Monday, December 05, 2005

The Question (more fully) Unanswered

Friday night, Teketria (Teke-bug) S. Buggs, 12, was asleep on her couch in her Fort Bend County home near Orchard. Saturday morning she was gone. Nobody knows where. Nobody knows if she left on her own or if she was kidnapped or when she disappeared. These are not the questions however to which I am referring. The question I have is this. Why did it take over 24 hours before the Fort Bend sheriff's Department issued an Amber Alert? Universally the first hours after a child goes missing are the most critical. More often than not, after 24 hours the child is very likely dead. The chances of bringing a child home safe after 24 hours falls rapidly. There would appear to be only two possible reasons for the delay. Either the FBSD is incompetent, or they are Biased. Both of my readers know, I would normally be the last person to claim racial bias. I am usually ridiculing the usual suspects for making things that are in no way racially motivated a media circus. But if this is not racial bias, then what is it? Simple incompetence? Criminal stupidity? Something else? I Challenge the FBSD to come forward and explain why it took more than 24 hours for an amber alert to be issued. Which brush should we tar the FBSD with? Stupidity or bigotry?

UPDATE: 12/6/05 12:33pm

I have emailed Fort Bend Sherriff Milton Wright requesting a statement regarding the delay in issuing an Amber Alert. I will post any reply he may have.

Sherriff Wright responds:

THE REASON IS SIMPLE....................HER PARENTS STATED THAT SHE HAD RUN AWAY FROM HOME

THE CASE WAS RECLASSIFED LATER TO "MISSING" AFTER INTERVIEWING THE MOTHER


To which I responded with the following:

Sherriff Wright, I appreciate your response, however it still leaves me with a question. At what age is it that a runaway child does not trigger an automatic Amber Alert? 16? 14? 12? My point being that even if she were a runaway, wouldn't her age still have warranted an immediate amber alert? 12 is prime age for most pedophiles, young enough that she probably has not fully entered puberty but young enough not to be as cautious with strangers as she should be. Even if she were a runaway, wouldn't she be at high risk of being exploited? Or for that matter wouldn't there have been a good chance that she left willingly with someone that would do her harm? Your response seems to indicate to me that the case was not given a high priority until the mother was interviewed again. Was the officer aware of the age of the child?


I will post more when I learn more.

UPDATE: 12/6/05 4:08PM

Now KHOU has picked up this story here. Hey guys, (NO)THANKS FOR THE (lack of) CREDIT! grrr.

UPDATE: 12/6/05 4:21 PM

Sherriff Wright responds to my second inquiry:

I APPRECIATE YOUR CONCERN, HOWEVER, THIS AN ONGOING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND IAM UNABLE TO ANSWER ANY MORE OF YOUR QUESTIONS.

HOPEFULLY YOUR QUESTIONS CAN BE ANSWERED LATER

SHERIFF WRIGHT


OK, so Sherriff Wright won't talk. Fair enough, he's had his chance at spin control and flopped. Here is what I figure happened. The first call probably was marked low priority because the dispatcher either did not pass on the age, or the investigating officer either didn't hear it or didn't care. Maybe the child's race played a part, maybe it didn't. Maybe the cop couldn't be bothered to put down the donut or the radar gun and do actual police work. I'd be willing to bet no amber alert was even contemplated until the step father started playing the race card (he started to allude to that in his taped interview on the news sunday night before they cut to the mother).

FBSD has severely dropped the ball here in my mind. They had better start getting off thier arse and find this girl and they had better find her alive. If she is dead or injured, you can bet the professional race baiters are going to crawl out of the woodwork and squash Sherriff Wright like a bug if they aren't doing it already.

Update: 12/6/05 4:47 pm

Fort Bend Now reports that side scan sonar images from the Brazos river about a mile from Teketria's home indicate a body. Divers are preparing to dive on that sonar target.

Update 12/8/05 11:26 AM:

I sent the following e-mail to Sherrif Wright yesterday, so far no response.

Sherriff Wright, my questions to not pertain to the ongoing criminal investigation, they pertain to your department's apparent slow and ineffectual response to the initial call.
My questions essentially boil down to these:
1.) How long did it take for the initial investigating officer to be dispatched?

2.)What is Fort Bend Sherriff's Department policy regarding runaway calls for minors?

3.)Are they given high priority?

4.)Is the age of the child a factor in the response?

5.)How does the response in this case differ from policy?

6.)Will anyone be disciplined for the lack of timely response?

You will note, only two of the questions pertain to this specific case, and then only peripherally and they do not appear to jepordize an ongoing investigation. Your reluctance to address these questions directly and openly makes your department look even worse than it already does, which I might add is pretty bad from my persective. If your department acted correctly, give me something that makes sense to explain it, if it did not, admit it and start trying to fix the problem, don't hide behind a straw man excuse of an ongoing investigation. I'm giving you a chance to give the departmen't side of the story, in the absence of a plausible explanation, I have to assume the worst. I plan on another blog post update at noon, I would like to include your defense of the department in it.


Update 12/10/05 9:20pm
Still no word from Sherriff Wright on my last inquiry.

Now they've called off the search and turned up another diappearance that the stepfather was at least peripherally linked to. But again aside from suspicions (and admittedly well grounded suspicions) they don't have enough evidence to actually charge him with a crime. Just as was the case for the first disappearance. Pattern? Possibly, maybe even probably, but closing the barn door after the horse is already gone does not get you your horse back. And issuing an amber alert 30 hours after the reported diappearance doesn't get you a kid back alive either.

Update 12-15-05 4:35pm:

This update is not one I had hoped to make but suspected would ultimately happen, a body has been found in the Brazos river. The body appears to the that of a young black female. It was found about a quarter mile or so south of F.M. 1489. The body has not been positively identified yet, but the odds that it is not Teke Buggs are pretty low.

Now the questions are:
1. Was it the stepfather or someone else?

To answer that they need to answer these questions:

2. Can an accurate time (or should I say DATE) of death be established?
3. Was she already dead when the amber alert was issued?
4. Was she already dead when the initial call to the FBSD was made?

4 Comments:

Blogger El Capitan said...

It seems pretty clear to me that purty white chilluns gone missing will have TV news crews beating the underbrush, where any AWOL kid darker than a paper bag gets the cold shoulder. Seems to happen all over the U.S.

December 06, 2005 6:32 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

true nuff El Capitan and that is what torques me about this too. Sherriff Wright seems to be trying to hide behind the "ongoing criminal investigation" statement but the simple fact of the matter is that virtually all of my questions were about what is standard procedure in a case like this and how did the response differ from the ideal. That said, the news crews seem to be pretty receptive to covering her disappearance, much moreso than I actually expected to be honest. The chronicle website AND front page of the city & state section covers it. It is the FB sherriff that seems to not give a flying frig. He's had his chance to either come clean and admit the response could have been better or to at least give a plausible excuse (sorry putting it back on the parents is no excuse) now it is Blog War....

December 07, 2005 7:48 PM  
Blogger Cory said...

Crazy story. Of course, they found the "person of interest" quicker than the little girl.

They may have drug their feet on the whole "missing person's" thing but they sure aren't slacking on the criminal case.

S.

December 08, 2005 5:03 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

my take on this is that the minute they pulled up the outstanding warrant, they decided he did it. They then figured the easiest way to find the body (they probably expected that she was dead already since thier suspect obviously didn't have her with him he must have killed her) was to arrest him and sweat him for the info. Why waste the time and resources on a huge manhunt when they have a suspect in custody? The flaw in this logic is that he MIGHT NOT have done it. The news reports so far indicate they have no evidence that he did it. That was a mighty big gamble to run with a 12 year old girl's life hanging in the balance. The SAFE thing to do was initiate an Amber alert immediately and interrogate the suspect at the same time. That however was NOT what FBSD did. And that is what bugs me.

December 08, 2005 8:16 PM  

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