An unidentified child’s body found in a Georgia landfill might be that of a missing 7-year-old girl from Orange Park, Florida, named Somer Thompson. Somer Thompson has been missing since Monday afternoon when she disappeared while walking home from school. Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler stated that the body has not yet been positively identified but the Thompson family has been notified.
Beseler and Diena Thompson, Somer’s mother, appeared on the “Today” show Tuesday morning, hoping to generate leads in a case that authorities admitted had them stymied.
Unfortunately, although the Clay County Sheriff’s Office cannot state for certain pending familial identification of the found body, given that Somer Thompson has a distinguishing “odd-shaped” birthmark on her left shin, authorities already know whether or not the unidentified body is that of the missing Florida girl. If it is the lifeless body of Somer Thompson, an investigation into her death will begin. If not, some other family will receive the tragic news that they have lost a child.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist stated at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that, although the body was not positively identified as that of Somer Thompson’s, “all indications sort of point in that direction.”
But until the body is positively identified, the search for Somer Thompson continues around Orange Park, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville. Over 100 members of local, state, and federal law enforcement have been searching for the 7-year-old for two days. Volunteers from surrounding neighborhoods and the nearby Jacksonville Naval Air Station have aided in the searches. Authorities sent out an Amber Alert at 9 p.m. Monday after it was determined that Somer Thompson was not a runaway and that she was indeed missing.
Somer Thompson was on her way home from Grove Park Elementary School, where she is in the second grade. She began arguing with a friend and her older sister told her to “stop fighting.” Angry, she ran ahead of the group, which also included her twin brother. But when the siblings arrived home, Somer Thompson had not yet arrived. After just a few minutes, the babysitter called Diena Thompson, who, on her way home, flagged down a police car, starting the search for her daughter almost immediately.
Time is of the essence in missing person investigations, especially child abductions. It is rare that children specifically targeted for death or for abduction and sexual predation survive 72 hours. As Marc Klaas, founder of Klass Kids Foundation and whose own daughter was abducted and murdered, told Nancy Grace Tuesday night, 74% of children taken by a preferential predator (pedophiles that “prefer” boys or girls) are killed within three hours of being abducted, which is why it becomes imperative that parents establish their children are indeed missing in order to get police involved as soon as possible.
A recent case that points to Marc Klaas’ statistic is the Sandra Cantu missing person murder in California. Sandra Cantu was killed by her neighbor, Melissa Huckaby within hours of her abduction, police have said. The 8-year-old had been drugged and raped with a foreign object before dying. Melissa Huckaby then placed the little girl’s body in a suitcase and sunk it into a nearby irrigation pond. Melissa Huckaby was charged with kidnapping, rape, and murder in June. She pleaded not guilty.
“Nancy Grace,” HLN Television