When I said Friday that I’d be writing on the Tynesha Stewart story again, I didn’t expect it to be so soon. Last night, though, the sheriff’s office announced that there will not be a search for her remains after all (CNN):
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — A 19-year-old Texas A&M University student was killed by her ex-boyfriend, who then dismembered and burned her body on a patio grill, authorities said Saturday.
Thomas said he knew, but could not disclose, that there were no body parts to find. He said investigators were unable to release that information to the public or to Stewart’s family because of the investigation. Stewart’s family has since been advised, and understands why there will be no search, Thomas said.
Even the most superficial contemplation of the details makes me ill.
No matter how understanding Tynesha Stewart’s family may be about the search now, there’ll be no peace for them. And that would have been true if a massive search had taken place with no results, too.
So why did her family have to go through all this? How did we end up with such a circus of misinformation, and positions advanced and retracted? I think it’s partly the result of how the confession was obtained, and who was involved.
Activist Quanell X has frequently drawn criticism for his confrontational manner and relentless self-promotion, usually in front of television cameras.
But detectives and volunteers helping in the search for a missing Texas A&M University student say he deserves much praise for drawing a confession on Wednesday from Timothy Wayne Shepherd, which led to murder charges in Tynesha Stewart’s disappearance.
Quanell X figures in many Houston-area stories when a member of the black community is the victim, but he’s an extremely controversial person in this area for his involvement with the accused, as well. He’s drawn fire from local bloggers many times, for both his association with the New Black Panther Party, and his symbiotic relationship with the local press.
It’s the second of these, I think, that blew this situation into a fiasco — because the point of contact this time (as it often is) was the press.
The role he’s filling, though — a go-between for law enforcement and accused criminals — speaks to the distrust between the legal establishment and the black community. In spite of his often divisive — even racist — rhetoric, he’s often trusted where the police are not.
And in this tragic tale, that underlying distrust and suspicion blew up in everyone’s faces.
I doubt that this is the end of the story. There may very well be more back and forth, accusations and retractions and disclosures and hostility — although I hope not. Tynesha Stewart’s family has suffered enough without the added emotional burdens of this historically-rooted apprehension.
There should be no need for a Quanell X, and the media shouldn’t have to be part of the law enforcement process. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s that this broken bridge needs fixing.