one of us. We're considering homeschool for middle school for Cecilia and continuing homeschooling for the boys as well. I'm not ashamed when people accuse me of 'sheltering' my children. That's my job- to protect them. And since I know that the world is a scary place, I will do everything in my motherly capacity and power to make sure that I don't have to live the nightmare that mothers of missing or dead children live. I beg God in my prayers to never take my babies from me; to never have to bury one of my children. If God takes my child from me, I cannot stop His plan, but I won't give them up without a fight. I weep for Memffis, Ashley, and Miranda. I weep for their mothers. And I weep for this world, because there are people in it that do such things to children.
At the time of this posting, Memffis' killer(s) have not been found.