In previous posts, I have covered how Naomi Jones’s investigation was bungled; how the ECSO refused to do a missing person report when Gavin Clarke’s mom attempted to get help in her son’s disappearance; how so many children have been discarded because the ECSO failed to do their jobs. This story is more than that. When children go missing, there MUST be trust in law enforcement by the community. However, the distrust in this case is well earned by the ECSO.
The case I am speaking of is Jada McNeal. She went missing in December of 2015. This case has been mishandled by the ECSO since day one. The original missing persons report was “lost” apparently by the agency without anyone as much as attempting to look into the disappearance. She was labeled a chronic runaway.
Three months later, when Jada’s grandmother contacted the ECSO, she was told no report was done in December, so she proceeded to file one right then. However, since Jada had been gone so long, the ECSO considered the case “cold” and used that as an excuse to do virtually nothing. Sometime soon after a lead came to the ECSO that the young girl was in a sex trafficking ring that ran from Louisiana to Las Vegas.
Until May of this year, nothing has transpired in this case, or so it appeared when the family did a press conference to refresh interest in the case. In typical Morgan fashion, Sir David held his own press conference lashing out at the family for doing such a thing. The investigator assigned to the case was promptly demoted for not making Sir David aware of the family’s press conference prior to it happening.
Skip ahead 2 months, I got a call from a colleague in the media who received a lead on Jada’s case. My colleague’s source claimed that a lead came to the ECSO about an inmate in Miami/Dade County jail that had told investigators there that he had information on Jada being trafficked throughout the state of Florida and the last time he had seen her she was alive. The authorities in Miami contacted the ECSO and spoke to Mike Gilmore head of investigations. Gilmore told him the ECSO was not interested in sending anyone down to speak to this guy who had apparently been arrested in connection with sexual crimes. The authorities in Miami were shocked that the ECSO wasn’t interested in at least hearing what this man had to say. But that wasn’t the end of it. Mike Gilmore called Miami back later and made a request for the original statement this inmate made regarding Jada. Gilmore’s request for the “original” documentation concerned the authorities in Miami and they refused to send any original documentation to the ECSO. Chatter on LEOAffairs.com reflects this corroborating the story I was told
I was stunned by this news. If I had a child missing and I found out even one lead–no matter how far fetched–wasn’t followed up on, I would have someone’s head on a pike. I proceeded pass along this information to a member of the ECSO admin who has attempted to convince myself and colleagues of his interest in correcting the problematic issues within the ECSO. I was apprehensive about this because anyone associated with this agency who either sees the issues of cutthroat behavior towards the employees not to mention the detrimental effect on the community this agency has built up or is there but unaware of these issues, wouldn’t typically get any benefit of the doubt from me. The list of casualties of this agency to the people within it and the community will take years to rehabilitate. I simply don’t know that it can be rehabilitated with the administration in place particularly Eric Haines and David Morgan.
Without any real options, I took a leap of faith and told this one person in a position of authority about the lead I got. He said he would look into it and keep me posted. In the meantime, my colleague I received the original tip from contacted me to tell me that her source clarified that the ECSO received this tip 2 years ago and failed to follow up. This tip sat–unfollowed–in a file for 2 years. I lost my mind. Statistically, the chances of finding this little girl alive are exponentially less every day; in the last two years, the lack of give a shit by the ECSO very likely cost this little girl’s life or depleted the chances of finding her to NIL.
The person at the ECSO I confided this tip in with the hopes of helping this little girl corroborated that this tip was indeed two years old and unfollowed up on. He refused to assign blame but promised to properly handle this lead ASAP. Since then, 3 trips to areas around the Southeast have been made running down this lead. A few names have been given and they are being run down–2 years too late–but possibly to some end.
My heart has been broken by this story. I was put into contact with members of the family via Cindy Martin, an advocate in the black community who contacted me about doing stories about crimes against people of color that have been inadequately handled and less sufficiently covered by any media. For example, James Beasley who contacted Pensacola PD about someone who was tried to kill him, only to be shot dead two hours after they refused to assist him. Or Devin Kennedy of Pensacola who was killed in Seminole, Alabama with neither the Pensacola PD, ESCO or the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office investigating the crime.
How is it possible in this day and age that these things can happen? The fact they almost exclusively happen to minorities adds a level of perception of rampant racism or indifference to those socio-economically below the threshold of most politicians level of sight.
Getting back to Jada, if anyone has any information on this little girl at anytime since December 2015, please contact Milton Search & Rescue’s Steve Williams. He seems to be the only one seriously investigating for this family.