If you are a family member of a missing person needing assistance, please contact me. If you know something about a missing person, please call your nearest law enforcement agency.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Valina McGhee - A Child Forgotten

Valina McGhee is missing. Google her name and you get zero hits. Searching the Chicago newspaper archives resulted in one mention - a 2001 article by Chicago Tribune news reporter, Kim Barker. Valina's disappearance was 3 sentences long in a story on Chicago's missing children:

And on June 28, 1989, Valina McGhee, 13, never came back to the South
Side home she shared with her mother. Her name and a few sketchy details linger
in the Chicago Police Department's files. But her disappearance never made it to
the news. She never made it into the state database of missing children, never
landed in the log of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children--an
oversight that police can't explain.

Ms. Barker went on to explain that, "Back then, the police and the public had just started changing their attitudes toward such cases, in large part due to efforts by John Walsh, whose son was kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall and murdered in 1981. His work launched the national clearinghouse for information on missing children."

The article that mentions Valina McGhee was written 20 years after the disappearance of Adam Walsh; seventeen years after the establishment of the NCMEC. The police couldn't explain how Valina was overlooked when the reporter did her story in 2001. Can they explain it now, another six years later? Valina is still not in NCMEC. She could be. "Better late than never" was the reply I received when I whined to Jerry Nance, Cold Case Manager at NCMEC.

I called around, trying to get someone to give me some details on Valina - maybe a picture forgotten in the meager file that remains in some storage box held by the Chicago Police....some stats, something....I couldn't get anyone to help me.

I want to add Valina to the cases of the too many missing on The Doe Network. I want to see her entered as a missing child into NCIC and NCMEC. I want Valina's family to know that we care - we care about Valina and we care about them. I'd like to ask them to contribute DNA to include in the national CODIS database for families of the missing - maybe Valina's DNA is already there.

I'm not bashing the Chicago police. I've had many good friends that were or still are among their ranks. I've met some wonderful men and women who go above and beyond in serving this city. They are overworked and understaffed and there are too many cases. But someone has let Valina down...for eighteen years. It's time we made up for that.

If she's alive, Valina is 31 years old. The chances are more likely that she is not...but if she is among the nameless dead we have no hope of finding her unless we recognize that she is among the missing. She is someone's child.