During our whirlwind tour of Spain I took pains to avoid the news, preferring instead to live in the moment and focus on Spain’s rich heritage. Although Violet occasionally read the news online or watched BBC, the see no evil, hear no evil approach enabled us to take advantage of adventure, planned excursions, tasty food and complex wine.
For instance, we were unaware that our president had broken a core campaign promise by capitulating on tax relief for the wealthy or that our new Speaker of the House and his Senate counterpart were prone to tearful crying jags in contemplation of their own circumstances, not those of the public that they served. My free Holiday advice to Barak, John and Mitch is simple: Man up gentlemen, it’s a long and tough road ahead and America needs real leadership, not schoolyard shenanigans! Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
Of course we knew about and toasted the recovery of kidnap victim Jean Marie Berlinghoff over plates of sumptuous paella, but with our minds still dwelling on the Iberian Peninsula and Christmas and New Years looming, we were ill prepared for immediate immersion into missing child cases.
The first one reached us the day after we returned, on December 15. A thirteen year old girl with medical issues did not return home from middle school the day before. It had been two days, her family was frantic and the local Sheriff was unresponsive, saying that it seemed a runaway. This has always proved a good excuse for law enforcement indifference as the sheer numbers of runaway children invites indifference. During a couple of consultations with the girl’s grandmother we decided to do the following things: blanket the already created missing child flyer throughout the community, including areas that a local runaway might frequent; focus upon the neighborhood where her best girlfriend and co-conspirator was thought to live, stakeout the neighborhood to see if anybody was removing the flyers and then follow that person home; and finally, continue to press the case through Facebook and other social media sites.
The next day was problematic. She was still missing, the Sheriff couldn’t be bothered and the family was concerned about a worsening medical condition and possible gang involvement. This time it was decided that media needed to be notified in hopes of embarrassing the Sheriff into action. By December 17, she had been located and returned home.
Also on Thursday the plight of a two year old boy was brought to my attention via Facebook. His non-custodial father had not returned him to his mother. The father was in jail and most of the activity surrounding efforts to recover the child were being conducted via social networking. I told the family that they should re-format the photo essay into a missing flyer, contact local law enforcement to establish that a report had been made, and contact NCMEC to get a flyer posted on their website. The child was recovered by early Friday morning.
KlaasKids did not play a big part in any of these cases. However, we did consult the families, make pertinent suggestions, help with strategies, offer moral support and make ourselves otherwise available. Being involved in three successful recoveries in a row is kind of like the kidnap equivalent of a hat trick. It isn’t even important how the children were recovered because all were recovered alive and returned home in time for the holidays. Maybe there is a Santa Claus after all.