By Cynthia Caron
At only 11 years old, young Sarah Haley Foxwell, was eagerly looking forward to Christmas. Hugs and whispers with her friends as she spoke of the neat things she would love to receive for Christmas and eagerly awaiting Christmas morn to rip the wrapping from her presents. Unfortunately, Christmas morning did not happen for Sarah. Instead, her body was recovered from a field in the Rum Ridge area of northern Wicomico about three-quarters of a mile south of the Maryland- Delaware state line. The news of Sarah's death was a shock to the more than 3,000 volunteers who put aside their own Christmas plans and gathered that morning at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in order to help search for Sarah. Her young body was discovered by police officials who will carry the horrid memory of happening upon the lifeless body of a once happy giggling child. A candlelight vigil was held the evening before.
Thomas J. Leggs, 30, lived in a building on the grounds of his parents' Salisbury, Maryland home, not far from the residence in which Sarah resided with her Aunt along with her younger sister. Her aunt is the legal guardian for both Sarah and her sister while her biological parents live out of state. Sometime on Tuesday evening, December 22, Leggs came into the home by utilizing a key that was hidden on the premises. It is stated he removed Sarah from her bedroom. This was reported the morning of December 23 when it was discovered that Sarah was missing. The evening of December 23, Leggs was arrested and charged with burglary and kidnapping in Sarah's disappearance. During his police detainment he was very uncooperative and refused to divulge what he did with Sarah. Leggs is listed on sex offender registries in both Maryland and Delaware, however, that did not prevent him from the charges of abduction and murder of sweet Sarah Haley Foxwell. Authorities will not disclose how Sarah died.
Another young life lost to a monster that we call a child sex predator.
How can parents protect their children?
· First, understand that nobody is immune from the potential tragedy of a child abducted from their family. It can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.
· I cannot stress the importance that parents need to be proactive in knowing who lives near and where their children play. When planning a purchase to buy or build a new home, the first place a parent needs to research is the registered sex offender registry site provided by the government. It is free. The following link will show you detailed information on sex offenders who reside in your neighborhood. Be sure to check this site monthly. See http://www.familywatchdog.us/
· Consider installing alarms in homes with small children. For those that may find alarms costly, check your department stores and discount stores as they carry window alarms that are very inexpensive, some as low as $2.00. Always be sure that all entry doors into your home are locked, especially at bedtime. Hang decorative door hangings in the entry way into the children's sleeping quarters. These can be bells, bamboo sticks and other noise-making items that can alert you to someone entering or exiting the child's room. (Just be sure to use these for older children. Young children and toddlers can be accidentally choked should they become entangled.) Consider a laser beam alarm across the doorway. These are also inexpensive, however, it would not do well in homes with pets that may roam from room to room. Baby monitors are extremely useful and should be used until the child is of age in which they may need their privacy.
· Another useful item is a bed alarm. These are used by parents who may have children who tend to wander, sleep walk or children prone to having seizures. They fit under the sheet and an alarm sounds when pressure is removed, such as a child is no longer resting on the mattress. These can range from $90 - $300 and can be purchased from most medical supply stores.
· Never give out information to others regarding passcodes to garage entries or hidden keys" to your home, except to family members and very trusted and perhaps to a very well known neighbor.
· Always, at all times, know who your children are associating with and NEVER allow a minor child to play and sleep over at your home without the permission of their parents. It is not up to a minor child to tell you, the adult, that they have their parents permission to spend the night. You can be charged with interference should the family of the child wish to press charges in the case of a child spending the night in your home without their parents permission.
· Make a firm family rule that computer time is always in the presence of the family. Children and teens should not have computers in their bedrooms that give them access to the internet. If you have an older teen and allow a computer in the bedroom, be sure your teen is aware that you have the right to check all their social networking sites to be sure that they are utilizing those sites properly and not at risk of divulging personal information. Teens and children need to know the importance as to why they should not divulge personal information. Make sure you have that conversation with your children.
· Always keep your children within your site, know who they are playing with and where they are at all times. Never allow solo walks, bike rides or letting children play outside alone. Predators look for "easy prey" and a child playing alone is an easy target.
While we know that we cannot be with our children 100% of each moment, we can utilize common sense and help to look out for one another. Should you see a child alone, find out where the child lives and perhaps have a talk with the parents of the child. We need to not look away and start being proactive. It's the children we want to protect even if it means having a neighbor growl at you for "being nosey." For more safety tips and ways to protect your children, please see http://www.lostnmissing.com/
15.html You'll find informative video's and eye-opening re-enactments of potential child abductions and the outcomes.
Adults need to work together towards the safety of our children. Let there be no more Sarah Haley Foxwell's who have to die by the hands of another monster. Support your local legislation in having stricter laws for child sex predators and do not stand for "slaps on the wrist" from your local judicial systems. Speak out! Our children and their lives depend on us, the adults, to keep them safe.