The names are seared into our collective conscience as Iowans — Johnny Gosch, Erin Pospicil, Lyric Cook, and Elizabeth Collins. For months after their disappearances in 1982, 2001, and 2012, our hearts ached with daily reminders that they were missing. Thousands of hours were spent searching for them. News media reporting and law enforcement personnel made sure that we did not, and now years later, would not forget them.
And yet, how many of us are familiar with these names — Julian Murray, Breasia Terrell, Jamira Debose Osbourne, Jaedyn Whitbeck, and Ashtyn Hannover? These five Iowa children ages 11-17 have been reported missing in 2020 and yet their names have not been seared into our collective conscience. Their families’ hearts ache for them, but our hearts do not.
It may be simply a coincidence that four out of these five Iowa children reported missing in 2020 whose names are not widely known are biracial or Black, but national statistics bear witness to the fact that missing white children receive far more public attention than missing children of color. As a person of faith and an advocate for racial justice and equity, I want to publicly lift up the names of these five missing children in Iowa — Julian Murray, Breasia Terrell, Jamira Debose Osbourne, Jaedyn Whitbeck, and Ashtyn Hannover. Each of them have families whose hearts are aching. May our hearts ache and our voices cry out for them too.
Rev. Gary Sneller