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A case for curtailing rights
The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal ^ | 3 September 2003 | David Waters

Posted on 09/03/2003 7:09:33 AM PDT by Maigrey

A case for curtailing Rights
By David Waters
waters@gomemphis.com
September 3, 2003


Seven-year-old Tyra Knox disappeared without a trace on a Saturday afternoon.

Well, not quite without a trace.

She was last seen playing with a pink scooter in front of a house right across the street from her house. She was reported missing about 40 minutes later.

Her body was found two days later in that same house right across the street from her house.

Two days later.

Right across the street from her house.

Right in front of the spot where she was last seen.

The predator arrested and charged with her abduction and murder once lived in that same house right across the street.

In 1999 he was arrested at that same house after a caller claimed he was holding an underage female in a shed behind the house.

In 2000 he was arrested at that same house after a woman claimed he was holding her underage daughter in a shed behind the house.

Police searched Tyra's Frayser neighborhood for nearly two days. They used a police helicopter. They used all-terrain vehicles. They used bloodhounds. About 100 neighborhood volunteers joined the search.

Just about everyone was looking for Tyra. But no one searched the house right across the street.

The house Tyra was playing in front of when she was last seen.

The house where police twice arrested a man who was with underage girls.

How is that possible?

Officers knocked on the door, got no answer and left.

"These police cannot walk up to a house and search a house just because they think it's a good idea," state prosecutor Jerry Harris explained.

How about if a child disappears right in front of it?

I'm not blaming the police. Lord knows they are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, and the bucket brigades on Union Avenue won't change that.

But when a child disappears on her own street police ought to be able to search each and every house, shed, garage, car and trash can on that street as soon as possible, with or without permission.

If the law doesn't allow it the law should be changed.

If Tyra's abductor had put her in a car and police were giving chase they would have broken every traffic law in the books to rescue her. If necessary they would have used deadly force.

And no one from John Ashcroft to Johnnie Cochran would have complained.

When a child disappears we need more than the Amber Alert that tells the public a child is missing.

We need more than Megan's laws that closely track and monitor sexual predators.

When a child disappears we need to give police the authority to search every reasonable location nearby.

Call it Tyra's Law.

"Tyra had a good life," her cousin, Terry Alexander, told a reporter at Tyra's funeral.

"She had a good day that day but what happened was you have an evil presence. Evil is always lurking."

Sometimes it's right across the street.

Contact columnist David Waters at 529-2399 or E-mail waters@gomemphis.com.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS:
Hmmm so this journalist wants us to throw out the 4th Amendment, when it's "For the children".

I loathe the piece of trash that did this to this child, but saying that the police can search without probable cause, and without due process is outrageous!

Maybe, instead of being such a loathsome kneejerk socialist, maybe he could suggest how this can be handled better, and for the real benefit of the kids involved, as well as maintaining the Amendments.

1 posted on 09/03/2003 7:09:33 AM PDT by Maigrey
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To: Cordova Belle; GailA
I thought you might be interested in reading this from the local "Religion" writer.
2 posted on 09/03/2003 7:10:12 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Maigrey
Agree. This suggestion is over the top.
3 posted on 09/03/2003 7:13:30 AM PDT by sauropod ("How do you know he's a king?" "Because he doesn't have sh*t all over him.")
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To: Maigrey
In this case, it seems to me that the past history of the house in question was enough for probable cause.
4 posted on 09/03/2003 7:16:54 AM PDT by tx_eggman
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To: Maigrey
I think what the writer is saying is that there WAS probable cause here. The house was where the girl was last seen AND the resident of the house had two prior arrests for holding underage girls there.
5 posted on 09/03/2003 7:17:35 AM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: Maigrey
Maybe if the cops had done their job, (going before a magistrate, explaining the perps record, and getting a search warrant), the child might have been found.

Instead, they wore their typical 'cop blinders' and moved on.

L

6 posted on 09/03/2003 7:21:18 AM PDT by Lurker ("First get the facts right. Later on you can distort them any way you please." Mark Twain)
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To: Maigrey
Kind of a scary proposition, unless of course it was my child who was missing. Then I would not give a hoot about the 4th Amendment...
7 posted on 09/03/2003 7:26:56 AM PDT by trebb
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To: Maigrey
Robert Bolt, "A Man For All Seasons," dialogue between Sir Thomas More and William Roper over the whether or not the protection of the law should extend to evil:

"Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."

There's a reason for the Fourth Amendment. Some people aren't smart enough to know what that reason is. Some of those people, sadly enough, are hired to write for newspapers.
8 posted on 09/03/2003 7:35:08 AM PDT by Steely Glint ("Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable..." - G. Orwell)
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To: Maigrey
The parents didn't know how to kick in a front door?
9 posted on 09/03/2003 7:36:05 AM PDT by per loin
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To: Lurker
I got annoyed the longer I read the article, and fired off a letter to the editor.

In regards to David Waters' column dated 03 Spetember 2003, (A case of curtailing rights) I find his reactions over the top and a little out of line with the current laws that are on the books within the state and nation.

Last time I checked, there is the little issue with the 4th amendment, which states that

"...right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I cry over the death of Tyra Knox, like the rest of the community, but instead of writing that the police should ignore the 4th amendment, because it is "for the children", there could be a better evaluation by those who were involved to see where there was a breakdown in communications between the community and the police involved, and see how this process can be streamlined, or amended, where people can search in a more effective manner.

I would hope that instead of spouting ineffective reactions to the horrible death of one so young, Mr. Waters would work to evaluate what did go wrong, and assist the local authorities in devising a solution so that no other children or their families will have to suffer the actions of one so vile. I would hope that the death of Miss Knox will not be in vain. Signed,

(Maigrey)

10 posted on 09/03/2003 7:44:31 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Steely Glint
Thanks for posting that!
11 posted on 09/03/2003 7:50:04 AM PDT by Eala (There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. --Burke)
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To: Maigrey
As much as I hate to think about how children are treated by society's sickos I hate the idea of throwing out Constitutional rights more.

If we did away with our rights every time a child or adult was preyed on by the animals that walk our streets we'd have no rights at all.

There is NEVER a time when Constitutional rights can be curtailed without unforeseen consequences. The writer (probably liberal) who is so quick to curtail our rights should wonder what would happen to children if we had no rights at all, and left the Socialists in charge.

It's interesting that the writer, who is so quick to do away with Constitutional rights, never mentioned applying existing law to this case. The man was arrested twice before in cases involving children that would make a search of his home probable cause and they could enter it with a warrant. So why wasn't existing law applied? Why is the writer so quick to jump to throw out the Constitution?
12 posted on 09/03/2003 7:51:00 AM PDT by Noachian (Legislation Without Representation Is Tyranny)
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To: per loin
Why did the parents let her play in front of his house? Where were they?
13 posted on 09/03/2003 7:54:56 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: GovernmentShrinker; Maigrey
Hmmm so this journalist wants us to throw out the 4th Amendment, when it's "For the children"......Maigrey

I think what the writer is saying is that there WAS probable cause here. The house was where the girl was last seen AND the resident of the house had two prior arrests for holding underage girls there......GovernmentShrinker

Exactly.

Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated....

This case is not about "throwing out the Fourth Amendment". It is about the meaning of the word "unreasonable.

If we took a time machine and presented this case to the Founding Fathers, which one of them would have considered searching the home of a known child molestor for a missing child that disappeared right in front of the child molestor's home as "unreasonable"?

Over the course of two centuries, activist Judges have perverted the meaning of the Constitution and it's Amedments into meanings that were never intended by the writers of that document.

Thus, American society has reached a point where it is now "unreasonable" to search a known child molestor's property for a missing child that was last seen in the street in front of that property but it is perfectly reasonable and even a Consitutional right to suck out an infant's brain just before it comes out of the mother's birth canal.

"Reasonable". In the days of the Founding Fathers, that word had meaning. It seems that it no longer has any.

14 posted on 09/03/2003 8:01:11 AM PDT by Polybius
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To: Maigrey
It's called a "search warrant". Look into it.
15 posted on 09/03/2003 8:07:57 AM PDT by Imal (The World According to Imal: http://imal.blogspot.com)
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To: Maigrey
Waters is the captive ignorant buffoon of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis who is assigned to write about religion, but is terminally committed to rendering uninformed opinions on subjects within his view but beyond his purview.

He proves his ignorance of the Constitution, the Bible, or moral principle almost every time he emits one of these rants, and he has done that again here. Of course, his proposal would require amending the Constitution to remove one of our most precious liberties, but Waters has never let that stand in his way.

I used to write letters of protest to the paper, but they will publish only one letter a month. Waters is offensive at least once every week.
16 posted on 09/03/2003 8:08:16 AM PDT by MainFrame65
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To: Maigrey
Hmmm, this creep's background should have been enough to get a search warrant. Let the courts battle it out later whether it was proper, but save the girl first.
17 posted on 09/03/2003 8:09:54 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Noachian
First of all, you are correct. The writer is a liberal for a liberal paper in a liberal town. (if you go to my profile page, you can see how I define living here!)

The issues here revolve around how the case was handled in the early hours following her abduction. The person who was eventually arrested and charged for her death did not live at the residence where she was found, but lived there previously. The residence in question was vacant, and had upkeep by the landlord by a caretaker, giving the impression that the residence was still occupied. So, the police, operating under the assumption that the residence was occupied, knocked on the door, and when they did not get a response, looked elsewhere.

The immediate community thought it was an abduction and tried to get police to issue an Amber alert for her, where the local media along with the state-wide authorities could begin looking for her. (and with that, there needs to be a car involved, which there wasn't at the time.)

Eventually, (2 days later) the caretaker came to the residence to check on it, and smelled something coming from the residence. That is when she was found.

The parents are up in arms that the police didn't break every law on the book to look for their little girl, and the community is wondering where the communications breakdown occurred. (at least by the police.)

Had the people of the community informed the police that there was some arrests made at the residence previously, they could have made it enough for a search warrent for the residence, and maybe made a difference.

I too am saddened over the loss of such a innocent child to such a vile creature, but if the current laws on the books are not enough for the law enforcement to do their job, and the people in the community wish to ignore the Constitution, then the real problems will begin to surface and there will be no rights for the kids who are still alive.

I'd rather fix the problem at hand, and save a child further down the line, than trample the current laws on the books "for the children" and lose so much more.

18 posted on 09/03/2003 8:10:04 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: per loin
Perhaps they had no knowledge of the perp's background.
19 posted on 09/03/2003 8:10:47 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Polybius
The side issue here, and I am not discounting what you wrote, is that the person who was eventually arrested and charged for her death did not live there any more. (He had moved almost 6 months prior.) so the issue of "what is reasonable" is thrown out. I'd rather keep the matter a strict intpretation and follow the laws that are on the books than have some officer try and decide what is reasonable.

I would have prefered the people who lived within sight of the residence said, "Hey, there was a guy who used to live there who was arrested for keeping a child there." This could be the reasonable evidence for a search of the property. Alas, this was never the case, and the police had to use the methods they had.

20 posted on 09/03/2003 8:15:53 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Imal
Wrong! They didn't have the reasonable evidence at the time to search the property, and didn't discover her remains until 2 days later when the caretaker of the property came and found her.

The issue here is why there was no search warrent issued for the residence, if there were prior arrests made there? The police made a reasonable effort immediately to find the child, and did not have the information at the time that the residence was vacant. Time was of the essence, and they went to search other residences and areas.

And, if you read the article at all, you would have read that the writer of the article was espousing trampling the 4th amendment because it's "for the children." This is a horrible reason for breaking the laws that are on the books.

21 posted on 09/03/2003 8:22:00 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Maigrey
You are all missing the obvious lesson of this case.

This man should have been executed the first time he kidnapped a child. Or the second time.

Failing that, the decent citizens on his street should have formed a committee of vigilance, sworn themselves to secrecy, and shot him dead on a suitable night.

-ccm

22 posted on 09/03/2003 8:31:12 AM PDT by ccmay
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To: Maigrey
But when a child disappears on her own street police ought to be able to search each and every house, shed, garage, car and trash can on that street as soon as possible, with or without permission. If the law doesn't allow it the law should be changed.

I bet tomorrow this guy will be writing a column critical of the Patriot Act and will be completely oblivious of the irony.

23 posted on 09/03/2003 8:34:04 AM PDT by dirtboy (www.ArmorforCongress.com - because lawyers with a clue are rarer than truth-telling Democrats)
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To: ccmay
Oh, believe you me, I see the point, and had it been a child I knew, the perp wouldn't be sitting in 201 Poplar (the local lock-up) on suicide watch.

The locals here are more interested in "what's for the children" rather than protecting them.

24 posted on 09/03/2003 8:40:30 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Maigrey
Hmmm so this journalist wants us to throw out the 4th Amendment, when it's "For the children".

Im confused, the article states that the predator used to live in that same house. Does that mean someone else is living there, or is it vacant? If its vacant then the police dont have to worry about probably cause. If someone else is living there, the circumstances and past history should have been enough to get warrant nevermind probable cause.

I think the real gripe should not be against the law, but the law enforcers. It looks like the police knocked on the door, got no answer, filed the necessary paperwork, and then left to get more donuts.

And i guarantee that this whiney liberal is the type of person who thinks prisoners ought to be "Rehabilitated". With this mans past history, he should have been behind bars, or an institution with no hope of getting out of. Some people cannot be "rehabilitated"

25 posted on 09/03/2003 8:43:11 AM PDT by chudogg
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To: chudogg
The perp lived there until 6 months prior, and the residence was occupied until 1 month before. The question arose in that the residence was maintained, and the police erred on the side of caution. This is one time where their caution was not followed-up on.

I think that the police should be able to access the public records of the residences (and it's also in downtown, about 2 blocks away, and 2 blocks from the courthouse!) and be able to streamline the investigations to getting a search warrent.

Sadly, the local politicians will scream for more laws on the books rather than evaluate and repair the ones currently enforced.

And I guarantee that this whiney liberal is the type of person who thinks prisoners ought to be "Rehabilitated". With this mans past history, he should have been behind bars, or an institution with no hope of getting out of. Some people cannot be "rehabilitated"

Ditto!

26 posted on 09/03/2003 8:51:57 AM PDT by Maigrey (Keepin' Tags and lots o' Hugs for Sara Grace and Logan)
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To: Maigrey
Um, I think you meant to respond to someone else's post. Either that, or you really misread mine.
27 posted on 09/03/2003 9:13:10 AM PDT by Imal (The World According to Imal: http://imal.blogspot.com)
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To: chudogg
If someone else is living there, the circumstances and past history should have been enough to get warrant nevermind probable cause.

First, it takes the probable cause to obtain the warrant. 2nd, if the perp from 6 months ago doesn't still reside in the house in question, you assume anyone else that takes up residence in this house is suspicious? That's downright bizzare! You occupy this dwelling so you must be guilty! Beam me up! Blackbird.

28 posted on 09/03/2003 9:28:21 AM PDT by BlackbirdSST
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To: BlackbirdSST
The girl disappeared right in front of the house and the house was used on two prior occasions as a place two abduct girls by the perpetrator. The police should have checked the area even if anyone else took up residence (which no one did). That doesn't mean they are guilty. Searching an area and proclaiming guilt are two very different things.

The police could have checked the area with probably cause (i.e. without warrant) or could have streamlined a warrant to check the area (as any Judge would do).

My point was that current laws need to be enforced, privacy protection laws do not need to be curtailed.

29 posted on 09/03/2003 10:52:22 AM PDT by chudogg
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To: Maigrey
This sounds like the joke about the guy that was looking for his wallet under a lamp post. An onlooker asked "Is this where you lost it?" and he says "No, but the light is better over here."

Property owners pay taxes. Tax bills are sent to the owners and not necessarily to the property. The local tax assessor can identify the owner quickly from the address. Not asking the owner for permission to search, which in this case the owner would probably have granted, is negligence.

If I lost a small child, I would want to know that she was not at the bottom of any neighbor's swimming pool immediately, while there might still be time to resuscitate her. If I had been the parent in this case, I would have been conducting my own search independent of the police. And they probably wouldn't like it.

If a law-abiding homeowner simply told me to beat it, that the kid was not there, that is one thing. But to ignore a house for three days is incompetence on the part of the police and the parents.

30 posted on 09/03/2003 11:01:24 AM PDT by William Tell
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To: William Tell
After a 10 days in limbo, The (Memphis) Commerical Appeal finally printed my letter. (I found it online, and not in print.) Here's the cleaned up version of the letter.

Protect the Fourth Amendment


In regards to David Waters's Sept. 3 Faith Matters column ("A case for curtailing rights"), I find his reactions to the death of Tyra Knox over the top and a little out of line with current laws.

(The body of 7-year-old Tyra was discovered in an empty house across the street from the child's Frayser home on Aug. 25, two days after she disappeared while playing on the sidewalk. A former neighbor has been charged with first-degree murder in Tyra's death.)

Last time I checked, there is little issue with the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I cry over the death of Tyra Knox, like the rest of the community, but instead of writing that the police should ignore the Fourth Amendment, because it is "for the children," there could be a better evaluation by those who were involved to see where there was a breakdown in communications between the community and the police, and see how this process can be streamlined, or amended, where people can search in a more effective manner.

I would hope that instead of spouting ineffective reactions to the horrible death of one so young, Mr. Waters would work to evaluate what did go wrong, and assist the local authorities in devising a solution so that no other children or their families will have to suffer the actions of one so vile. I would hope that this death will not be in vain.

(Maigrey)
Memphis

31 posted on 09/14/2003 11:44:22 AM PDT by Maigrey (Logan for Pinup of the Year!)
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