Who Will Find Your Child?

By Danny Domingo

Murder Victim Michelle Le

Murder Victim Michelle Le

I write to you as a proud member of the “misinformed” according to the statement by Rich Robinson on behalf of Sheriff Laurie Smith.

 

Once again a representative of Sheriff Laurie Smith makes a statement on record saying she CANNOT assist the civilian search effort for Sierra Lamar. Rich Robinson says “the Sheriff will do nothing to prejudice the case against the suspect.” He goes on to say, “She cannot comment and her uninformed opponents know it.”

 

I was asked the other day to explain just how I believe Sheriff Smith has stonewalled the civilian search for Sierra Lamar. BTW, one of the definitions of stonewall is “to behave in an obstructive manner as by withholding information.” I was also asked to explain how other law enforcement jurisdictions have responded to a KlaasKids organized search effort as opposed to how Sheriff Laurie Smith has responded. I need only to go back to the Hayward search for Michelle Le as a perfect example.

 

Within a few days after the KlaasKids Organization entered the search for Michelle Le our search leaders were given the following information by the detectives assigned to the case. We were advised that cell phone pings from Michelle Le’s phone showed that her phone went from the area of Kaiser Hospital in Hayward to the Sunol Valley. The phone stayed in the Sunol Valley for less than an hour before returning to the area of Kaiser Hospital. We were given much more information but the above information proved crucial to finding Michelle Le. For those of you unfamiliar with the Michelle Le case, the suspect killed her in the parking garage of the Kaiser Hospital in Hayward and then hid the victim’s body in a field in the Sunol Valley. The KlaasKids search focused on the Sunol Valley because that is where Hayward PD Investigators told us they believed her body would be found. Our civilian search team found Michelle Le in Sunol Valley on September 17, 2011.

 

Can someone please tell me how the Michelle Le case was prejudiced in any way by the fact that the Hayward Police Department assisted the civilian search effort?

 

It was the goal of the Hayward Police Department to find Michelle Le and they were willing to use ALL available resources to accomplish that goal. It is a terrible injustice to Sierra Lamar and her family that the Sheriff Laurie Smith is not willing to do the same. Let’s face the facts here. If Michelle Le had disappeared in Santa Clara County, Sheriff Smith would not have shared the information about the cell phone pings with the civilian search team and Michelle Le would still be missing.

 

Voters of Santa Clara County should know this. If your child turns up missing Sheriff Smith will NOT pull out all the stops to find your child. How scary is that?

 

But wait, I have more Mr. Robinson. And each time Sheriff Smith or her representatives bring up how she CAN’T help the civilian search I will give you more examples of how other law enforcement agencies have done exactly what Sheriff Smith says she CAN’T do. And there are many examples. Believe me. And just as important, I still cannot find a single case, nationwide, that was jeopardized, prejudiced, nor evidence excluded, as a result of any law enforcement agency assisting a civilian search team.

 

“Sheriff Smith says she will not prejudice the case against the suspect.” It sounds like she is more concerned about the suspect’s rights than the victim’s rights.

 

Yes, Mr. Robinson, one of us truly is misinformed. We’ll let the voters of Santa Clara County decide which one of us that is.

Legacy

Legacy is defined as something transmitted by or received from the past. In my business, which so often deals with the aftermath of loss, legacy is at the vanguard of peoples thoughts. While it might not have been at the forefront of our minds when all was well, it becomes integrally tied into future considerations as we cope with the loss of a loved one. The closer our relationship to the one who has passed, the more we think about their legacy.

 

8-year-old Polly Klaas

When the past arrives suddenly and without invitation defining a legacy is a way to make sense of the senseless, and to give meaning to death. It was thoughts of legacy that helped me ascend from the depths of the abyss after Polly’s tragedy in 1993. She had given beautiful meaning to her life, but after October 1, she only existed in memory and risked being measured as nothing more than a statistical abstraction. I wanted to ensure that her death had meaning; that it was not in vain. To achieve that goal I had to create her legacy.

 

Violet and I thought that the Polly Klaas Foundation would be the instrument of that legacy, but instead we were deceived. Finally, the KlaasKids Foundation, which we founded and controlled, became the vessel upon which her legacy would be conceived and implemented. Stop Crimes Against Children became our mission and Polly was our beacon. Almost 20-years later, we feel a sense of accomplishment and truly believe that Polly’s death represents more than a point on a pie chart.

 

Amber Harris Video In Omaha, Nebraska the parents of twelve-year-old Amber Harris struggled mightily to define the legacy of their slain daughter. On November 29, 2005 Amber got off of the school bus at the wrong stop and was never seen alive again. Her remains were discovered in a shallow grave on May 10, 2006. The man sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and murdering Amber was a registered sex offender who lived near her bus stop. At Amber’s publicly televised memorial her mother announced that her legacy would include school bus rerouting so that proximity to the homes of level 3 registered sex offenders could be avoided. Amber’s parents were successful in that effort.

 

 

 

Megan Kanka & Megan’s Law

So many laws are named after murdered children. When the mother of seven-year-old Megan Kanka quietly and eloquently told reporters that if she had known that a high risk sex offender lived across the street she never would have allowed her daughter to play alone in the front yard, it struck a public nerve. Since 1996, convicted sex offenders in the United States have been required to register with local law enforcement and citizens have been able to access that information to protect their families. Megan’s legacy is Megan’s Law.

 

In 2005, little Jessica Lunsford was sexually abused and murdered by a level 3 sex offender neighbor in rural Florida. Her father Mark began touring State Capitols lobbying for legislation that would classify lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under the age of 12 as a life felony, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years old. Jessica’s Law has been enacted in more than 40-states and Jessica Lunsford’s legacy will protect children for decades to come.

 

Legacy can be manifested in many forms. Every time that Michael Le and Krystine Dinh volunteer at the Sierra Search Center they add to their beloved sister and cousin Michelle Le’s legacy. Like so many others who volunteer with the KlaasKids Foundation or the Sierra Search Center, they have found a way to pay their loss forward through legacy building. You can create a movement that will change the world; you can conduct your life in a way that will honor the memory of the child, brother, sister, mother or father who inspires thoughts of legacy; or you can do any and all things in between. One is no more important than the other. What is important is that you honor the memory of loss in a way that soothes your mind and allows you to sleep at night knowing that you have created meaning out of death.

 

While Polly’s years were few, her stature diminutive and her experience was limited, her legacy is as vast as her courage. She inspired us to be bigger, better and more than we otherwise would have been. Through the work of the KlaasKids Foundation her final act has reverberated from the family kitchen table to the president’s cabinet table.