Troubling Unsolved Crimes Continue

Yet another newborn baby (this time a 7-pound baby girl) was found dead in the Mississippi today. For real.
Considering that no one has come forward to take responsibility for the three other similar cases, the last of which occurred in 2007 (read all about them here), it’s doubtful that there will be any justice for this latest innocent victim. Despite many leads and years of investigation, the crimes remain unsolved.
It was partly because I couldn’t stop thinking about the crimes that I wrote Washed Up. Their unthinkability is what kept my mind spinning, wondering how and why would someone discard a healthy baby in the river.
Just yesterday I thought now that the novel had been written, I could get the troubling real stories out of my head. Move onto something else. Then today’s news story came out.
 The sad fact is that the baby’s death most likely occurred as the result of a flawed decision-making process of a person (most likely the mother) in crisis. This is not to excuse the baby’s death, or suggest that a crime has not occurred. There’s no excuse and this is, indeed, a crime, the worst kind of crime.
One of the outcomes of writing Washed Up is that I learned about a valuable service organization that helps prevent the kind of tragedy that just occurred in Winona.  As I was researching my book, I visited with Mary Pat Lee, executive director of the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. The first of its kind in Minnesota, the Crisis Nursery provides a safe haven for at-risk young children and support for parents (most often mothers) in crisis.

While the Crisis Nursery sheltered more than 2,000 children in 2009, it was forced to turn away twice as many children as it could place. Without support and services, the result can be grim. During 2009 in Minnesota, almost 4,742 children were the victims of abuse and neglect, and of those, 44 suffered life-threatening injuries and 21 died from maltreatment (www.dhs.state.mn.us).

With such so much at stake and stretched resources, Mary Pat Lee told me that her advocates’ only goal at times is to teach stressed parents how to ask for help. For many, asking for help is a huge step towards improving their family’s lives. But when the call for help is made, and no help is available, consequences can be dire.

Therefore, on the Crisis Nursery’s behalf, I hope readers of Washed Up can help in supporting the Crisis Nursery’s mission – so that when a parent takes that important and very scary first step, there are available services to meet their needs.

I am donating the event honorariums that the Dakota County Library is generously providing me to the Crisis Nursery. Please check the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery’s website (www.crisisnursery.org) and provide the support you can, or reach out to your local Crisis Nursery to see how you can help.

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