A 10-year-old girl in southern California was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, held captive all day, and then released at a hospital. In shock, the little girl wandered next door to a coffee shop where she was found barefoot in a white t-shirt -- her parents say they put her to bed in a black t-shirt.
No doubt, this is a nightmare for all parents. No one wants to think that someone could come into their home and forcibly remove their child. It has shades of that horrific Danielle Van Dam kidnapping case from 2002.
She was a 7-year-old taken from her home in San Diego. Her body was found a couple weeks later and her neighbor was convicted of her murder. Thank goodness this story didn't go there. But I am still not sure I would call this story "happy."
The thing I remember the most clearly from the Van Dam case is her mother. Her mother took the stand and asked the convicted murderer why he couldn't have just left her alive. Why he had to kill her.
Obviously, in these cases, it's because whoever would kidnap a child is a depraved, sick individual. Why would killing a child be such a stretch after that? That is true in this case as well, no matter what the reason. This little girl was found with bruises and scratches on her face. What happened to her in the 10 hours she was gone isn't yet clear. It may never be clear.
What is clear is that her life will probably be divided into before and after when it comes to this experience. Thank goodness she is alive. But she is also traumatized. She has lived through a terrifying experience. Her name and photo were released to the media (and pulled as soon as she was found), and she was stolen from her home in the middle of the night. What will feel safe to her now?
We are always so focused on the "happy" part of happy endings. And certainly being back with her parents is as happy as a story like this gets. But here's a "happier" scenario: Little girl goes to bed, sleeps well through the night, wakes up in the same clothing she went to bed in, and goes off to school happy and unaware that child predators exist.
This? Is not a happy ending. I hope the two men who took her are found and that they are punished as severely as the law allows. My heart breaks for this little girl.
Do you think this story is "happy"?
Image via davidsonscott15/Flickr