A few weeks ago, I shared the story of a spunky, smiling local 7-year-old girl, Jorelys Rivera, who was abducted in broad daylight as she ran back to her apartment from the complex’s playground to grab a drink. She was never seen alive by anyone other than her abductor again. (Here’s the link to that post: http://www.mamasagainstdrama.com/2011/12/possible-not-probable/.)
Just a few hours ago, her 20-year-old killer pleaded guilty to her horrifying assault and murder. You can read about it all over the Internet, and I will tell you that the details are probably worse than anything you can imagine. The media is sparing little, so if you decide to read about his plea and his confession, consider yourself warned. Seriously, if you have nightmares about this stuff or don’t watch crime television, do not read these news stories. The only thing we really need to know is this: The killer will spend his life in prison with no possibility of parole. Ever.
It’s impossible to choose the most terrifying part of this hometown story, but what keeps haunting me as a mother is how this pathetic, cowardly child predator lured Jorelys away from everything safe and into a vacant apartment in her very own building: He took a picture of her roller skate. Her roller skate. Then, he showed it to her on his cell phone, told her she could come with him and he’d get it for her.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story. You already know how it ends. What I am going to say is, “What the hell? What the hell is happening in this world? What the hell are we supposed to do to keep our kids safe? What the hell does it mean that there is a human being capable of this horror, this evil, walking among us? What the hell does it mean that we know there are more Ryan Brunns sitting in their houses right now, plotting their next moves? WHAT. THE. HELL.”
For me, in this moment of grief and shock as the news breaks about this killer’s guilty plea, I am having trouble seeing how it’s possible to keep my children safe. Even if I tell them not to go with anyone to see a puppy or to retrieve a lost toy, they can’t possibly fathom why. They have never been hurt; they have no idea what I’m truly talking about when I say, “Some people in this world might want to hurt you.” Because, thank God, the worst they’ve been hurt is by the brick on the fireplace or the cement on the driveway. I am afraid, no matter what I say, they would want to get their roller skate back.
I am looking forward to an empowerment and safety program coming to our community soon called radKIDS (www.radkids.org). In fact, I’m biting my nails because it really can’t get here soon enough. Instructors are in training now and busily lining up resources to provide the experience to as many children as possible in our area. The first local children to experience this class will live in the apartment complex from which Jorelys was taken. The second group to participate, I hope, will include my oldest child. I want specific examples of what to say and do to help my kids protect themselves. And I want my kids to know how to kick a guy where it counts if he tries to take them anywhere. I want them to know how to figure out when it’s OK to scream at a grown up. Scream, by God, scream.
But I still struggle with my fear. And I think, as local news source Canton-Sixes Patch reported today, that District Attorney Moss came to the only possible conclusion any of us can really cling to when he referenced the Bible’s Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against… the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.”
I cannot explain what happened to Jorelys, Moss said. “I can only accept it.”
Brooke Bernard writes most Wednesdays for http://www.mamasagainstdrama.com.
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