Being Blessed by Catastrophe
by Mika Moulton
The saying goes, “nobody said life was fair.”
I found out the true meaning of this phrase in 1995. At that time, as the mother of four beautiful children, living in a small town, with lots of friends and family, I was feeling as if all was well with the world. I felt blessed. I lived in a sweet house in a quiet neighborhood. The children in this quaint village would play together, the parents would stand and chat with one another and it seemed as though Mayberry, RFD had been re-born.
Almost every day in the summer of 1995 many children would gather at the sleepy river to play or swim. There was an area near the parking lot of the river that the kids called ‘the bayou’. A group of boys, my two oldest included, would fish in the bayou because they said the fish were abundant in this vicinity. The afternoon of August 7, 1995, my 10-year-old son, Christopher asked me if he could ride his bicycle two blocks down to the river with the other neighborhood children. I told him that he could go, but to be back by 5:00 p.m. Christopher said he would be home on time and rode off.
When he hadn't returned home by 5:00 I went to the park by the river and searched for him. Finding no sign of him, I contacted the county sheriff to report him missing. After speaking with other adults and children in the park and along the riverfront, it was discovered that they had seen Christopher talking to a strange man before leaving the area to ride home. Eventually a search began by the county law enforcement, local fire departments as well as the search and rescue dogs. A composite sketch was developed and distributed.
Night turned into morning, turned into night and into another morning. As each day passed, the searchers found different items.
Two days after his disappearance I was called down to the fire department. There was a glimmer of hope that raced through my body as I imagined his toothy grin and pale blonde towhead sitting there waiting to see me and then my nightmare would be over.
However, my need to be summoned to the fire department was because a bike was found, hidden among some trees and brush across the river. They asked me to identify it as Christopher’s. I sank to my knees, realizing that the bike was his…with its muddy tires and broken speedometer.
At that same time, my very loving neighbor, Mary, asked the sheriff about a previous resident of our town that had been in prison. Where was he? The sheriff believed he was still in prison, but vowed to investigate.
Moments later a diver brought in one of Christopher’s shoes. It was found floating in the river about a mile downstream. The following day his other shoe was found 4 miles downstream. Pieces of his shirt and his underwear were found in a wooded area about 20 miles away.
The Police staked out a motel after a clerk called in a tip, when she realized that a man that just checked into her motel looked like the composite sketch. It was the man that Mary had asked the sheriff about. He had been released from prison and was living nearby. The following day they watched as this man placed his boots in a dumpster and followed him as he drove to another area of the river and began talking to another boy. The police asked to talk to him at the station and he agreed, following the police car back into town. He allowed a search of his car and the police found that the carpet in the trunk was soaked with blood. He was arraigned the following day. By now Chris had been missing for 4 days.
As each second ticked by it seemed like an eternity. I vaguely remember staring out my windows, watching the neighborhood children on their bikes…knowing that Christopher would appear at any moment. My entire being was consumed by making the pain go away. I kept thinking, “When am I going to wake up?”
On August 15, 1995, eight days after riding his bike away from home, Christopher’s badly decomposed body was found, buried in a shallow grave. He had been stabbed over 50 times and his genitals brutally cut from his small body. The monster that committed this crime was found guilty of killing my son and this time sentenced to death. However, in 2002, former Illinois governor George Ryan placed a moratorium on the death penalty and commuted all sentences to life.
Once the terror and all consuming grief had begun to subside, I knew that I couldn’t just sit and wallow in self pity. I was angry that my son had been taken in such a violent manner. I was angry that the justice system had let a monster like that out of prison. I was angry that I didn’t at least get to say good-bye. I realized though, that anger is a powerful energy. I decided to re-direct that energy into something positive. I knew that I couldn’t even think about anybody else having to suffer the tremendous grief and pain that I had suffered. I wanted to make a difference and find a way to turn these tragic events into a constructive outcome. I needed to find blessings within the catastrophe.
I know that I am truly blessed. The friends that I already had were incredibly supportive. I was blessed by meeting many new friends. And most importantly I am blessed with the knowledge that I was trusted to have 10 years of sparkling blue eyes, pale blond hair and deep set dimples. There is a verse in the bible that goes something like this…
“…he who is given much, much is expected…”
I was given a precious gift – a son to enrich my life, to bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face. I realized that I had to give back.
Since the death of my beautiful son, I began a quest and demand for educational life skills to be taught to children. I also wanted to give back to other families that have endured the pain of a missing child.
I became a member of Team Hope, providing peer support to other families of missing children, an outspoken activist and lobbyist for children’s rights, a member of the Surviving Parents Coalition and a frequent speaker for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I have appeared on national and local television and radio shows, all with the desire that Christopher’s death will serve as a catalyst to prevent further crime against children and ensure child predators are punished accordingly. I dedicate my time to the community service of lobbying for change and in hope of bringing the community together to provide a safe and secure environment for all children.
Each year over 800,000 children go missing in the United States. Most of these children are taken by non-custodial parents. Many others are runaways. However, almost 60,000 children each year go missing by stranger abduction.
Sixty Thousand Children? Yes – 60,000 children go missing each year through predatory abduction. That is twice the population of my hometown - Kankakee, Illinois.
The media is very good at broadcasting the news of the pretty little blue-eyed blond girl, or the controversial family dynamics that are brewing beneath the news of the missing child. However, we rarely hear of the Hispanic boy or the African American girl that have been snatched from their loving home. In my eyes, a missing child is a missing child is a missing child. No matter what their race, their status, their age or gender.
Have we become so calloused that we cannot or will not demand that our legislators take appropriate action? I realize that people are unaware of the statistics that prey upon our children. I too, was unaware before my son was so brutally killed. However, it is my goal that the public become knowledgeable and that everyone reach out to make change.
I mentioned about the 800,000 children that go missing in the U.S. each year. Here are some other statistics:
· There are over 4 million child molesters in the United States. That is one molester for every square mile.
· The average predator will molest between 30 and 100 children before they are ever caught the first time.
· There are 675,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. However, at least 100,000 of those offenders are non-compliant, meaning that they are literally ‘missing’ from the system.
· According to the Justice Department, 67% of the victims of sexual assault are younger than 18, and 33% are younger than 12.
· Sex offenders represent the highest risk of re-offense.
· 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be the victim of sexual assault before the age of 14.
· You – as a parent have a 1 in 42 chance of your child going missing.
· Nationwide there are thousands of unanalyzed DNA samples that could hold the clues to solving rapes and other crimes. Our DNA labs are underfunded and understaffed.
· There are over 1 million individuals that are downloading and distributing child pornography videos in the United States. These are violent crime scene images of children, including infants being raped and tortured.
I don’t offer these facts to frighten you – only to inform. However, they should frighten you. These are but a few of the many statistics that pollute our system. My question is – what can we do and what can you do to demand that our children are better protected?
The majority of us go about our daily lives believing that all is well in the world. We are saddened to occasionally hear about the missing or murdered child, never hearing about all the others. We have faith that our ‘system’ will take care of the offenders and absconders and believe that it will never touch our lives. Most of us feel very blessed, even in this time of financial crisis. We have a roof over our head and food on the table.
I am blessed in knowing the statistics. I am blessed that I have the strength to move forward and work to better our nation for our children. I am blessed by the catastrophe that touched my life to anger me into action.
I pray you will never be blessed by catastrophe, but I pray that you too will become aware and reach out into action.
CHRISTOPHER’S CLUBHOUSE OFFERS THE ONLY COMPREHENSIVE COMMUNITY SAFETY PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATES
There is one child molester for every square mile in the U.S.!
Christopher’s Clubhouse, a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization is the only known program within the United States that offers a Comprehensive Community Safety package to protect children from predatory crimes.
Christopher’s Clubhouse was developed out of necessity after its founder and Executive Director; Mika Moulton lost her 10-year-old son, Christopher to a kidnapping and brutal murder by a repeat offender. Mika has dedicated her life to providing children and families with safety education to protect against future crimes.
Programs include: A child safety and empowerment program using the radKIDS safety education curriculum, fingerprinting and ID’s for children, Internet Safety seminars for parents as well as teens and a Neighborhood Protection program that empowers the community and brings awareness to protect against predatory crimes.
The radKIDS curriculum used by Christopher’s Clubhouse actually trains children, in a multi-sensory, fun and interactive environment, to respond to dangerous scenarios. Children are taught safety education; everything from Home Safety to Resistance Against Abduction by doing simulated activities. Once they’ve actually done it, and practiced it, the necessary skills will come naturally and instinctively in a dangerous situation. Through this training, children become empowered learning to replace the fear, confusion, and panic of dangerous situations with confidence, personal safety skills and self- esteem.
The Internet safety seminars are developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Neighborhood PRIDE Program was developed by the Joyful Child Foundation. These programs have been brought together into one all-inclusive package to protect our children and communities from voracious crimes.
For more information contact Mika Moulton