When Robert Manwill went missing Friday night, he was an eight-year-old boy in danger. Today, after several days of non-stop searching, the Idaho Statesman has revealed the circumstances that put this eight-year-old boy in danger long before he went missing.
Something about this story wasn't right from the beginning, wasn't right beyond the sense that this very young boy was missing. The reporting was vague regarding this boy's family, specifically why he was at his mother's house when he disappeared. An AMBER alert was not issued, in fact remains to be issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and a rather odd scenario was being considered by the Boise police--that Robert Manwill was/is hiding.
What could an eight-year-old be hiding from for several days? Unfortunately, quite a lot, as the Statesman story today reveals.
Robert Manwill was visiting his mother Friday night, a mother who is on probation after fracturing the skull of another of her children, an infant. Robert's infant sibling was removed from his mother. As if this alone isn't enough for an eight-year-old to have in his memory, another sibling was murdered by his father's wife (not Robert's mother), after she stabbed the four-year-old in the chest. The first incident, that of his mother's assault on his infant sibling that caused the fracturing of the infant's skull, what court documents refer to as "willfully" striking the baby's head against a hard surface, resulted in merely a misdemeanor charge of injury to a child. It does not appear that Robert's mother even served jail time for this. Apparently, the mother's boyfriend has a history of assault as well that includes a court order that prevents him from being alone with a two-year-old daughter (also belonging to Robert's mother). The only clear and appropriate charge seems to be that of Robert's father's former wife who was charged with first degree murder for the stabbing death of a four-year-old. Amazingly, the first degree murder of a four-year-old only cost this woman ten years of her life in prison.
This boy's family history is rampant with assault, abuse, and other reasons for him to hide, should that have been the cause of his disappearance initially. The Boise police say they do not have a suspect, but it is quite obvious now, since the Statesman was able to attain this information, that the police are more than aware of Melissa Scott Jenkin's history and any probability of her being involved in the disappearance of her son.
Like far too many children in this state, Robert and his siblings are proof that even the most egregious crimes against children are not as aggressively punished as they should be. It certainly is no surprise that he may have wanted to hide. He may have known that he wasn't safe in his mother's home and anything that had happened in the past was bound to happen again. After all, the state moved to protect his infant brother too late, how would now be any different?
All of the speculation surrounding an eight-year-old missing in Boise is just that, speculation. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem plausible that Robert Manwill wandered away from home and is trying to find his way back.
As the entire Boise community continues to hope and pray for Robert's safe return, a 'thank you' is in order for the countless volunteers who are out looking for Robert. Should, god forbid, the unthinkable happen, it will not be due to a lack of looking on the part of the Boise police, BSU's officers, and the community in general. It's times like these when it is truly evident what a community is made of and it appears that the entire valley is joining together to find a missing boy.
It's unfortunate that some are calling this effort a "wild goose chase" and that the Statesman has put together a "blockbuster" in their reporting. The disappearance of a child is never something to speak of offhandedly and it certainly isn't time to point fingers. These cases happen far more often than any of us care to admit. The insensitivity of some, referring to "dumping areas" is irrefutably inappropriate. Those who have lost sleep over this case and are tormented by the story should not have to read such insensitivity in alternative news sources.
Wherever Robert Manwill is, we can only hope he is safer than at home with those who have hurt him in the past.
[H/T: Treasured Valley. I am not in the habit of reading the Idaho Statesman daily, but I noticed this story first thing Monday morning via Treasured Valley and have kept a close eye on it since.]