Amir Jennings, Zaylee Fryar and Joshua Davis

HuffPo has run an article with the headline: “Amir Jennings, Missing Boy, Neglected By Media Because He’s A Black Boy, Not A White Girl?”

I have written before that I think there’s a lot more to it than race. (I think it’s one of my better entries.) And yes, Amir Jennings should be getting more attention than he has. But I can think of a few babies who are getting absolutely no attention right now. All of whom disappeared the same year as Amir.

Babies like one-year-old Joshua Davis. And Zaylee Fryar, at a mere three months. The most recent article I can find for Joshua is from February, on the anniversary of his disappearance. For Zaylee it’s even longer.

Amir, Joshua and Zaylee all happen to be minorities. Certainly that’s a factor in the media attention, or lack thereof. But I think just as great as a factor is that in all three of these cases, it’s not clear the child was abducted by a stranger. Rightly or wrongly, there’s a lot of suspicion swirling around on family members in all three cases. I think, when there’s clear and convincing evidence of a stranger abduction (like, with Elizabeth Smart), the story becomes more popular with the media because it plays on people’s fears.

That kind of crime could happen to anybody, to any family. But people tell themselves that disappearances like Zaylee’s and Amir’s and Joshua’s only happen in messed-up families with crazy, drugged-up parents. Not families like yours. That would never happen to a family like yours.

I think that’s also why, in a high-profile missing child case, people are so anxious to go over the family with a microscope, exposing all their flaws, quick to judge the parents based on how hard they cry on TV. Because they don’t want to admit that this could happen to anyone. They don’t want to confront themselves with the truth that it happened to a perfectly normal family, because that means it could happen to you.

Do you think this theory applies to Amir’s case and others like it? Discuss.

Articles of interest

Zinah Jennings, mother of missing Amir, has given birth to a girl. I really hope that baby gets placed for adoption or something because Zinah, to put it mildly, doesn’t have a good track record as a parent. It looks like at minimum, she abandoned Amir, and may well have done a lot worse to him. Zinah is currently on trial for child neglect regarding Amir’s disappearance; they just started the defense.

The murder conviction in Cherita Thomas‘s 1980 disappearance has been overturned on appeal and the defendant, Jimmie Nelson, can NOT be tried again due to double jeopardy. Oh, well. I’ll have to move her to my “acquittals” list. The “convictions” list is still more than three times longer though.

This article is from back in April but still worthy of inclusion: all about the 1969 disappearance of Niki Britten. She’s classified as a runaway and I had zilch on her till I found this.

And there’s a long article on Leigh Marine Occhi, who disappeared from Mississippi in 1992 at age 13, leaving bloodstains and other evidence of a struggle in her home.

Dwight Stallings’s mom admits to probation violations but nothing else

Tanisha Edwards, mother of the long-missing baby Dwight Stallings, has pleaded guilty to six counts of violating her probation and could get up to three years in prison. She had been on probation for a weapons charge. It looks like all her probation violations are drug offenses; none of them are related to the extremely suspicious disappearance of her son. Tanisha has told all sorts of stories about what happened to him, and it looks more and more like foul play.

Dwight’s disappearance has gotten coverage locally in Sacramento, California where he disappeared from, but there hasn’t been much on a national level. He does have a family besides Tanisha,: his maternal grandmother, at least one uncle, his father and nine half-siblings, two on his mother’s side and five on his father’s. Unlike Tanisha, the rest of his relatives seem to care about him, but they say they don’t know where he is. Dwight’s father is not a suspect in the case because he in jail in the spring of 2011, which was when Dwight disappeared.

The very similar case of Amir Jennings in South Carolina has gotten far more attention, I think because Amir had a loving family to advocate for him. It doesn’t sound like Dwight had many people who cared about him, except his grandmother. Those two cases have a lot of features in common with Qua’mere Rogers: all of them black male babies/toddlers last seen in the care of a parent who never reported them missing and has provided multiple unsatisfactory explanations for their disappearance.

A fourth child whose disappearance fit all those criteria, four-year-old Jadon Higganbothan, was found dead last year. One of his accused killers — his mother’s boyfriend — just pleaded guilty. The other five who were allegedly involved, Jadon’s mother among them, haven’t had their cases concluded yet. Unfortunately I don’t have any reason to believe Qua’mere, Dwight and Amir’s disappearances will turn out any differently than Jadon’s did.

As for Tanisha Edwards, they’re still trying to get her to tell the truth about what happened to her little son. The latest idea is to take her to dependency court and order her to speak. But I highly doubt that’s going to work. If Tanisha did what I think she did, she has nothing to gain by admitting it and a great deal to lose.