Friday, August 27, 2010

What's worse than being kidnapped and murdered?

Spending eternity as the footnote to someone else's story:

Suspects were briefly considered in the Botello slaying but those cases went nowhere — and never generated the years of controversy that the Seeman investigation produced. San Antonio police and the Texas Rangers again are actively investigating Heidi's death and have asked for help from the FBI, officials said.

The short version is that at the beginning of August 1990, an 11-year-old named Heidi Seeman was kidnapped.  In late August, a seven-year-old named Erica Botello was kidnapped.

Twenty years later, everyone is determined to find the little white girl's killer.  The other child's?  Not so much.

I was only ten or eleven myself at the time, so my memories of the case are iffy.  I do remember the overwhelming response to Seeman's disappearance, the constant calls for help, the searches, the flyers, the news coverage...

And I remember my uncle, I think, cynically remarking that the little Mexican child was not going to get nearly as much play.  To be fair, as an adult I think it's more a matter of economics than of race (I'm reminded, yet again, of Charles Barkley saying "Poor is the new black").

But the differences, even now...

How can you say “The first time I sit down and say, ‘Oh the heck with it,' then there's something wrong with me" over one murdered little girl and not over the other murdered little girl?  Why does Heidi Seeman plainly mean so much more to so many more people?  I mean, yes, plainly there are more leads in Seeman's murder...but given the reactions of everyone then and now I am forced to wonder whether the fuss over her murder led to less-than-adequate investigation of Botello's.

A little update.  It seems as though I'm not the only one asking the same questions.  From the comments section:

Why is the city haunted by one unsolved case, but not the other? Why is the reporter concerned about one case but not the other? Was Maria's life less valuable than Heidi's? Don't both equally deserve justice?

1 comment:

Dave said...

In fairness to the media (I can't believe I just wrote that), at the time I recall both cases being very much in the news. What made the Seeman case stand out was the fact that the victim was from a military family and with the number of military bases in San Antonio, the efforts to organize search parties, put out fliers and so on was much greater than the efforts of the other family. In no time, they had established the Heidi Search Center (which is still around). And by the way, many of the same people involved in the search for the Seeman's girl also assisted in the search for Erica.

More important to this story now is the fact that the Heidi case had more of an "interesting" case behind it (as sick as that sounds). The fact that a co-worker was suddenly a suspect etc etc. I genuinely believe that people remember the Seeman case less becasue the girl was white but becasue of all the media frenzy behind the bizarre storyline.

I don;t know if you have ever seen it, but on Hiway 90 just past Gen McMullen as you go toward 36th street, there is a huge banner posted on the back of a shed behind a house that says "Find Lupita Cantu". I have seen that sign for at least 20 years but it doesn't get a lot of play in the media either.