OUR VIEW: Engage and watch out for each other

Photo courtesy Meridian Police Department

Jakie Toole

Along with the rest of the community, we’re deeply troubled by the apparent death of 5-year-old Jakie Toole.

The tale of Jakie grows sadder as each detail has been revealed since the discovery Sept. 11 of what police believe to be his remains, stashed in a plastic bag, in a house on Crabapple Drive in Meridian.

DNA results have yet to confirm the remains’ identity, but police are confident they belong to Jakie who had been seen last in April but not reported missing until Sept. 4.

His caregiver, Celeste Louise Smith, is charged with capital murder in the death of Jakie, a special needs child, who is believed to have been burned, battered and buried away. A younger child in the house also showed signs of abuse, police said.

Their mother, Teasia Warren, is charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The DNA match still must be confirmed and evidence discovered before a trial will determine whether they’re guilty as charged. Details will be revealed in court, but in the meantime we’re left with the questions of why and how?

How can a 5-year-old child go missing in April and his disappearance go unreported and unnoticed for five months?

Did no other family members notice or care? Did the disappearance go unnoticed by neighbors, friends or church members? Were there no social workers who could have looked out for the child, especially one with special needs?

We live in a time when we bend our necks down and stare into mobile devices, oblivious to the world around us. We leave our neighbors alone – when we know them – and we don’t ask questions when something seems askew.

Sadly, this child’s loss could happen in any city, in any neighborhood.

The time is too late for Jakie, but we all need to be engaged with our families, our neighbors, our congregations and our communities.

We all need to look out for the Jakies of our world so this doesn’t happen again.

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