Keep monsters away from our children

Two years ago, an innocent child went to sleep in her bed as she had done every night for the short nine-year span of her life. She had no reason to believe that she was in any danger. Her father went to sleep that night feeling that his daughter was safe in her room.

But, like something out of a horror movie, a creature was slithering around outside, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the little girl. Somehow, the creature managed to get inside that room and snatch 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford from her bed. He carried her to a nearby trailer where he had been living, then raped her, tied her up, buried her in trash bags and left her to die.

Last week, jurors in a Miami courtroom found John Couey, 47, guilty of first degree murder, rape, kidnapping and burglary. The jury considered and recommended the death penalty. Now it is up to the judge. But, what is there to consider? If this isn't a case for the death penalty, there is no case that would qualify.

We're going to hear that he's mentally retarded and psychologically unfit to know right from wrong. This will be an attempt to save his life and allow him to keep breathing as a guest of the state until he dies in a cell.

He didn't consider how Jessica was going to breathe when he stuffed her in a plastic bag and buried her alive. He bound her little hands with speaker wire before shoving her into a shallow grave. When police dug up her body in Couey's yard, two of her fingers were poking through the garbage bags. Only a cold-blooded monster could commit such an inhuman act.

As for him not knowing right from wrong; he knew enough to try to conceal what he did. Couey has an extensive criminal record that includes 24 arrests for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and indecent exposure. In 1991, he was arrested in Kissimmee, Fla. on a charge of fondling a child under age 16. During a house burglary in 1978, Couey was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth and kissing her. Couey was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was paroled in 1980.

Imagine; this cretin was arrested 2 dozen times for serious crimes that we know about. That doesn't include any number of other crimes that we'll never know about. The "justice system" had more than enough chances to lock this animal away for good before he murdered someone. Once again, the system waited until the murder took place, instead of recognizing the obvious threat and removing it from civilized society.

How many times does a person have to be arrested before we realize that he is a menace to society? Well, the system that is entrusted with the safety of its citizens had at least 24 opportunities to save Jessica's life. It failed miserably! And there are many more monsters like Couey who have given society plenty of clues about their future plans. Yet, they are continually put back on the street until they work their way up to murder.

Once a child's life is snuffed out there's no way to compensate for it. Taking Couey's life won't bring back Jessica, but it may send a signal that monsters will be destroyed. Many states, including, just recently, Texas, have passed Jessica's Law, which provides some strict mandatory sentences for child molesters and the death penalty for a second sexually violent offense against a child under 14.   

However, the best way to protect our children is to identify the monsters before they strike. Last week, Texas Rep. Tan Parker introduced House Bill 2656 to ensure more accessible identification of registered sex offenders.  His initiative would require that all registered sex offenders carry an identifying emblem on their driver's license. Under Parker's legislation, registered sex offenders would have the letters "RSO" printed in bold black print on the upper left hand corner of their issued forms of identification, an idea that seeks to end instances where registered sex offenders successfully conceal their backgrounds and end up working closely with children.

"This week the Texas House of Representatives addressed child predator prosecution with the passage of Jessica's law," Parker stated.  "Now its time to look at the prevention side of the equation by better identifying registered sex offenders." Way to go, Rep. Parker! Do I hear an Amen?

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.
Two years ago, an innocent child went to sleep in her bed as she had done every night for the short nine-year span of her life. She had no reason to believe that she was in any danger. Her father went to sleep that night feeling that his daughter was safe in her room.

But, like something out of a horror movie, a creature was slithering around outside, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the little girl. Somehow, the creature managed to get inside that room and snatch 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford from her bed. He carried her to a nearby trailer where he had been living, then raped her, tied her up, buried her in trash bags and left her to die.

Last week, jurors in a Miami courtroom found John Couey, 47, guilty of first degree murder, rape, kidnapping and burglary. The jury considered and recommended the death penalty. Now it is up to the judge. But, what is there to consider? If this isn't a case for the death penalty, there is no case that would qualify.

We're going to hear that he's mentally retarded and psychologically unfit to know right from wrong. This will be an attempt to save his life and allow him to keep breathing as a guest of the state until he dies in a cell.

He didn't consider how Jessica was going to breathe when he stuffed her in a plastic bag and buried her alive. He bound her little hands with speaker wire before shoving her into a shallow grave. When police dug up her body in Couey's yard, two of her fingers were poking through the garbage bags. Only a cold-blooded monster could commit such an inhuman act.

As for him not knowing right from wrong; he knew enough to try to conceal what he did. Couey has an extensive criminal record that includes 24 arrests for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and indecent exposure. In 1991, he was arrested in Kissimmee, Fla. on a charge of fondling a child under age 16. During a house burglary in 1978, Couey was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth and kissing her. Couey was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was paroled in 1980.

Imagine; this cretin was arrested 2 dozen times for serious crimes that we know about. That doesn't include any number of other crimes that we'll never know about. The "justice system" had more than enough chances to lock this animal away for good before he murdered someone. Once again, the system waited until the murder took place, instead of recognizing the obvious threat and removing it from civilized society.

How many times does a person have to be arrested before we realize that he is a menace to society? Well, the system that is entrusted with the safety of its citizens had at least 24 opportunities to save Jessica's life. It failed miserably! And there are many more monsters like Couey who have given society plenty of clues about their future plans. Yet, they are continually put back on the street until they work their way up to murder.

Once a child's life is snuffed out there's no way to compensate for it. Taking Couey's life won't bring back Jessica, but it may send a signal that monsters will be destroyed. Many states, including, just recently, Texas, have passed Jessica's Law, which provides some strict mandatory sentences for child molesters and the death penalty for a second sexually violent offense against a child under 14.   

However, the best way to protect our children is to identify the monsters before they strike. Last week, Texas Rep. Tan Parker introduced House Bill 2656 to ensure more accessible identification of registered sex offenders.  His initiative would require that all registered sex offenders carry an identifying emblem on their driver's license. Under Parker's legislation, registered sex offenders would have the letters "RSO" printed in bold black print on the upper left hand corner of their issued forms of identification, an idea that seeks to end instances where registered sex offenders successfully conceal their backgrounds and end up working closely with children.

"This week the Texas House of Representatives addressed child predator prosecution with the passage of Jessica's law," Parker stated.  "Now its time to look at the prevention side of the equation by better identifying registered sex offenders." Way to go, Rep. Parker! Do I hear an Amen?

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.