Saturday, March 19, 2005

Too Close to Home

HOMOSASSA -- The body of missing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was found early Saturday, a day after officials said a registered sex offender confessed to kidnapping and killing the girl.

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said Jessica's body was found during an overnight search in a densely wooded area, only about 150 yards from the home the girl shared with her father and grandparents.

The dateline above is something no parent in this country wants to read, the discovery of the body of a 9-year old girl who has been missing from her home since February 23. What is additionally shocking is that they found her in a densely wooded area approximately 150 yards from where she lived. Why any human being would murder another human is beyond my ability to fathom. To murder a child, unforgivable.

I have been following the story since Jessica was reported missing, hoping and praying that she would be found alive and uninjured. I must admit, however, that I am seldom optimistic when these reports of missing children hit the headlines because I know that most of the time they end tragically. Sadly, this one did as well.

When I heard last Thursday on our local radio station WGAC-Augusta that authorities had arrested a person of interest in the case, my heart fell into my stomach. This is only 15 miles from where my wife and I live with our two young children. What if he hadn't been arrested and had committed the same type of heinous crime in our local community. When I heard authorities report on Friday that John Couey had taken a polygraph test and also admitted to murdering Jessica, my heart broke. In fact, authorities reported later that evening that Couey had in fact told them after the polygraph that there was no need to tell him the results, he already knew what they were. He then admitted to the crime.

To me, this is as sad as it gets. Not only did the man commit the unspeakable, he made the authorities "play the game" for a whole day as well. There is no better justification for "an eye for an eye" that I can imagine.

My intention has not been to draw attention to our local community due to the fact that John Couey was caught in our local area. It has instead been to demonstrate how complacent people can be about crimes such as this until it hits too close to home. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of young Jessica Lunsford, to those who have lost children in the past, and to those who are still searching.

And to those who would commit such acts, may the punishment truly fit the crime. You deserve much worse than our legal system can ever give you.

Read the story: The Sun-Sentinel

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