Thursday, June 7, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Who the Hell is Danielle Cramer?

The name Danielle Cramer doesn’t ring a bell does it? This poor fifteen-year-old girl went missing a year ago in Connecticut and was found locked in a specially designed little room underneath a staircase in the home of a business associate of her family, a business associate with a history of “questionable involvement with minors.” Now, I do television commentary on just this sort of case all the time but I couldn’t for the life of me recall ever even hearing about this child. Clearly, she got no national publicity went she went missing, unlike Natalee Holloway, little Madeleine or Ben Ownby.

It wasn’t like there wasn’t a good possibility someone had done something bad to her considering her family had creepy people hanging around in the form of possible sex offenders. Police were concerned that Danielle had met a less than pleasant fate and finally found out that this was true, although thankfully Danielle at least was found alive after a year of searching. So, why, were there no news stories?

First of all, Danielle wasn’t seen being abducted by a friend or a camera. She just vanished. There was no exciting visual to stick in people’s minds, to show over and over on the news, or for someone to excitedly relate the story again as he got his fifteen minutes of fame. She just disappeared without any fanfare.

Secondly, she had vanished before because she was had been a repeat runaway. This was undoubtedly the number one reason there was only a halfhearted effort to find out what happened to her. If the media ran a story every time a teen took off and the police started a full fledged investigation every time some kid decided to go hang somewhere else, there would be no other news and the resources of law enforcement would be heavily strained.

The third reason Danielle didn’t get much press was that her family didn’t work very hard at it. The moms of the missing Natalee and Madeleine clearly made it their life’s work to find their kids. This family either didn’t care that much or lacked the resources to put forth such an effort. I would guess both which brings me to the saddest part of this kind of story,

Some kids just don’t get a break. They are born into less than functional families. This is why Danielle ended up being the kind of kid who is a runaway. She probably had reasons to want to runaway. Either there was abuse in the family – physical, sexual, or emotional – or there was neglect. This is the perfect child to become a victim of predators. They are easy to entice, they often won’t be missed, and the family may do little to search for them. Even if the parents do make an attempt to reach out to the public and police about their missing child, they often won’t be believed or liked well enough for a strong positive response. No one may feel sorry enough for them or their missing child. Sad, but true.

Children at risk are often put at risk by their own families and if the community cannot lend a hand, these children often end up in a bad way. It doesn’t necessarily take a community to raise a child if that child has wonderful parents but it does take a community to save a child if the parents are not up to the job.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

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