JUST THINKING: Colorado case is unimaginable

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

The mom in me can’t stop thinking about Jessica Ridgeway. She’s the 10-year-old Colorado girl who was abducted on her way to school last week and a couple days later found murdered in a field.

I will never understand a mind that allows a person to murder — no matter the victim’s age. But how a mind allows a person to murder a child is unimaginable.

From the time my oldest daughter was born 17 years ago until we moved to Michigan in January, we lived in a house that was 20 or so minutes from where Jessica was taken. We lived about 15 minutes from where her backpack was discovered. We lived about 30 minutes from where her body was found.

Experts say the person who did this likely is from the area. They’ve warned parents to be cautious with their kids and warned everyone to pay attention to the behavior of people around them. Whoever did this likely is acting differently, they say. One FBI agent went so far as to say, “It could be your boss, it could be your friend and, ultimately, it could be your family member.”

I find myself wondering if I — or even worse, my kids — ever crossed the killer’s path. Unimaginable.

I will never understand why these things are part of our existence. If nothing else, maybe Jessica’s death is a reminder to know where your kids are and what they’re doing at all times, to teach them to be cautious, and most of all to let them know every day that we love them.

During the past week, I’ve found my mind drifts to what actually might have happened to Jessica. The fear she must have felt. The pain. But I find I can’t go there very long. Quickly I focus on the falling leaves, the sounds around me, paperwork. Anything to not have to think about her suffering. Unimaginable.

With some of the struggles my family has faced during the past four years, I’ve had people say to me, “I don’t know how you did it. I could never do that.”

Life doesn’t give you much of a choice sometimes. But at least I had hope. I think about Jessica’s parents. The hole created by her absence they must feel every minute of every day. I honestly don’t know if I could stand it. I know they don’t have a choice. A killer took that away from them. With any luck, they have faith that their daughter’s soul is in a good place and that the person who took her from this planet will be caught. The whole thing is unimaginable.

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