Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where on Earth is Yasmin Acree? Does Race Impact Missing Person Investigations?

When a teenage black girl from Chicago and two young white women from the suburbs all mysteriously vanished, would race be a consideration in the investigation and news coverage?

Yesterday, I attended a prayer vigil on behalf of a missing 15 year-old girl from Chicago's West Side, Yasmin Acree. It seems that Yasmin, the cousin of my dear friend, Rev. Ira J. Acree, has been missing for 6 months with no plausible explanations or police discoveries and no closure for family and friends.
I remember when she vanished from her home back in January '08. I'd heard about it on television and from the neighborhood grapevine. In fact, the newspaper I write for, the Windy City Word, ran her picture for about 3 weeks immediately following her disappearance.
Subsequently, when we heard nothing more about the investigation from electronic or mainstream press, I fugured she had been found or simply returned home.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Rev. Acree announcing the prayer vigil and the fact that Yasmin was still missing. As a member of the media I found his fact to be very disheartening in lieu of the very high-profile coverage given to two young women, Lisa Stebic and Stacy Peterson, suburbanites who have been missing for over a year, but whose stories remain fresh in the public's minds due to print and electronic news coverage.
My analytical mind tends to speculate the reasons why these cases have been handled so differently. Race.
Yasmin is a black girl from an inner-city community. Lisa and Stacy are young white women--wives and mothers who lived middle, class suburban lives. Yasmin is described as a basically good student and responsible teen who had no prior history of running away from home, who attended church regularly and who liked to hang out at the the YMCA; Lisa and Stacy were adults who were both admittedly involved in troubled marriages and who had both confided to their family and friends prior to their disappearances, that if anything were to happen to either of them that they should look to each of their husbands as suspects.

Lisa Stebic, who disappeared first, seems to have vanished into thin air. After numerous searches by family, friends, and strangers (and plenty of media coverage) there has not been a trace of her whereabouts. Her family continues to hope even after a year and a half that she is still alive.

Stacy Peterson vanished shortly after Lisa amid very suspicious circumstances. Relatives, friends, and even her pastor believe strongly that her husband might be responsible for her disappearance or at least knows more than he is telling. The husband, a police officer, maintains that Stacy has left he and their children and run off with another man. Her family says this scenario would be totally out of character.

As a part of her disappearance investigation the police exhumed the body of Stacy's husband's deceased former wife and autopsied her again. They reclassified her death from an accident to a homicide with her husband as a prime suspect. This woman's family maintained at the time of her death that it was not an accident but an orchestrated murder set up by this same husband.
The local police agencies have spared no expense in searching for these two young women.

Yasmin Acree is believed to be alive. has not received even a small portion of the high profile news coverage that these two women have commanded even though she is an underage minor and could not possibly be taking care of herself independently. Rev Acree maintains that the investigation into his cousin's disappearance is not yielding any results from the police detectives. All persons who may have seen her on the last day before she vanished have not been interviewed and thoroughly ruled out, including the former boyfriend of the young lady's mother.

Those folks watching closely include concerned clergy, family and friends, who feel that there appears to be some indifference on behalf of the Chicago Police Department in solving and closing this case. Could it be that race is playing a part in how this investigation is handled?

Happy Birthday Trevor Fields:A Biker Laid to Rest in Grand Style

On Saturday, June 28, 2008, a brother-friend of mine, Trevor Fields, was laid to rest in a homegoing service that was second to none.When I arrived at the service, which was held at Carter Temple CME Church in Chicago, I was greeted by a sea of bikers wearing colors that seemed to represent every black MotorCycle Club in the Chi-town.

Trevor, it seems was a part of the Red Liners MC. Their colors are red & black. There were many men and women Red Liners who came out to pay their respects. It was very touching and I'm sure his family was very happy to see such an awesome show of support from his friends and those persons who cared enough to put a comma in their day to celebrate the life of this young man. They say that it appeared to be over 200 bikers in his processional, in addition to the many cars.

I never knew Trevor loved motorcycle riding, which means I never really knew Trevor. I've known who Trevor Fields was only casually for 12 years. I knew his parents, William & Brenda Fields better than I knew him; but I knew he was their son whom they loved dearly.

I love motorcycles too. Trevor was killed in a motorcycle accident while riding his motorcycle on the Bishop Ford expressway in Chicago. Trevor was wearing his helmut, but in this instance it didn't help him. He died from mostly bodily injuries.

The news accounts I read were very tragic.I am the mother of four sons. I feel Brenda's pain at the sudden loss of one of her only two sons. When I saw her at the funeral I could only say, "I love you."

On July 5th, William and Brenda's son, Trevor would have celebrated the 36th anniversary of his birth. I know that this will be a very hard day for the Fields' family.

Trevor, I celebrate your life today. I am glad that you lived. I am glad that you knew how it felt to be 'one with the wind.' I am glad for the life of your daughter; I am happy that you had many friends and folks who loved you. I am glad that you had the parents that you had, and most of all I am glad that you knew Jesus for yourself.

Now, ain't that good news?