Jayme Closs, shortly after escaping her captor. Photo by Jennifer Smith.

Statistically speaking, if kidnap victims are not found within the first 72 hours, the likelihood of finding them is almost zero. Jayme Closs defied these odds.

In October 2018, an intruder broke into her home. She and her mother hid in the bathtub. Within four minutes, both of her parents were dead and she was put into the boot of her abductor’s car. For the next 87 days she was trapped in his house, going hours and hours without access to food, water or a bathroom.

After her abduction a reward of $50,000 was offered for any information that led to her safe return. The investigation received thousands of tips and the media kept her story alive.

On January 10 her abductor left the house and Jayme saw her opportunity. She left the house wearing pajamas and shoes on the wrong feet. She met a woman walking her dog who recognized her from the news. Together they went to a nearby house and waited for the police to arrive.

While this story is undeniably an incredibly uplifting one, it has also highlighted the different ways in which crimes are reported. Every year in the United States of America hundreds of young girls go missing, yet in the majority of cases their stories are not told on a national scale. 35% of missing children are African-American and 20% are Latino, yet these stories tend to receive minimal media coverage – and less police attention – than cases of missing white children.

In the past two years true crime has become a pop culture staple. There are countless podcasts, books and documentaries on the subject, and the majority of them tend to overlook crimes committed against minority groups. My Favorite Murder is one of the most popular true crime podcasts to emerge in the past couple of years and even they have been criticized for the lack of diversity in the stories they tell.

However, there does seem to be a small shift in this content: if you are interested in learning more about crimes committed against African-American children and young people, I would recommend the Atlanta Monster podcast and the recent R. Kelly documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, where women tell of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the R&B singer.

-Michelle O’Brien
Contributing Writer
Girl Museum Inc.

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