Murder is, by its very nature, horrific. Some murders, however, stand out as being more horrific than most.
The gruesome discovery this week of the dismembered remains of Leiby Kletsky is one such case.
Leiby, a nine year old Chasidic (an ulta-orthodox sect of Judiasm) boy had been missing since last Monday. He left his day camp in Borough Park (a close knit, ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, NY) to meet his parents at a pre-arranged destination seven blocks away. Before we criticize the parents for allowing their son to walk even a short distance alone, keep in mind these were busy streets, it was five o’clock on a summer’s day, and it was broad daylight. Unfortunately, Leiby got lost.
The man whom he asked for directions was thirty-five year old Aron Levi, who, days later, confessed to having killed Leiby. Ironically, the boy undoubtedly put his trust in a man whose outer appearance was familiar and one which made him seem frum, the Yiddish word for righteous. (Levi quite probably spoke with Leiby in Yiddish and possibly wore customary religious garb as well).
It is a testament to our humanity that we have not yet become so cynical a society that the murder of a child, be it Leiby Kletsky or Caylee Anthony, does not still outrage us.
The question remains, what do we do with the monsters among us who would commit such heinous acts? Jose Ramos, the murderer of six year old Etan Patz (the child who was infamously abducted on his way to school in N.Y. in 1979) was only convicted in civil court. He is presently serving a sentence for child molestation and is due to be released in 2012. Ottis Toole, a convicted killer who was determined to have abducted and murdered six year old Adam Walsh in 1981, died in prison in 1996 before he could be tried for the murder. Many cases remain unsolved despite great efforts being made on the part of authorities and missing persons advocates.
A good deal has been done in the years following these well publicized abduction/murders: the milk carton campaign, the Amber Alert, the enactment of the Adam Walsh Protection Act which called for stricter sex registration among other things. Adam Walsh’s father, John Walsh, became a major activist and his TV program, America’s Most Wanted, has been responsible, over the years, for locating nearly 150,000 missing children.
All of these efforts are worthwhile and commendable and yet the fact remains that children are still at risk of being abducted. True, the incidence of “stranger abductions” is low, but this would be of little comfort to you if it were your child, or a child you knew, who had been kidnapped.
We need to, somehow, strike a balance between making children wary of all adults and teaching them to be cautious. One doesn’t ask directions of a stranger, assist a stranger, or get into the car of a stranger, regardless of the person’s demeanor or how well he or she presents himself or herself. In fact, in this day and age, it might be well worth repeating the cautionary tale of “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
Have a great weekend and thanks for joining me on the journey along
RHODES LESS TRAVELED,