Monday, January 14, 2008


These days, you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting the latest incarnation of a news conference over Jaliek Rainwalker’s disappearance. From searches across Washington County to candlelight vigils in Greenwich to a crackpot lady screaming on a street corner in Albany, the 12-year-old who quietly vanished in November has left his mark on the local media.

These news agencies –spanning from television to print to AM talk shows –can’t seem to turn away from the story even though the reports these days lack any sort of viable content whatsoever. Take for example the latest news dribbling out of the sphincter known as News 10 Albany. Three days ago, the station promised “new developments” in the case, which police couldn’t divulge. But because they were new developments –as opposed to the old developments the station airs every newscast –News 10 even bothered to contact Jaliek’s limelight-loving adoptive “maternal grandparents” about the breaking news.

Update: State police have slated a news conference regarding the investigation of Rainwalker’s disappearance late Monday afternoon at the Greenwich Police Department. Quick, to the newsmobile!

And the weekend-long Jaliekfest didn’t end there. The station joined just about every other branch of the local media at the foot of the Albany Housing Authority on South Pearl Street Sunday, where Doreathea Brace, the aforementioned crackpot, joined Dennis Smith and Barbara Reeley, the aforementioned adoptive grandparents, in the search for the missing tween. Just in case you missed it, here’s a brief summary of what they said: Adoptive father Stephen Kerr killed Jaliek.

This may sound a bit repetitive for some, seeing as though Reeley took to the airwaves Friday all but swearing her son-in-law murdered the orphan in cold blood. Brace, who was once referred to in print a “3rd Ward gadfly” of Albany, gained her moment in the spotlight after a chance meeting with Kerr as he put up reward signs around the city. In potentially Pulitzer footage captured by New 10, Brace lambastes Kerr for killing his wayward son.

For those outside of Albany’s 3rd Ward who might not remember Brace, she’s the same woman who once championed herself as a neighborhood activist. At one point, she advised the city’s black community that they’d be better served if they started a race riot.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been a riot here,” she told the Times Union in 1991. “When we start tearing up (stuff) we’ll get better taken care of.”

Just the kind of person needed in the porridge that has become the omnipresent and somewhat unprecedented search for Jaliek. Often times, missing children get a mention in the press and then a picture of themselves planted on the back of a milk carton. Not Jaliek. Since his disappearance, the boy has been dedicated a task force, a Web site and even his own novel now being penned by a pair of off-Broadway playwrights from downstate; just the type of writers that might be able to add some insight-free drama to the situation.

Then there’s the other side. Kerr and wife Jocelyn McDonald decided the best way to coax the boy out of hiding would be to offer the first-ever regressive reward for information regarding his disappearance. Offer a tip this month, it could garner you a $20,000 reward. But wait until February and you’re only going to get $15,000. Delay until June and you’ll end up owing the family $5,000 for each tip. Bravo, guys. You’ve set a new low standard for missing person’s rewards.

What is most disturbing about the Rainwalker disappearance is it doesn’t seem like anyone cared enough about him before he vanished. At least, not enough to prevent him from bouncing around the foster care system for the better part of his life. The boy was allegedly born to a crack-addicted mother and was abandoned by no less than three adoptive families –now known as the Find Jaliek Task Force –after they were unable to quell his “angry outbursts.”

So what happens if Rainwalker is found alive? Does he go back into the foster care system, only to be spit out thoroughly maladjusted at the age of 18 and primed to bring his outbursts to the rest of society? And if he’s found dead, who will be the ones crying the loudest, the very people that either could do or did nothing for him in life?

More problematic is that no one on the so-called task force or in the Kerr household or in the media seems to be able to grasp the fact that kids like Rainwalker disappear all the time. They come from mangled families, get chewed up by a mangled system and ultimately land mangled in life. It’s a sad tale often repeated throughout inner-city regions across the nation and not one anyone cares to think about too often.

But instead bringing this message to the public, the media –mainly those of the broadcast ilk –has decided to focus on these shameless self-promoters as they queer a missing person’s investigation. It’s the kind of story that has people broadly tuning out the television news as a reliable source to learn the day’s transgressions.


Anonymous demroc said...

very difficult case. my one problem here is when the police don't have any evidence against someone, but publically ask someone to take a lie detector test. they did this here. if they had something concrete, they would've locked him up already. but they do not have anything to go on, so they asked the guy to take one hoping he'd fail. because they are highly unreliable it seems a loose loose situation. if you pass, people will say they are inadmissable in court and unreliable. if you fail, you're done. reliable or not pack up your stuff and move out of town.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Kerr is the last to see him alive.

2. Instead of taking him home he took him to a family house that no one uses.

3. His van was seen on a bank video tape at a time he told police he was sleeping. I believe there is something like 90 minutes he can't account for.

4. He puts out a reward that goes backwards because he knows no one will collect it but it makes him look good.

5. He hasn't realy been all that cooperative with the police and he refuses to take a polygraph.

He is guilty and all this pressure being put on him is just to turn up the heat. It won't be long and it will be over.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MyTygue did it.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Great story - the best. I know these women including the grandmother and they are all crackpots. The money that raised at their fundraisers went into their own pockets. They are blood thirsty crackpots looking to lynch Stephen Kerr because the grandmother is jealous of her own daughters marriage. It get sicker than that.

8:53 PM  

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