The death of a child is always a tragedy. They are all gifts from God. When that death is the result of possibly human intervention - it is something so much worse.

On July 10, 1985, an eight year old boy from a very poor family in Oklahoma City went missing. His young life, and that of his brother, had been haunted by extreme poverty, the social stigma and cruelty that can bring, and several related health problems. Often dirty and unkempt and wearing clothes long overdue for a wash, he was laughed at by classmates, ignored by adults, and left to his own devices far too much. He was awkward and shy. Little Robert was starved for affection, yet as cautious as a wily cat who'd had his tale stepped on once too often.

On July 29, his remains, partially buried, were found under a neighbor's garage. The neighbor - who may or may not have been the mysterious adult "friend" that Robert said he was going to see on the day he disappeared - was later picked up in Texas. There, it should be noted, he had been in legal trouble over child molestation charges. Brought back to Oklahoma he was charged, and soon confessed, to the murder and burial of young Robert.

Later, in 1991, a judge would acquit the man, citing the prosecution had not shown a clear link from the body back to the suspect. At worst, he was guilty of illegally cutting up and burying a body but no proof had been shown he had committed the murder (or even if there had been a murder and not a natural death). Of course, everyone when they innocently happen upon the corpse of a child cut it apart, bury it, and cover it with lime to enhance decomposition. It is a natural response.

Did the man initially charged actually commit the murder of an eight year old boy? If this man did not commit the crime - that means someone else did. Someone who, since 1985, as been living somewhere with the knowledge of little Robert's last moments.....

For others, like the people who saw him at school (Eugene Field Elementary), or whose hearts were touched by such tragedy in one so young, they can only remember, and mourn, and hope that someday justice will prevail. They had to see an empty desk where a little boy should have been seated for another day of learning. Someday....

[For all children who have been taken by violence - and the people they have left to mourn them -but especially for ones like Robert whose young life was already marred by circumstances beyond his control - we remember and honor them all. We pray, let us do better next time and be there for them before something awful happens and show them a little human kindness.]

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