The news this week across our nation has been sad and difficult to follow regarding missing and exploited children. As a parent, aunt, and RN, I find it difficult to comprehend how anyone can sexually exploit, kidnap, or hurt a child intentionally.
Divers in New Mexico recovered a submerged vehicle with three children, and one adult from Lake Cochiti. The children now positively identified as Richard Anthony Sanchez, Daniel Isiah Sanchez, and Christopher Leo Sanchez, were 12, 9, and 2 respectively when reported missing in August 2001, and today they would be 10, 16, and 20.
Suzanna Sanchez reported her three children missing when her husband, their father, Richard Robert Sanchez, failed to bring them home in August of 2001 after a weekend visitation. Authorities believing Richard Robert Sanchez had abducted his children, issued a felony arrest warrant for kidnapping. May Suzanna Sanchez finally receive the answers she has been waiting for since 2001.
In Indiana, authorities have recovered the battered and burned body of two-year-old Jada Justice. Jada Justice is a beautiful African American child reported missing while being cared for by eighteen-year-old Engelica Costillo, Jada’s aunt while mom, Melissa Swiontek, was out of town.
Engelica Costillo and Tim Thachik are charged with the murder of Jada Justice. Jada was said to have disappeared from a Gary Indiana gas station where Jada’s aunt allegedly left her unattended in her car while shopping inside. Yet, authorities now believe Jada Justice died before she was reported missing, and the couple may have been under the influence of illicit drugs while Jada was in their care. May Jada rest in peace and her mom find peace in the days ahead.
In North Carolina a five-year-old, adopted African American boy and his adopted sibling are in the custody of family protective services after the boy’s adopted father may have admitted online to sexually abusing his adopted son. The father, Frank M. Lombard, the man accused of abusing the child, is a licensed pharmacist and the associate director of the Center for Health Policy Department at Duke University. He allegedly resides with a male partner and the two adopted children.
I have often said it is those closest to us who are most likely to hurt us, and we must stop giving unquestioned access to our children to those we call family or friends of the family. Children are more likely to be hurt or killed by someone he or she knows personally than by a complete stranger.
If you suspect a minor is being exploited or hurt call, your local law enforcement and report the incident no matter how insignificant you may believe the incident. Do not dismiss the incident, as this is exactly how a pedophile continues to gain access to and hurt children for many years.