Some updates to stories discussed in this space over the weekend:
North Carolina police have confirmed finding the remains of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, whose disappearance was mentioned in “Children and Predators.” Her father and step-mother are prime suspects in the case, but no charges have been filed yet. Neighbors have reported an abusive relationship between Zahra, a bone cancer survivor who needed a prosthetic limb, and her step-mother Elisa. Elisa, for her part, has been casting dark aspersions at her husband Adam. Zahra Baker was born in Australia, and her devastated biological mother, Emily Dietrich, hopes to bring her remains there for burial. Emily Dietrich had not seen her daughter for two years. My thoughts and prayers go out to Zahra. May she find a gentle rest after her short and difficult life, and may justice be done to whoever took it from her.
Meanwhile, there was a bit of good news in a horrifying case from Ohio. A 13-year-old named Sarah Maynard was recovered alive from the basement of one Matthew J. Hoffman, 30, of Mount Vernon. Sarah had been held prisoner in the basement since Wednesday. Her mother Tina Hermann, 10-year-old brother Kody, and family friend Stephanie Sprang are still missing. Blood was found at Hermann’s home, which is about 10 miles from the basement where Sarah Maynard was rescued. Neighbors report odd behavior from Hoffman, including spying on people from perches in neighborhood trees, and the local college campus went into lockdown when his pickup truck was found nearby on Thursday. Fox News includes photos of the missing women and child in their story. I would ask anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact the Ohio police immediately. The Knox County, Ohio web line for tips is here.
A follow-up to my story on the controversial body scanners and invasive searches used by the Transportation Security Agency: The Internet was on fire Sunday over video showing TSA agents performing a rough body search on a three-year-old girl after she refused to surrender her teddy bear. The little girl’s father turns out to be a TV reporter. If you’re having trouble getting hold of Janet Napolitano over at Homeland Security today, I expect her to be in meetings for quite a while.
I should mention that I’ve been through both body scanning and aggressive pat-downs, since the expression I typically wear in airports is quite menacing. I didn’t find the body scanning to be a big deal. Sadly, neither did anyone examining me. The pat-down was much less pleasant, and I can’t imagine subjecting a small child to it. It’s true that security must be careful, but superior human intelligence, and less fealty to political correctness, would greatly reduce the number of people who must be subjected to this kind of traumatic experience. It would certainly reduce the number of children who have to go through it. Judging by reaction to this video of the little girl being manhandled, I think we might be on the verge of crossing a line the airline industry will never recover from. They can’t afford to lose even a fraction of the passengers who spent this weekend swearing they would never fly again.