Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 9:45AM The Blogmother
UPDATE: Tekenya has been found!!!!!!!
Sorry about the typos. I was in a hurry and ticked off. - When you call, before you hang up, ASK FOR THE NAME OF THE PERSON YOU SPOKE TO before they send you into voice mail HELL!
Oh the plot thickens. On yesterday I told you about the case of Tekenya Wooten. A 12 year old girl who is 8 months pregnant and has gone missing. Due to the work of WAOD readers we now know that she also was living in a group home at the time of her disappearance. I have used my early morning hour to do some investigating of my own since the Associated Press it too lazy to engage in what I think we used to call JOURNALISM, they have indicated that their Raleigh office will merely "monitor the situation". Translation- If they find her in a body bag in a ditch somewhere, she might get a mention on the AP newswire. Because to the newsroom decision makers, Black women and girls aren't newsworthy unless we're dead, or charged with killing someone.
What I have discovered this morning, however, is quite disturbing. In a nutshell, the group homes classify these children as run aways for administrative purposes. If she's "run a way" then they must not have to look for her and they get her "off their books." One small problem. She's 12, 100 pounds and 8.MONTHS.PREGNANT. This girl isn't mobile. She can't RUN anywhere.
As a result of the group home declaring her a "run a way" the Durham Police Department being the top notch investigative unit that they are checked a box, declared her a run-a-way vs "high risk" and thus a media embargo. Her story won't see the light of day as long as this designation remains. I have recounted my morning activities, I need you to follow up on this story through out the day.
I don't need comments about "how bad " this is or "how sad" this makes you feel. Your FEELING ain't helping this child. She apparently has no family and it is possible that her family members are perpetrators as she was living in a group home. So in other words, YOU ARE ALL SHE'S GOT!. If you don't ask someone to look for her, they won't.
The Durham Police Department issued a "crime bulletin" which is electronic and the news outlets throw these up on their websites like a press release and do nothing more. Why? Because the ALL POWERFUL AND ALL KNOWING Durham Police Department has classified this 12-year-old girl who is 8.MONTHS! PREGNANT! as a "Run-a-way" vs. "High Risk." I won't even start to talk about the lunacy of declaring a 12. year. old girl as anything OTHER THAN high risk. The fact that she was impregnated at or near the age of 11 OUGHT to mean she is at high risk per se. But that's not our focus today. Our focus today is to find out why the DURHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT doesn't think she or her unborn child is "high risk." Part of the reason she isn't high risk is because there isn't anybody who will raise HELL that she is missing. She apparently was living in a group home when she "went missing" because a 100 pound child carrying EIGHT MONTHS OF PREGNANCY is so. very. mobile!
Here is a recap of how I spent my early morning hours. I need you to follow up today by e-mail, by phone, by fax, by carrier pigeon.
This morning, EARLY, I called the Raleigh News and Observer. They ran the bulletin online, but according to the lady I spoke with "she didn't know why print didn't pick it up." She didn't know the girls was group home and thus would indicate that some governmental entity had lost this child. She "didn't know she was in any kind of danger" and the piece de resistance "didn't know she was the victim of any crime." Hmmm she's 12. She's 8! MONTHS.! PREGNANT! So as soon as I saw that, I knew she was in danger and have a pretty good instinct that some type of law had to be violated for an 11-year-old to be impregnated. Is it just me? This goes back to why these stories of young Black girls don't get covered.
The News & Observer
215 South McDowell Street
P.O. Box 191
Raleigh, NC 27602
Main: (919) 829-4500
Customer Service: (800) 522-4205
Do follow up with the News and Observer REPEATEDLY throughout the day.
Ask them why this didn't make it to the print edition of the paper? Ask them why it isn't newsworthy that North Carolina lost a child in their custody. Ask them why it isn't newsworthy that you have a 12-year-old running around who is about to give birth any second. Ask them why the Durham Police Department thinks that sending out a random email with no follow up is a sufficient expenditure of law enforcement resources in light of the fact that there are TWO children's lives at stake?
On to WRAL
Well WRAL clearly likes covering Black women, just not those who are MISSING. Crystal Mangum is the top story over at their site today. They, like the news and observer did the cursory job of printing the crime bulletin from the Durham Police Department on their web site.
Newsroom: (919) 821-8600 or (800) 245-WRAL
Newsroom Fax: (919) 821-8541
News Tips: (919) 821-8590 or use our online form
Jameela answered the phone. She thought I "had valid concerns." HOWEVER, their "procedure" is to take their lead from the Durham Police Department. If Tekenya had been classified as "high risk" they would have done more, BUUUUUUUT because the DURHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT has characterized her as a "Run-A-WAY" she will get no coverage, but Jameela will "pass [my] concerns along to [her] supervisor." She's 12. She's 8-month's pregnant. If she's not high risk, what about her child? What about the fact that Black women under the age of 20 are the most likely to be the victims of maternal homicide? What about the fact that this little girl was likely impregnated when she was 11-years-old? That ain't high risk?
I called the Durham Police department because that appears to be the source of the problem
Durham PD -Cheif Jose Lopez, Sr. of the Durham Police Department 919- 560-4322 firstname.lastname@example.org
I spoke to Faye who apparently is responsible for deflecting any complaints away from the cheif to "the desk sergeant" after some verbal jujitsu, I went straight to the heart of the matter with a very leading question (they work!) "So you are telling me that the Chief of Police does not want to know about citizen complaints about how his department is handling the case of a missing child? " Faye sighed realizing that she had been boxed in and I managed to get the privilege of leaving a message with the Chief's executive assistance, Tonya Littlejohn. I left her a message an hour and a half ago. Still waiting.
I then called the Durham City Manager who is in charge of managing the police department.
Durham City Manager- Thomas Bonfield (919)560-4222 email@example.com
Sandra answered the phone and sent me to Eddie Aikens who is the manager's assistant. I left a message inquiring as to how it is the Durham police department reached the conclusion that this child was anything other than "high risk." 12 year-old run away=high risk. 12 year old pregnant=high risk. 12 year old pregnant with birth imminent= high risk. 12 year old, pregnant, imminent birth, group home= very high risk. Extremely concerned about this designation given by the Durham Police Department as they have guaranteed that her story will not be covered in the media.
Mayor of Durham (919) 560-4333 ext. 269 Bill.Bell@durhamnc.gov
I spoke to Evelyn. At first she tried to send me off to the city manager telling me about proper channels and what not, but the advocate in me kicked in. I had found a live human being and I was not going to let her go without telling this little girl's story. "So you are saying that a citizen can't speak to the mayor about how his police department is handling the case of a missing child? "
So I told Evelyn the story, as the Durham PD has classified a 12 year old as "high risk" vs "run a way" she's doomed to NEVER get any news coverage.How long has she been missing? Does she know any body here?" Then Evelyn dropped this tid bit "The group home classified her as a run away so that they no longer have to deal with her" In other words, it is ADMINISTRATIVELY easier on the "group home" to classify her as a run-a-way. It makes their lives easier. They don't have to look for her. Evelyn said she would "pass this on" to the Mayor to see how he wanted to "handle this."
I impressed upon her the urgent need for some intervention as this girl at 12 years old likely isn't getting prenatal care and her child is due any day now. The baby is at risk and so is the 12 year old. If you have the time, in addition to the mayor, you can drop a note to each and every one of the Durham city council members their names are here and if you click on their names, their names and number will appear.
Durham Child Protective Services (919) 560-8424 ( This is run by Durham COUNTY)
With only 15 minutes left to go, I decided to do make one more phone call. Durham Child Protective Services. All I want to know is whether DCPS is responsible for regulating the group home located at 3529 Manford Drive. I called once and spoke to the receptionist who cut me off and then sent me into voicemail HELL. I wanted to know Joycelnn Moore- Her message said she would return my phone call TOMORROW! BAH! I don't think so! Joycelyn's voicemail said DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE if this is a case of suspected abuse or neglect. I was instructed to call back to the main number again. The phone etiquette-challenged Victoria answered again, corrected my pronunciation of Joycelynn Moore's name ( It's JOS-line y'all). I was cool though. I said "maam" all I need to know is if you are the agency responsible for regulating a group home at 3529 Manford Drive. " I was really nice about it. Rudeness ensued and our conversation ended with "I'll have intake call you". So "intake" hasn't called yet. After y'all call everybody else, call Jos-line to see if she is the one responsible for this group home. If not, that's fine. We'll keep looking.
Tekenya Needs You To Do More than "Feel Bad"
I need all you folks who come to this site and look on in horror at story after story about little Black girls who have been abused and murdered to do something more than read and look. If you don't think you have the gumption to call. That's okay. Send an email. If you don't know what to say, you might consider something along these lines:
"I'm concerned that the Durham Police Department has classified Tekenya Wooten as a "run a way" versus "high risk" as a result of this classification, no media outlet will cover her story. This reduces the chances that this young woman will be recovered. The fact that she is 12 years old and the birth of her child is imminent means that not only is this young girl in danger, but so is the life of her child. I am equally disturbed that the police department has done nothing further than take its cue from a group home that has an incentive to classify this child as a "run a way" for administrative purposes. A 100 pound 12-year-old can't RUN anywhere. Has she been classified in this way because she is poor? Has she been classified this way because she is Black? Has she been classified this way because she is pregnant? Has she been classified this way because she lived in a group home? Why doesn't the City of Durham think that a 12 year old pregnant child who is missing is not high risk? "
So don't just look on with horror. At the very least, email. But why not call AND email. The Durham Police Department is the logjam.
I want to know where she is. I want to know where they think she is. I want to know why she was classified as a run a way and how they make that determination. I want to know how much "investigation" took place she was designated in this way. I want to know what if any steps have been taken beyond the electronic crime bulletin to find this little girl. If you know where she is and she is safe. Let us know. If not, let us know why you haven't found her.
Just because the group home thinks she is a run away doesn't make it so. Even if she IS a run away, that doesn't make her garbage to be thrown away by the group home, the City of Durham, and Durham County.
MAKE A CALL and send some emails today!
She made the print edition of the News and Observer, but they didn't print a photo... read why they didn't print her picture in the paper.
The picture of Tekenya provided by the Durham Police Department was too small to reproduce clearly in print but can be seen at newsobserver.com/ news. News & Observer
No criminal charges have been filed regarding how an 11 year old ends up pregnant.