A homeless man discovered the body of 13-year-old Genelle Conway-Allen the morning after she disappeared from her school bus stop in Northern California. Her body was found naked in a parking lot attached to a park, five miles from where she was last seen. Her foster parents had reported her missing when she didn’t come home from school. A police surveillance photograph shows the seventh-grader carrying a Hello Kitty backpack. Police have said that no arrests have been made in the case, and Genelle’s body showed no signs of trauma. The man who discovered her lifeless body says she “looked like a mannequin.”
From The Daily Mail:
Relatives say Genelle and her brother moved around for much of their childhoods and were in-and-out of foster care while their mother struggled with personal problems.
Genelle’s father abandoned the family.
Despite her problems, friends say she remained a sweet girl who cared deeply about her friends and family.
An average of 2,185 children go missing every day. We read about these cases, we see them on the news, we hug our own children tighter and we worry a little more when we send them off to school. Genelle Conway-Allen was all of us at age 13, our hair up in a ballerina bun, jeans and a backpack full of books, probably distracted by thoughts of friends or homework, just a girl in a sweatshirt going home from school. Friends described her as a “sweet girl” who “cared about her friends and family.” From New Delhi to Steubenville, we read about these girls, girls who were raped to death, girls who were victimized by a group of peers who laughed about her being “raped” on video, girls like Genelle who simply vanish, only to be found dead and naked in a park.
I don’t know how we make this world safer. I don’t know how we protect our girls, and our boys, from this sort of thing happening. Something happens in my brain when I read about things like these, I find myself thinking of the “what if’s” and “if only’s.” I show up in a car and ask Genelle if she needs a ride and I tell her I wore my hair like that when I was young. I bring her home safe and make it back to my own girl in time for dinner. I show up in a car and stop the person from abducting her and I call the police from my cell phone, we wait and give them the description of the person who tried to snatch her and she goes home safe to her foster parents. The “if only” game is stupid and pointless, but I think these thoughts anyway, the stories of these missing, murdered children stacking up like dominos in the corner of my brain. It can be a horrible world. I know there is nothing I can do about it. I know I can’t stop the dead kids from being dead.
So I do what all of us do. I read the articles and the books about how to make my own children safer. I remind their friends when they are over about being careful. I sign the petitions, I make the donations, I write words that don’t really do anything but inform my readers about another terrible thing that happened in this sometimes terrible world and I go to my kitchen and turn on the coffee maker.
But before I do, I think of Genelle, and I hold her in my heart and hope beyond hope that she didn’t suffer, and that somehow she senses that we think of her, that we wish we could have done something to prevent her life ending at age 13. I close my eyes and hug her in my mind, I hug her as tight as I hug my own kids when they get on the bus, and I tell a ghost that she shouldn’t have ended this way. Go on sweet girl, may you rest in peace.