December 20th, 2006 13:00 EST
Honoring Two Young Heroes
On a snowy day last December, 10-year-old Adre’anna Jackson left for school in Lakewood, Washington. She never came home. If not for two brave, persistent classmates, police might never have learned her tragic fate. Now, we hope you will help, too, by providing information that might solve the case.
The disappearance. Adre’anna went to school the morning of December 2, 2005, but classes were cancelled because of the snow. We don’t know what happened to her after that. Her parents reported her missing later that day, and police immediately launched a massive effort to find her. Officers scoured the neighborhood, knocked on every door, combed through parks. We helped canvas the neighborhood, searched a nearby lake using sonar equipment, and had our analysts review potential leads. No luck.
The discovery. On April 4, 2006—four months later—two of her classmates were playing in an overgrown vacant lot about two miles from where Adre’anna lived. Domonique Eason and Manny Peters, both 9, were looking for snakes but found sorrow instead: human bones scattered in the underbrush.
The boys did the responsible thing: they ran to find an adult. The first one they met, though, didn’t believe them. Undaunted—and with an inkling that the bones might be their missing classmate’s—they trouped to a nearby apartment complex and pleaded with the manager to call the police. The manager agreed.
Police soon arrived on the scene and confirmed that the bones were human. At the request of local authorities, we sent in our Evidence Response Team to help gather and document clues. We found a vast crime scene: about 10 acres of thick blackberry brambles, trees, and shrubs. One patch had been cleared and had been used as a transient camp and garbage dump. For nine days, we pored over the field with our partners, collecting hundreds of pieces of evidence.
Meanwhile a local medical examiner used dental records from the remains to conclude that the boys had indeed found Adre’anna. Mystery solved, at least partially. We still don’t know how she died, but we’re treating it as a homicide.
You may be able to help. We urge you to read this Seeking Information flier about Adre’anna’s death and to contact our Seattle field office with any tips or information. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for her death.
And the boys? We couldn’t let their courage go unrewarded. In a June ceremony, Seattle Special Agent in Charge Laura Laughlin presented both with an award from the FBI Director for “Exceptional Service in the Public Interest.” The boys were also honored by Lakewood Police Chief Larry Saunders.
“That one act of civic duty by Domonique and Manny provided immeasurable help to the investigation,” Laughlin said. “It’s all the more remarkable because we now know that several others, all adults, knew the bones were in the field but didn’t report it. These boys are true heroes.”
Agreed. By stepping forward to help find a missing classmate, when some adults wouldn’t listen or act, they taught us all a valuable lesson.