Originally posted on 06/05/04
Update: Despair drives Felix DeJesus to keep looking for his daughter update
Despair drives Felix DeJesus to keep looking for his daughter update
In the days after 14-year-old Gina DeJesus disappeared, her family's modest home on West 71st Street became a media hot spot: TV trucks parked outside. Mayor Jane Campbell visited. Visitors stopped to offer prayers.
"We have one goal, and that is to bring Gina home," Campbell said.
Today two months later the home is quiet, the trucks are gone, and Gina is still missing.
Inside, family members are sinking into despair. Gina's father, Felix, is "beyond desperate" to bring her home, Gina's cousin Sylvia Colon said.
Police and FBI agents continue to investigate, but no new information has surfaced. Authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for details that lead to Gina or missing teen Amanda Berry, another girl who disappeared on the West Side more than a year ago.
"We're still committed, most definitely," FBI Special Agent Bob Hawk said, "but we have nothing of any value right now."
Felix DeJesus is frustrated and worries that authorities are giving up on his daughter. He looks for Gina every evening after work, sometimes accompanied by relatives or community activists.
"I will not give up," he said recently, sitting in his living room. "As long as she's out there missing, I'm going to be out there with her."
DeJesus said police have asked him to stop going out at night to search. But Gina's sister Mayra said the searches are crucial. Searchers meet different people at night, Mayra DeJesus said, and are approached by some who have tips. Family members pass them along to the FBI.
Often, the family reviews Gina's case, leafing through a booklet of sexual offenders living in the area and hunting for missed clues that might bring Gina home.
But the volunteer efforts can lead to trouble. On May 3, Felix DeJesus was accused with other men of breaking down the apartment door of a sexual offender living near West 104th Street and Lorain Avenue. Gina disappeared a block away on April 2.
DeJesus denies he had anything to do with the broken door. Authorities say it is unlikely he will be charged, but the possibility concerns and angers him. He said police told him they plan to watch him.
"I'm not a bad person," he said. "I'm not a vigilante. I'm desperate to find my daughter. It hurts so much."
Desperation is familiar to other parents of missing children.
Marc Klaas' 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was abducted in October 1993 from her northern California home and later was found dead. Klaas, like DeJesus, went out regularly in the evenings to look for his daughter. One night he went to a nearby property with volunteer searchers even though the owner had refused to allow Klaas on the grounds. The owner came out with a shotgun.
"He could have blown us away and justified it," Klaas says. "But I couldn't see that then. I was exhausted and desperate. The cops' job is to find your child, but that's not in the mind of a father looking for his child. You just want to bring her home."
In Cleveland, Alisa Randle, the mother of Shakira Johnson, stayed by the phone when her 11-year-old daughter disappeared last September. Shakira's body was found a month later.
Randle, who had a leg injury, waited for any word about Shakira. Community activists were her legs and looked nightly while Randle prayed, desperately hoping her faith was strong enough to bring her daughter home.
"I know what he [DeJesus] is going through," she said. "The pain of not knowing, that's the hardest thing."http://www.teamamberalert.net/news/m...ticle&sid=1791