March 29, 2009

8-year-old Tracy girl vanishes Friday...And why are we first hearing about it on Sunday?

Sandra Cantu of Tracy has been missing since Friday. She's 8 years old.

And why is the greater public finally learning about this on Sunday? She's been missing since Friday, after she disappeared from the mobile home park in Tracy where her family lives.

She had checked in at home Friday afternoon. She was last seen sometime that afternoon, anywhere from 2:30 to 4 p.m., according to different news reports.

She was supposed to pop in to visit a friend. She apparently never made it to the friend's home.

Sandra lives in the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park on West Clover Road in Tracy, with her mother, siblings, and grandparents.

"There are few clues to explain Sandra's disappearance, the San Francisco Chronicle says. "The little girl did not express any desire to run away, her aunt said, and is close to her mother, Maria Chavez, 41. She attends Jacobson Elementary School and shares a mobile home with her mother, three older siblings and grandparents in a mobile home park full of friendly kids."

She didn't return home for dinner. Her family apparently looked for her. When they couldn't find her by 8 p.m., they summoned police.

Apparently, the police mounted a search that included "hundreds of search-and-rescue personnel combing the rural area, along with crowds of just folks eager to help," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

And the FBI has apparently been involved in the search since Friday.

Did I miss something Saturday or this morning? While I was listening to local news radio stations, scanning news websites, or even surfing TV news networks, I saw no mention of Sandra Cantu's disappearance until this afternoon.

And, having covered a few other missing kids' casing in my time, especially involving kids of this age, this sort of disappearance is usually headline news news within hours of the kids going missing. Police say those first few hours are critical in helping to find a missing child. So, with this two-day delay in making this headline news outside of Tracy, I'm wondering what's going on.

I see that Fox News finally reported it Sunday. My goodness, Fox News usually gets pretty excited by any news of a child abduction, and tends to report updates on these cases, however minor, 24/7, until the child is found--alive or dead.

Do I wonder if there is some ethnic or class bias on the part of law enforcement and media in this case? Yes, I'm afraid I do. Hispanic girl living in a trailer park. I also realize that there may be other factors surrounding this case that aren't being made public--that would explain the reason for the delay in making a big deal out of this. Issues in her family, their several-hour delay in reporting her missing, or initial leads the police received that convinced them she be safe.

If anyone wants to tell me I'm wrong in wondering about the two-day delay in making this story a big deal, you know how to reach me.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox. Police are asking anybody with information to call the Tracy Police Department at (209) 831-6847. For urgent tips, people should call (209) 831-4550. Tips can also be phoned in to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.


Anonymous said...

SoccerMom- I heard something about this on Sat, but it was just a quick blurb somewhere on the news. Definitely not the huge Amber Alert you see all over the TV, internet, etc. I was wondering the same thing though, why hasn't this been a bigger deal?!

Anonymous said...

Why aren't we asking the Tracy PD and the media?

Anonymous said...

Really, do we want to know the answer? She's a little Latin girl from a trailer park in Tracy.

Anonymous said...

I also learned this morning, there is not an Amber Alert without a car involved (License plate #, make, model, etc)

Anonymous said...

Aren't Amber Alerts for gone missing children that have been identified as being abducted?

Sandra is missing, but they don't know if she's been abducted.

I looked at the Amber Alert website. The only current listing is little white girl Haleigh Cummings from Florida.