It’s the worst experience any parent can endure: their child is missing and a frantic search results in the most horrific news possible. The murder of a child is a pain that most people cannot even begin to comprehend.
Somer Thompson was a bright 7-year-old who attended elementary school in Orange Park, Florida. On Monday, October 19 she was walking home with her sister and some friends when the conversation turned to an argument that Somer had with another girl that morning. This upset Somer, and she ran off on her own. Her sister saw her disappear into a distant crowd. It was the last time she saw Somer alive.
The search for Somer Thompson received national media attention. An Amber Alert was set up immediately and law enforcement officials labored desperately to find the young girl. Missing child posters that prominently featured Somer’s smiling face were placed on every available surface between the Thompson home and the school. America held its breath as we waited to hear what had happened.
On Wednesday, October 21, police officers discovered the body of a young girl in a Georgia landfill near the Florida border. She was first identified based on a birthmark and her clothing, then later confirmed using dental records. They had found Somer Thompson.
Florida Sheriff Rick Beseler made the most difficult call of his life and notified Somer’s parents, Samuel and Diena Thompson, that their daughter had been murdered. The Thompson’s were devastated to have their deepest fear confirmed; their beautiful baby girl had been violently taken away from them.
Following this tragic news another intensive search began. FBI agents started working with police officers to find the person who committed this heinous crime. Florida officers immediately searched for registered sex offenders within a five-mile radius of the school Somer attended. But so far they have no suspects. Their search will continue in earnest until the murderer is found.
Although the Thompson family is overwhelmed by their loss, they remain dedicated to finding the predator responsible for this appalling deed. Somer’s mother told the world, “I want you to know that I will not sleep until this person is found. I hope they get you and I hope they make you pay for a long, long time.” Somer’s father boldly stated, “Gold help the sons of bitches who hurt my daughter. They better find them.”
Our hearts go out to the entire Thompson family. They have received an incredible outpouring of support from their community. On Thursday, October 22, people from all over the area walked to the Thompson’s home to hold a candlelight vigil. The group sang songs, dropped off hundreds of gifts and let the grieving family know that people care about them and the horrible ordeal they are suffering through. They are not alone.
Investigators believe that they will be able to track the killer down. The search is on, the net is being thrown out and as we all watch we can only hope and pray that the guilty party will be found quickly. Somer was last seen in a busy residential area. And there is optimism that someone may have seen something that might be useful. If you have any information that could help, please call the Sheriff’s Tip Hotline at (877) 227-6911.