Police response questioned in missing girl's murder

December 2, 2009 4:56:08 AM PST
Chicago police responded Tuesday evening to claims they did not take the case of a missing 12-year-old girl seriously enough.Jahmesia Conner's body was found Monday, about two weeks after she disappeared. She had been strangled.

Police say there were numerous sightings of Jahmeshia Conner in her neighborhood during the two weeks she was missing. But neither police nor her family was able to find her in time. Her body was found in an alley about a block from her home Monday.

Family, friends, and neighbors came together to mourn the death of the 12-year-old girl on Tuesday night. There were tears, hugs, and shared memories of Jahmeshia Conner.

A memorial was set up near the spot where a passerby found Jahmeshia's body on Monday, two weeks after family members reported her missing. She had been strangled. Now they want to find her killer.

"Whoever did this to her, please come out, please do,please," said Sheila Powell, cousin.

Jahmeshia's mother was surrounded Tuesday night by family and friends trying to comfort her. Among them was the mother of another young murder victim.

"It just hurts me to see that this child being reported missing to me wasn't taken serious enough for people to get out here and do what they had to do to prevent us from being here today," said Sabrina Harris, Ryan Harris' mother.

Family members say they searched and tried to get word out that Jahmeshia was missing. But they believe police and the news media failed to take them seriously until it was too late.

"When someone is missing, we should be more diligent about putting their faces on the TV, whether's there's an Amber Alert or not," said Powell.

Congressman Bobby Rush says authorities assumed Jahmeshia had run away from home, despite word from family that she had spent the day at church before boarding a bus for home.

"The entire community should have been alerted," said Rush.

In a news conference police denied they failed to take the case seriously saying they have no missing person classification for runaways.

"From the beginning, this case was given the priority attention it deserved because she was only 12 years old," said Dep. Supt. Steve Peterson, Chicago Police.

Police says they forwarded a flyer with information about Jahmeshia to the news media. ABC7 News contacted police on several occasions to ask about her disappearance after the family contacted us. However, we never received that alert from police.

Congressman Rush has pledged to raise a $10,000 reward to help find the killer.


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