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A Decade Later, Missing Child Rilya Wilson a Lesson For Us All

November 5th, 2012   No Comments   Commentary, Court Cases

Little Rilya Wilson was born in 1996 to a homeless cocaine addict. Within two months, she was in state custody. Within a few years, she was living with Geralyn Graham and Pamela Graham (who are unrelated). By 2002, the state realized Rilya was no longer at the house. She would never been seen alive again by Florida child welfare officials. But does her lesson endure?

Rilya Wilson - Photo Credit AP

That’s the question some will ask as jury selection begins this week in the state’s case against Geralyn Graham. Rilya was living with Graham, now 66, when the child was last seen. Graham has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. She insists she’s innocent. A jury will decide.

But a decade on, what has society learned from the tale of Rilya and so many kids like her? If not for the news of Graham’s case, would any Floridians even remember Rilya’s story? Thousands of kids live in the Florida child care system. Some a treated well by loving, caring foster families. Others, suffer lives and fates unknown. We owe them better than that.

Rilya’s name is an acronym for “remember I love you always.” We may never learn Rilya’s true fate. But we should always remember their needs and support their rights to safe, loving lives.

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