The missing person world so often ends in tragedy and heartbreak. Human remains are delivered to the morgue in body bags, or go uncollected in the wilderness, go undetected in shallow graves, or tossed callously down steep embankments. Perverts are arrested and charged with crimes so heinous that they defy description or understanding. So, when a child who was taken by a sexual predator turns up days, months, or even years later it is a time to rejoice and reflect.
The miracle in Cleveland is akin to the kidnap super-lotto! Amanda, Gina, and Michelle are apparently healthy. All have been released from the hospital; have returned home to their families, or into seclusion, away from the glare of cameras and the probing questions of aggressive reporters. They have expressed their thanks and gratitude, and they have asked for privacy as they attempt to heal from the sadistic torment and torture inflicted upon them at the hands of a despicable monster. We should all honor their wishes, step back and hope that they are able to successfully re-enter a world that rushed past them at breakneck speed.
The defining moment, the one that changed everything for the three young women occurred when Amanda Berry took advantage of her first opportunity to escape the dilapidated hovel on Seymour Avenue. She demonstrated remarkable courage and poise in effecting her desperate and daring escape. Had she failed her prospects would have been grim and terrifying at best. Instead, with the help of hometown hero Charles Ramsey, she was able to say the words that are still reverberating around the world, “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for ten-years, and I’m here now. Now I’m free!!!”
Amanda found something profound stirring in her soul last Tuesday. She found the will to power. Parents should be talking to their children about how Amanda’s desire to live on her own terms, and not those of her tormentor, catapulted her through the broken door and into the light. He was bigger than her, he was stronger than her, but he lacked her patience, intelligence, and desire.
Midsi Sanchez also had the will to power. In 2000, after nearly three days of being chained inside her kidnapper’s car in Northern California, seven-year-old Midsi was able to free herself and make a frantic run for freedom. It was subsequently discovered that he had kidnapped and killed children prior to snatching Midsi off of the street as she walked home from school, so her courage and grace under pressure not only saved her own life, but also the lives of countless future victims.
In 2006, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf was kidnapped while walking home from the school bus. She was forced into an underground bunker where she was held prisoner for ten-days. This remarkable teenager outsmarted and outfoxed the creep who took her. Elizabeth directed the authorities to her underground prison. When the kidnapper realized that he was under pursuit by watching the news on a battery-powered television in the bunker he asked Elizabeth for advice. She told him to run away and stepped through the hatch into the light.
Jeanette Tamayo was only nine-years-old when a sexual predator pummeled her brother and mother and then kidnapped her from her home in 2003. Within two days, she gained his trust, and then convinced him that she had asthma and a contagious disease. When he let her go he didn’t realize that she had taken trinkets with his fingerprints on them. The authorities arrested him hours later.
These cases did not make national headlines, but the stories are huge and parents should be talking to their children about these kids who used intelligence and courage to defeat brute force, fear and intimidation. Because they were able to dig deep down inside these girls beat the devil and earned the right to say, “Now I’m free”!!!