Missing but Not Forgotten

With my Missing Persons Monday segment, I highlight popular cases as well as those that have fallen out of the public eye.

Sadly, the following case is an example of the latter.

Note: I try not to be judgmental of the parents/guardians involved in the cases of those missing, but instead prefer to focus on other aspects where I can offer some sort of a relevant contribution to the discussion.

On Saturday, January 10, 2009, at approximately 5:30 pm, the grandmother of six-year-old Adji Desir stated that after dinner, the little boy went outside to play with kids in the neighborhood.

Adji was being watched by his grandma in an area of Immokalee, FL called "Farm Workers Village" while his mother was at work.

The child has not been seen since. 

It was also reported that Adji is disabled and functions mentally at the level of a two-year-old.  He can speak very little, and understands primarily Creole.

Adji was wearing blue shorts and a blue T-shirt with yellow stripes when he vanished.

In contrast to the criticized slow response of police investigating the disappearance of Jorelys Rivera in Georgia (later found murdered) that I previously discussed, Collier County Sheriff's deputies assembled and used bloodhounds, ATVs, horses (and rider), and a helicopter in less than an hour after being notified about Adji .

Despite intensive searches (lots of wooded and water areas nearby) and investigation by the local Sheriff's Office, and with assistance from Florida State agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the case went cold.

A couple of observations:

1) Challenges

Detectives trying to investigate crimes in an area like this certainly require additional sensitivities.  The language barrier is difficult to overcome as law enforcement tries to persuade potential witnesses to come forward with information.   

Also, the transient nature of the population would likely make residents mistrustful of police.  I would expect that not telling authorities about questionable activities in the neighborhood is the norm.

2) Media Attention

Even though this happened in 2009, I was not aware of Adji's disappearance, and I feel like I read more news than most folks.

A missing six-year-old that was not a major national story for months? 

Sad that the media did not seem to view this disappearance with more urgency.

With the lack of coverage, one might ask: did the child not have the right "look"?

Or, since his parents have limited resources and a different language is spoken at home, does that make Adji less important than other missing children?

Some folks argue that these factors do play a role in which disappearance cases are covered (as in this video which includes a Google search done in 2009 of "Adji Desir missing" that only returned five pages--now it returns over 200,000).

I do believe a missing person's "look" plays a part in how much media coverage is generated.

But I'll save that argument for another day.

In any event, the whereabouts of Adji Desir remain unknown. 

And his important story lies buried on secondary pages of crime websites.


A Doc 2 Be said...

Poor little shaver - born with limited capacity and then vanishes with no one caring... tragic.

oceangirl said...

This breaks my heart and I wish I had not known it. I'll pray for him.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I sadly agree. I actually notice this quite frequently and it makes me feel so sad. I think socio-economic status coupled with race comes into play when it comes to coverage. It is very sad. What a sweet little boy, my thoughts are with him.

Miranda Hardy said...

I live in South Florida and hadn't heard of this. It's sad. So sad.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

oh wow. i always wondered why some cases were featured while others were ignored...
that's crazy sad and scary.
poor little guy!
i hope they find him soon!

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah they always pic and choose the best ones, (not that there is such a thing, but in their minds), to display. That will get the most reaction and = ratings. That is what is it all about in the end for them. Sad he's been placed on the back burner like that.

Talli Roland said...

Keeping him in my thoughts. So sad.

Rhiannon said...

This is so very sad :( Any case involving innocent kids makes my heart ache. I hope this case is solved asap.

Jax said...

It's sad how a little boy could go missing without people searching the entire world for him. If his "looks" really were the reason for their lack in search, then serious shame on them! If it's the language barrier, there are ways around that. Very sad story.

LadyFi said...

Oh my,just heart-breaking!

The Hook said...

Incredible work you're doing here. To take something like this on is truly heroic.

Brian Miller said...

what frustrates me a bit is the lack of attention...knowing you have a child with limited capactiy why allow him out without supervision in the first place...you make great points ont he back side as well but this could have been avoided up front..

Bob G. said...

Your observations are SPOT ON, especially when mentioning the relationship between TRANSIENCE and LAW-ENFORCMENT...perfect (we have it here in Ft. Wayne, as well).
The language barries is another good point.
How many people say OUT-OF-STATE speak Creole?
And YES, the media didn't just DROP the ball on this case...they basically started playing for the OTHER SIDE.

Excellent post.

Stay safe out thre.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've seen the same thing. I think this is the saddest missing person case I've read from you.

Clarissa Draper said...

That's so sad. I hope the news coverage (or lack thereof) had nothing to do with his race or mental status because that would be tragic. I hope they find him. He's so cute.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Do you know how many kids go missing every year? Not a rhetorical question, I'm genuinely curious. There must be many, and I often wonder why some become big news and others not. I'm sure race plays a role, but I bet that's not the whole story.

jodeeluna said...

Stories about children always get to me. You did a fantastic job with this post.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I guess it's no different than the prostitutes who go missing. No one figures they're worth front page coverage. At least not until someone realizes a serial killer is on the loose.

Audrey Allure said...

That's so sad :(

JJ.in.Phila said...

"I do believe a missing person's "look" plays a part in how much media coverage is generated."

I wound like to read that one.

It is so sad to see this happen to someone this vulnerable.

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

Gosh. You're right. If the kid looked or came from a family like Jonbenet Ramsey's, the media would probably taken more interest. Truly sad.

Maxi said...

I live in Central Florida and recall when Adji went missing. Authorities began to look for him immediately.

The lack of national attention may hinder and chance of finding the 6yr. old.

How sad…

Blessings - Maxi

Slamdunk said...

@ Secret Agent...: From a Department of Justice report a few years ago, about 700,000 missing children are entered in systems per year. Most are runaways and are returned (the 700,000 includes individuals who runaway multiple times) or are those involved in child custody disputes--cases that are closed.

It is estimated that only about 100-115 are what one thinks of as a kidnapping or stranger abduction.