The case of a missing mom in Michigan is now being labeled an abduction. The last time anyone saw Jessica Heeringa, she was working the late night shift at an Exxon all by herself. Then, 15 minutes before closing time, a customer called police to say he'd found the gas station empty -- there was no clerk at the till.
That was Friday night, and Heeringa's missing persons case has quickly gone national as cops pull out all the stops to find the 25-year-old and reunite her with her little boy. But that hasn't stopped the critics from coming out to ask why a woman was working such a "dangerous" job.
I've got one word for those critics. OK, two: Stop. Now.
Yes, Jessica Heeringa was working alone late at night at a gas station. From an outsider's perspective, it might sound like she was put in a position that allowed for this abduction to happen.
Might being the operating word.
Right now all we know is that she disappeared before closing time, leaving behind her purse and keys and the gas station wide open. There are reports of the missing mom walking willingly to a van but struggling with a man once she got there (there's no surveillance camera to back it up or help cops).
How that all went down or why, we don't know.
Could a second person working the gas station have helped? Maybe. Would a male attendant have been safer? Who knows.
Before we vilify her or her bosses, let's consider what else we don't know: why she was working said shift.
Maybe Heeringa was trying to do what every working mom does: balance quality time with their kids with time spent on the job earning the money they need to put food on the table. The night shift can be attractive to moms who don't mind missing out on the hours their kids are sleeping; and who plan to sleep while their kids are at school. It maximizes good mommy/kid time.
We do know her boyfriend was recently laid off, and she was working as much as possible to help support the family, so maybe the night shift was simply her best chance at getting more cash.
The point is, she was just a mom trying to do a job so she could care for her family. That something terrible happened is not her fault. It's the fault of the sick creep who has abducted her.
At some point in America, we need to stop blaming victims for what happened to them and remember that without criminals there is no crime.
Let's move past whether Jessica Heeringa should have been working a night shift alone in a gas station. It doesn't matter. She was, and she was abducted. Now she needs to be found, for the sake of a little boy back home who needs his mommy.
Will you share Jessica's photo to help get her home to her little boy?
What do you think of this odd disappearance?
Image via police handout