This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
If there’s one thing worse than the death of a child, it’s the disappearance of a child.
Monday marked the 13th anniversary of the vanishing of 2-year-old Teekah Lewis of Tacoma. Bill Clinton was still president when she went missing. The bowling alley on Center Street where she vanished has since been razed.
She was a toddler then; she would be a high-schooler today. And she is still missing.
Tacoma police have recently stepped up their search for Teekah’s reported abductor. Some clues – including reports of an elusive Grand Am speeding from the bowling alley – might still be promising. But someone must provide investigators with a concrete lead before this case can be solved.
What’s unbearable is the not knowing. We can’t presume to speak for anyone in Teekah’s family, but it seems preferable to be certain of a small girl’s final resting place than to know absolutely nothing about her whereabouts or fate. The uncertainty is a wound that never stops bleeding.
Teekah does not occupy this terrifying limbo alone. Dozens of South Sound children and juveniles have vanished over the years. Some were runaways and may have been streetwise enough to survive. Some are believed abducted by a divorced father or mother who’d been denied custody.
All are immeasurable heartaches for someone. For the sympathetic public, the worst are cases involving the youngest children who likely fell prey to criminals. Such as:
• Misty D. Copsey, who was last seen at age 14 in 1992, in Puyallup after she’d spent a day at the Puyallup Fair.
• Lenoria Jones, who vanished at age 3 in Tacoma in 1995. Her great-aunt, Berlean Williams, was the last person reported to have seen her; questioned by police, Williams gave wildly conflicting accounts of the child’s disappearance.
• Jeffrey Klungness, last seen at age 14 in 1996 – a suspected victim of foul play whose mother was found beaten to death in their Sumner-area home.
There are more – far too many more. Their cases are listed on the websites of the Tacoma Police Department and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The word “closure” can sound hollow to someone who has lost a child and will never cease to grieve. But when a child has gone missing, finding out what happened to him or her can bring an end to what must be the most agonizing uncertainty a human being can experience.
Anyone who might know what happened to Teekah – or any other missing child – could help relieve unspeakable anguish by bringing their suspicions to authorities.