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Fighting crime with Photoshop. For the past three years, a twelve-year-old girl has been sexually abused, with a photographic record in circulation via the internet. Police have been tracking the photographs, but have not released them for fear of tipping off her kidnappers—until today, with the girl photoshopped out of the pictures. Now they're asking the public to help identify the locations. So far the response has been overwhelming, and has narrowed the search for the crime scene to a single hotel.
posted by DrJohnEvans (72 comments total)

 
In the future, please warn us that you're linking to a site that requires registration and cookies.
posted by davy at 9:55 AM on February 4, 2005


A very interesting concept and I hope they catch the bastard(s) who did this. But some of those pics are completely impossible to tell anything about, I guess unless someone's actually been there and that's what they're hoping for.

I guess I'm not clear on why the girl couldn't direct them to where the abuse took place though.

This absolutely sickens me, "Gillespie said sex crimes investigators, who started to look into the case two years ago, believe the girl's abuser is a close family member."

On Preview: No login or registration for me at any of the links, davy.
posted by fenriq at 9:56 AM on February 4, 2005


The images of the scenes with the victim removed are extremely creepy. Mundane, but very creepy.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2005


I guess I'm not clear on why the girl couldn't direct them to where the abuse took place though.

My understanding is that they're trying to identify her, that she is likely still being abused.
posted by aclevername at 10:02 AM on February 4, 2005


fenriq asks: I guess I'm not clear on why the girl couldn't direct them to where the abuse took place though.

My understanding of it is that the victim has not been located yet, and that the police have released the photos in an attempt to find her and her abuser.
posted by orthogonality at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2005


Sorry. I'm used to full bugmenot privileges. Only the Toronto Star link requires registration, I believe.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2005


The photos are part of a popular series of more than 200 images involving this girl. They are used as currency online by collectors in order to get access to more photos.

*shudder*

I hope they catch the bastards.

Also I had to BugMeNot thestar.com's article.
posted by m0nm0n at 10:06 AM on February 4, 2005


Those are the spookiest goddamn photographs I've ever seen.
posted by argybarg at 10:06 AM on February 4, 2005


I guess I'm not clear on why the girl couldn't direct them to where the abuse took place though.

orthogonality nailed it. See the first link. They're trying to find the girl. She's not available to interview. The abuse is believed to still be happening.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:08 AM on February 4, 2005


I take it that the perp is not in the pictures.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2005


. Very sad.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2005


Very creepy. Good post. I hope they catch them.
posted by OmieWise at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2005


Thanks for the info, folks, I must have missed that important part.

Wow, that just upped the reprehensible factor by about twenty.

It looks like today is going to be a bad day for my humanity meter. Especially after this and the Iraqi Down's Syndrome boy. Damn, I might have to skip work and go get drunk.
posted by fenriq at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2005


jsavimbi, I read in the hard-copy Star article this morning (which is no longer available online with the updates coming in) that the perp was in some of the pictures, but "has been careful never to show his face". I don't think he was in any of the pictures released, though.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2005


Wouldn't they be more successful if they actually shows a picture of the girl's face? It's unlikely that she was kept indoors at all times. Surely her life and well being trumps her right privacy. Not to mention the other children these people may be violating.
posted by Doug at 10:22 AM on February 4, 2005


Police have been tracking the photographs, but have not released them for fear of tipping off her kidnappers

So, ok, between that and the typos I might want to spend more than 30 seconds on my comments. Still, I'd be surprised if these techniques actually lead to an arrest.
posted by Doug at 10:27 AM on February 4, 2005


Wouldn't they be more successful if they actually shows a picture of the girl's face?

Right, because humiliating the girl internationally wouldn't be abusive at all.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:33 AM on February 4, 2005


see also:

p0rnography, with the figures removed
posted by five dollars worth of thank you cake at 10:36 AM on February 4, 2005


Weird.

Just weird.
posted by delmoi at 10:43 AM on February 4, 2005


I figured they were concealing her identity as part of a sting op. *sigh* I'm sad.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:43 AM on February 4, 2005


I think her right not to be kidnapped and abused trumps her right to privacy in this case.




But god fucking damn. I hate this scum-sucking species.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:46 AM on February 4, 2005


Hildegarde: I don't think that's the sentiment.

They release the pictures of Amber Alert children to help identify them and speed their location all the time, EVEN IF the abductors may be suspected of sexually assault.

Releasing just the FACE of this child would not be in any way more humiliating than that of any lost child on a milk carton.

Anyone who would recognize her face from the pictures already has the real picture.

This is a case where welfare should override privacy.

I think this girl would prefer to be rescued as opposed to worrying if some guy in Belgium laughs at her.

Also, the part about not releasing the photos to not let the abuser be any more wise is total bunk.

These are apparently "well known" child pornography pictures. The abuser can damn well identify those pictures with the girl photoshopped out, as can any of the pervs that have those pictures on the hard drives.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:47 AM on February 4, 2005


Oh, I wish I hadn't looked at those empty rooms. The "ghost"-like artifacts from removing the figures are very creepy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:49 AM on February 4, 2005


I don't know how police officers can handle seeing that stuff. I know I couldn't do it.

I read a sociology book on porn written pre-internet that stated that at that time there was relatively little new child pornography being produced -- that the same old images kept getting traded and passed around. So if you heard about someone getting arrested with 500 photos, most of those were probably ones that were already in circulation. That was some sort of comfort.

Now that you don't need a darkroom or someone to develop photos for you I doubt that's the case.
posted by Atom12 at 11:18 AM on February 4, 2005


The creepiest part is, from looking at the artifacts you can sort of see what position she was in.... eeeaugh.
posted by neckro23 at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2005


I've been wondering for some time if images like these can help the police to track down the criminals behind them – whoever publishes child porn is just giving away free criminal evidence, it's all in the pictures: the victim, the crime scene and hopefully the perpetrator – but this is the first time I've heard about it. Does anyone know about perpetrators who have been caught because of their own images?
posted by Termite at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2005


But some of those pics are completely impossible to tell anything about, I guess unless someone's actually been there and that's what they're hoping for.

It doesn't suprise me that the hotel location has been found so quickly and conclusively. The maids who change the sheets, the lift manufacturers, the people who distribute those arcade machines; there will be hundreds of people who know elements of those photos inside out. It only takes a few of them to see the photographs and chip in what they know.

But yeah, very chilling.
posted by fire&wings at 11:22 AM on February 4, 2005


Termite - there was a series of documentaries on in the UK last year about Police methods of catching Paedophiles. I forget the name of the programmes but they featured a man who was caught by the examination of two photos - one which included a portion of his front gate with a distinctive sign on it, and one of the hatch to his attic. Police sent out the gate photo nationwide and it was quickly identified. The Police visited the house, and were able to view the attic, and match it to the other photo. The abuser was still living in the house where he had commited the crime many years earlier, and AFAIK he was arrested and jailed. It's a memory of those methods which prompted my earlier post.
posted by fire&wings at 11:28 AM on February 4, 2005


fenriq: The last link to the Toronto Star article requires cookies to be enabled [for that site] - otherwise they don't serve you the article.
posted by melt away at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2005


A man here in North Carolina was recently arrested and indicted for producing child porn. Some of the evidence that led to him was the identification of a girl scout uniform one of the victims was wearing in one of the photos. These same law enforcement people in Toronto seem to have been involved in it. Some news stories here and here.

May require registration. I linked to the printer-friendly pages hoping to avoid that. And it seems to work.
posted by marxchivist at 11:42 AM on February 4, 2005


Non-cookie equivalent of the Toronto Star article.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2005


five dollars worth of thank you cake: I thought of exactly the same thing.

neckro23: Yes (shudder).
posted by pmurray63 at 11:51 AM on February 4, 2005


A real reason for taking the victim out is that those photos may be childporn themselves. Releasing them might have been illegal.

Removing the victim allows for some identification of the location, without distracting the viewer with what they know to be the victim. It creates a separation that will permit examination of the photo without guilt or prejudice, and removes a main focal point.

Does it matter if the kid is removed if you're trying to ID the location. Given a where, someone can dig up a when, and hopefully a who.
posted by vevaphon at 12:02 PM on February 4, 2005


Vevaphon, you may be on to something. If the child had been left in the photo, I would not have been able to look, even with the worst details photoshopped out. Just too traumatic to see.

On the other hand, "...more than 50,000 children [that] police believe are being used for Internet pornography. So far, only about 500 of them have been identified." My god. Why not put every one of those faces into a public database, without citing what's been done to them. Have another public database of the location/perp photos, children photoshopped out. Surely together we would be able to do better than a .01 batting average.

Does it matter if the kid is removed if you're trying to ID the location. Given a where, someone can dig up a when, and hopefully a who.

With respect: it matters a hell of a lot to the child. While the authorities are having to painstakingly backtrace from the location info, there's probably dozens of people who could direct them right to that child today. While the authorities have unsuccessfully conducted the non-public search, this child has already endured two more years of abuse. How many more days, months, or years will it take to end it?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:25 PM on February 4, 2005


melt away, hmm, didn't for me but I'll take your word for it. Doesn't pretty much everyone here have the BugmeNot extension for FireFox installed by now though?
posted by fenriq at 12:29 PM on February 4, 2005


It always amuses me when spy shows and cop shows have detectives poring over computers, manipulating photos in ways that could never be done in reality, so they can identify a mysterious killer. As if they have the money to acquire super-secret technology like that.

Here, we've got cops who use photoshop, a program available to any second grader. Finally, the real thing. Good for them.
posted by fungible at 12:30 PM on February 4, 2005


Gillespie said his unit is one of the only police agencies in the world using cutting-edge technology to identify victims.

Photoshop™- The bleeding edge!
posted by eener at 12:34 PM on February 4, 2005


Just too traumatic to see.

sort of OT, but i just don't understand how people who say stuff like that are ever going to get through life.
posted by quonsar at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2005


>don't understand

Some people can absorb images of violence without being bothered by it or remembering it.

Some people don't forget what they've seen even when they wish they could. For the extreme of that range see Temple Grandin's writing about autism from personal experience. It's a continuum, and how you react depends on who you are, and how your life has changed you or not, over time. You may feel different later in your life, remember -- or you may not change.

Some of us don't like watching people being hurt, and avoid it when we can.

Some people pay to watch.

You make your choices, and get through life as the kind of person you are, however it does or does not affect you.
posted by hank at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2005


Speaking as one who has managed to "get through" and rise abuse in one's own childhood, and who has many friends who have done the same--it really takes an ass to assume that not wanting to see it done to more children is equal to weakness. Even those who've never experienced abuse personally may find it pretty hard to look at someone who could just as easily be their own child/neighbor/playmate/self in that situation. Moreover, there may well be minors who are capable of recognizing some of these locations. The point is to gather enough clues to get the child to safety, and that removing the child from the image is a valid means of exposing the location images to the widest possible audience of potential tipsters.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:52 PM on February 4, 2005


Right, because humiliating the girl internationally wouldn't be abusive at all.

I'd rather be humiliated than kidnapped and raped, repeatedly, over the course of a couple of years. I think you would, too.

Thing is, the guilty party already knows the manhunt is on. The cops must know the guilty party knows this, so why not show her face? If the public has a face, they can think about situations not in the photos where they may have encountered the kidnapper/ee. You've got a whole world of security cameras out there that may have caught them on tape, but the owners of all those convenience stores and gas stations have nothing to go on but some hotel sheets or an arcade game. Give them a face.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:53 PM on February 4, 2005


good idea on the cops' part.
any progress on this case is well worth the time some poor shlub had to spend erasing the girl...
posted by Busithoth at 1:03 PM on February 4, 2005


Vevaphon, you may be on to something. If the child had been left in the photo, I would not have been able to look, even with the worst details photoshopped out. Just too traumatic to see.

I totally agree, but for slightly different reasons. Removing the child brings the other details in to focus.

My god. Why not put every one of those faces into a public database, without citing what's been done to them. Have another public database of the location/perp photos, children photoshopped out. Surely together we would be able to do better than a .01 batting average.

How often do you think people would look at such a database? If the perp is being smart, and doesn't put his face in the photo, or doesn't have an easily identified mark (tattoo, unusual birthmark, or strange pattern of moles..), they'll still be mostly anonymous.

I'm sure the detectives have looked over the headers of the Usenet posts to catch the occasional collector and distributor.

As much as I want there to be a better "batting average," I don't think your solution would work any better than the current system.

With respect: it matters a hell of a lot to the child. While the authorities are having to painstakingly backtrace from the location info, there's probably dozens of people who could direct them right to that child today.

Many of those people may be perpetrators or contributors themselves. If she's a missing child from 3 years ago, her photo is available on line, in newspapers, and comes in the mail (In California, at least, I get a mail with a generic smiling photograph of an abducted child at least once a month, sometimes every few days. Most of these children vanished several years ago).

By going the "hard way" and finding the location through photographs and tips, they're also establishing suspects, and getting more than just the surface information. Finding these people is like gathering military intelligence. Finding the girl is just one large piece of a puzzle in building the case against the perpetrator. The police want more than the girl, nakedcodemonkey.

How many more days, months, or years will it take to end it?

As with all things involving anonymous victims, no real tangible crime scene, and no clue to the perp is.. it'll take years. Sorry, that's the nature of this process. Speeding it up does not make it more likely to find the victim, and it invites legal challenges to the evidence gathered, which can lead to the release of the perp by court.
posted by vevaphon at 1:09 PM on February 4, 2005


Chilling. This is a very interesting fpp, Doc.
posted by The God Complex at 1:12 PM on February 4, 2005


Clarification:

I am suggesting showing the girls face, ONLY her face, in a separate picture. I'm not saying use the linked photos and photoshop everything EXCEPT her face.

Come on people. Use your heads instead of tilting at windmills.

I'm talking about the same thing you see on a milk carton. You realize photoshop has a "crop" tool as well as a clone brush, yes?

The crime scene pictures are useful. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But her face, alone, would be at least as helpful if not several orders of magnitude moreso.

That is not an invasion of privacy, and even if it was, it is warranted given this girl's obvious predicament.

On preview:
The police want more than the girl, nakedcodemonkey.

Then fuck the police. You don't let the girl suffer longer to build a more air-tight case against her abuser.

The #1 concern should be rescuing that girl. Period.

Did you even read what you wrote vevaphon? Are you seriously suggesting the cops have a lead on this and are not pursuing it to build a stronger case against the abuser?
posted by Ynoxas at 1:20 PM on February 4, 2005


Atom12: I don't know how police officers can handle seeing that stuff. I know I couldn't do it.

There was a radio program (I think on the BBC World Service) about how the UK police child protection group "handled" looking at the pictures and video. They had a special room for viewing evidence. On the wall there were multiple screens for the evidence and above them they had normal television. A cricket match, a soap opera, or a film would be showing on the biggest screen. The idea being that the investigating officers never got too affected by how evil some people are and didn't get too emotionally attached to the faces in the pictures.

This was backed up by regular breaks/games and therapy sessions of course, and nobody was allowed to work alone.
posted by Maxwell at 1:36 PM on February 4, 2005


In the article linked off of waxy.org/links its states that the police aren't releasing a photo of the girls face because they fear that the abuser would kill her if they thought the police were getting close.

I'm not sure why the abuser would do that though. Killing her would not make it harder to find him once the girl is identified.
posted by jsonic at 1:39 PM on February 4, 2005


Did you even read what you wrote vevaphon? Are you seriously suggesting the cops have a lead on this and are not pursuing it to build a stronger case against the abuser?

I'm suggesting the cops have NO leads at all. If they had them, why spend the time creating this series of photos in the first place?

They released these edited photos to gain a lead. Just one location identified will help find the girl, the victimizer, and hopefully enable the setup of an operation to shut down a ring.

What you might not realize is that there are hundreds of photos of her that they know of. The samples shown are of just one series, in just one hotel. These are the ones available to the public. Not the ones that are probably in private collections, closed to non-members, and working in a system like the old Samizdat publishers.

I would assume they want a rock solid case, no matter what. I don't believe they're delaying anything, I believe they ran out of all other leads first.
posted by vevaphon at 1:41 PM on February 4, 2005


Thing is, the guilty party already knows the manhunt is on. The cops must know the guilty party knows this, so why not show her face?

In the article it states that they don't want to show her face partly because they are afraid that with that extra level of identification that the perp will just kill her.

So, where do I get my pass out of the human race and to the planet where the sane people are?
posted by jokeefe at 1:44 PM on February 4, 2005


How often do you think people would look at such a database?

This girl's photo, and the photos of the abuse locations, could have been on display for two years already. And there's 50,000 more kids just like her. People don't have to look often to make a difference in that.

"America's Most Wanted" made a difference even though it was not a top-rated show. Most of America wasn't tuning in every week. But enough did get expose to that info to make possible captures that that law enforcement couldn't do on its own.

...there's probably dozens of people who could direct them right to that child today.

Many of those people may be perpetrators or contributors themselves.

Three years. She hasn't been kept locked in a basement that whole time. They're taking her to motels. The abuser is believed to be a close relative. The likelihood is that people have seen her in cars, in hallways, on streets and in lobbies; maybe even in school and church and girl scout meetings. But that doesn't even begin to count the people who must have encountered her before all this. A child changes a lot between 9 and 12, but is still plenty recognizable.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:45 PM on February 4, 2005


This girl's photo, and the photos of the abuse locations, could have been on display for two years already. And there's 50,000 more kids just like her. People don't have to look often to make a difference in that.

I agree. Wouldn't you say this is a case of "better late than never?" Police generally don't like to go to the public due to how difficult it is to separate a good tip from a false one. These are not TV or movie police officers. Sorting information, weeding out the not-so-flagrantly unreliable bits and pieces takes time and staff. I don't know their funding, but I do know this is not easy and not cheap.

Three years. She hasn't been kept locked in a basement that whole time. They're taking her to motels. The abuser is believed to be a close relative. The likelihood is that people have seen her in cars, in hallways, on streets and in lobbies; maybe even in school and church and girl scout meetings.

And they still don't know who she is, who her abuser is, or where they actually are. Solving a crime takes at least one of those being known and unchanging.

If she has a name, she's more than a face. She has an identity, family and a good chance at being found. Especially if it's a family member.

Due to her age, she's not the person checking in to hotels, driving (or renting) the car, and so on. She's the victim, and like most (if not all) sex crime victims, she's anonymous until someone with legal custody and of sound mind gives consent to openly distribute her image.

By identifying a location, they can interview the staff who worked around the time the photos were released, and see if anyone has seen the child, and hopefully get a description of the subject.
posted by vevaphon at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2005


To those referencing "kidnappers", murder risk, or a "ring", is there a quote for that? There are a lot of photos, and they've become widely traded within the pedo underground, but it doesn't sound like this particular instance is multiple conspirators systematically abusing one kid after the next. Maybe I missed something but as far as I can tell, the police are talking about a single perpetrator, who is believed to be a close family member or else the caregiver. Yes? No?
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2005


(A quote other than the "kidnappers" ref in the FPP, that is.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:15 PM on February 4, 2005


We don't even know that she was kidnapped, nakedcodemonkey. Outside of the photos, we know nothing about the situation, and I guess that neither do the police. What the article says is that the police say there are hundreds of photos of this one girl being distributed on the Internet, and they don't know who she is or where the photos were taken.

A "ring" doesn't have to be very well organized to exist. You can be a ring of baseball card traders, just because you're exchanging cards with friends, even though there's nothing formal about it.
posted by vevaphon at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2005


I am suggesting showing the girls face, ONLY her face, in a separate picture. I'm not saying use the linked photos and photoshop everything EXCEPT her face.

How do you know that they haven't done this already? This picture could be in milk carton circulation already, with a Jane Doe name attached, and a special note in her folder in case anyone ever called.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:46 PM on February 4, 2005


Thanks for the post, Doc. I am amazed no-one thought of this before. I also half-remember that BBC documentary where by closely studying even old photos child abusers and their victims could be discovered. It is shameful that not enough effort and resources are put into studying all the photos out there - 500 out of 50,000 children identified is pathetic.

I agree that publicity of the victims faces are a good idea - but they should also closely study what they have...Only a forensic mind of the highest quality could eliminate all date/location identifiers from a photograph.

The experience of seeing the altered images was very dark indeed - the artifacts left by the process were like a scar in time. The nature of the crime means that a mind was being mutilated by experience in a moment captured for pornographic intent...

There is nothing inherently noble about man...but we knew this.
posted by The Salaryman at 3:02 PM on February 4, 2005


They probably don't want to release her face publicly due to her age or can't due to legal/privacy reasons. (They don't generally release the names or photos of rape victims for similar reasons, I believe by law they can't unless the victim chooses to go public themselves.) It would be different if she was merely a typical "missing child," but there's a lot more going on here.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:08 PM on February 4, 2005


Horrific story. But this caught my eye in the last link:

Gillespie said two phone tips naming the same hotel prompted his team to alert the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which dispatched investigators to the alleged crime scene.

Homeland Security? Couldn't this be handled by the FBI? Or are they now fully one and the same?
posted by mediareport at 3:17 PM on February 4, 2005


Homeland Security? Couldn't this be handled by the FBI? Or are they now fully one and the same?

Sorry, that information is classified.

Oh, and freaky pictures. Seriously.
posted by wah at 3:54 PM on February 4, 2005


But her face, alone, would be at least as helpful if not several orders of magnitude moreso.

And without any sense of who the perp is, who are you going to protect her from, exactly? Her entire family? Are you going to take her out of her house and put her in foster care? What if its her teacher? Are you going to take her out of school too? Exactly how much trauma do you want the police to dump on this kid?
posted by Hildegarde at 4:07 PM on February 4, 2005


i think miss lynnster's right, i think it's illegal to show a minor's photo under any circumstances without parental consent. if that's true, the law should be changed for cases such as this.
posted by Silky Slim at 4:09 PM on February 4, 2005


Despite the hotel's location, Gillespie repeated Friday that police still believe the victim lives in the northeastern United States or in southeastern Canada.
He wouldn't say what factors led them to that conclusion.

This is interesting. What would make the police believe that? Something from the other pictures that they are not showing?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:22 PM on February 4, 2005


Re: my use of the word "kidnappers". I used it in the post in a pretty general sense. I'm not saying she was tailed, hunted down, and pulled off the street; indeed, I think one of the articles suggested that a family member might be involved. No matter the situation, though, she was abducted and held, which is essentially kidnapping, isn't it?

I actually agonized over that word selection for a few minutes—"tormentors" sounded too romanticized.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 4:28 PM on February 4, 2005


Kidnapping defined. It sounds like the applicability of that would depend here on whether she's being held in a secret location or had her life threatened. Since the cops aren't using that word so far, presumably the photo evidence hasn't suggested that so far. Which would offer some hope, at least. Though if threat of violence isn't necessary it would likely be because her young age and the abuser's position of authority as relative/caregiver are such effective coercion in themselves.

I see what you mean about "torment". Hard to find a word that accurately characterizes a genuinely extreme crime, yet doesn't come off as melodramatic or sensationalizing. No easy choices.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:03 PM on February 4, 2005


Right, because humiliating the girl internationally wouldn't be abusive at all.
posted by Hildegarde


I'm sorry, but that is an idiotic thing to say.

If showing her face would catch the guy, it's a no brainer. She's going to need years of therapy anyway.
posted by justgary at 5:05 PM on February 4, 2005


I think it's absolutely shameful that they can't do this for every one of the children in these photographs, too, but to put it into perspective, the Toronto police's sex crimes unit consists of 24 officers. 24. If you really want this to happen, you need to seriously start lobbying for an increase in funding to this area of the police force in your city.
posted by purtek at 5:08 PM on February 4, 2005


Then fuck the police. You don't let the girl suffer longer to build a more air-tight case against her abuser.

I agree with this statement completely, but I guess the problem is that the guilty party might get scared and kill the victim if they think they've been found out.

I guess that's a valid concern, but damn, why release anything, then? If the police are showing the exact photos with the victim p-shop'd out, you don't think the guilty party know their own photos? Might as well put her face on a milk carton now, because they're damn-sure tipped off at this point.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:12 PM on February 4, 2005


I agree with this statement completely, but I guess the problem is that the guilty party might get scared and kill the victim if they think they've been found out.

I'm not inclined to say the kidnapper will kill her. It seems unlikely, even given the minimal information we have from the articles. My own opinion is that there are legal issues with releasing photos of the girl to the public, ones which could not be worked around any other way. I believe the author added a flare, to make it a little more "biting."

Until the girl is identified, she should remain anonymous to most of the world. Once she's found, then we - the peanut gallery - can start picking apart her life like another JonBenet Ramsey.
posted by vevaphon at 8:00 PM on February 4, 2005


These are extremely disturbing photos of very, very ambiguous, anonymous places. I wonder if this isn't just a scare tactic to frighten off all molesters, or to invite a lot of tips.
posted by xammerboy at 8:15 PM on February 4, 2005


Those pictures are going to give me nightmares. Very unsettling - "a scar in time" is all too apt.

I wonder if rendering a likeness of her with somthing like an IdentiKit would be a way around any concern regarding the ethical and legal ramifications of broadcasting her image. Make it look enough like her that it might ring a bell in the mind of a concerned neighbor or teacher, but dissimilar enough that the perp might fool himself into thinking that it "doesn't really look that much like her"?

My take is that they already had enough information from the pictures to track her location to within 30 miles of a major metropolitan area, and may have looked at criminal records, child welfare reports, etc - enough to have a number of possible suspects, but nothing specific enough to go forward on. If they can pinpoint the hotel, and narrow down the times of the stay, then they can compare billing addresses of hotel guests and see if any of them can be linked to the area. I wouldn't be suprised if the article deliberately contains misleading information about the suspected location of the victim to put the perp at ease and buy the police some time to track her down. I pray that they can find her and soon.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:44 PM on February 4, 2005


Update: The abuse appears to have taken place in a Disney theme park hotel.

How soon before theme park visitors will be photographed at the ticket booth and required to wear a photo ID?
posted by emelenjr at 3:31 PM on February 8, 2005


Amazing that someone pinned it down to a Disney place. I wonder what the detail was? I was sort of surprised that the hotel looked pretty upscale--maybe it was the furniture?

I suppose, now, they hit the hotel's books and surveillance cameras. Though, after a few years, I doubt they will get anything good.

Still--what make me wonder is that the police knew that the hotel info would be years old, but released the pics anyway. This makes me think: (i) they have nothing better to go with; or (ii) they think that a hotel's records will be good enough to help even years after the event.
posted by Mid at 5:03 PM on February 8, 2005


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