As many of you know, Janteyl Johnson's story was recently featured on The Vanished Podcast, a weekly show that covers cases of missing kids and adults from around the country. If you're not familiar with it, I encourage you to check it out. The show's executive producer and host, Marissa Jones, does an outstanding job shedding light on cases that don't get media coverage. Marissa tells me that Janteyl's story has been one the most popular she's featured on her show so far. I'm not surprised given that not many people know about Janteyl Johnson.
As I've stated in the past, Janteyl's disappearance did not generate the kind of media attention that other high-profile cases have received such as those of Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, and most recently Elizabeth Thomas, the Tennessee 15-year-old allegedly kidnapped by her 50-year-old teacher.
Many people posted comments after the podcast aired. One of those comments stood out. A person who goes by the name "Gina" wonders why I didn't mention the name of the alleged father of Janteyl's baby. "Gina" also had this to say about Janteyl's family:
First, as far as releasing the name of the man alleged to be the father of Janteyl's baby, let's not forget that New Castle County Police have not identified any suspects in her disappearance. At this point it remains an open missing person case. Even though this individual was questioned and considered an investigative lead, no charges have been filed against anyone.
As far as the Johnson family, just like other families of missing children, they too are dealing with the nightmare of not knowing what happened to their daughter and grandchild. Keep in mind, seven years have passed with no answers. This family was out there in the middle of winter searching for their daughter when she vanished, and that's when they really needed the media's help. Anyone who's ever covered a missing person's case or has watched America's Most Wanted or any other similar show, knows very well that the first few hours are the most critical when a child disappears. It's during those first hours that the media's role is crucial to get information out to the public. The reality is that the more time that goes by the more difficult these cases are to solve.
Also, let's not forget the fact that missing black and Hispanic kids are often not covered by the media. That's a reality. Many experts have addressed this issue including the Black and Missing Foundation and the co-founder of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, John Walsh.
Just because Janteyl's story didn't air daily on the nightly news doesn't mean her family wasn't out there looking for her, and it certainly doesn't mean they're not out there now still hoping and praying for their daughter's safe return. The Johnsons did speak to the one and only media outlet who acknowledged their existence at the time. And more recently they've allowed our crew to document their heartbreaking journey.
To say: "Did they forget, this is not about them?" is harsh. The Johnsons know very well the pain and torture of having their child ripped away from them because they live this nightmare daily, and they're incredibly grateful to those who have, over the years, stepped up to help them keep Janteyl's story in the public eye.
After Janteyl's story aired on The Vanished Podcast, her mom, Kyma Johnson, sent me an email stating her gratitude for showing interest in her daughter's case. She also explained her sadness and frustration with how they've been criticized by some for not knowing how to navigate the system to keep their story out there. Some people, she says, have even made them feel like they didn't do enough to prevent their daughter's disappearance. Can you imagine? The only people who should be blamed are those who know what happened to Janteyl and are refusing to come forward.
So to conclude this post, how about we keep the focus on encouraging people to contact authorities if they have information about Janteyl's whereabouts? The Johnsons are victims of a cruel and twisted reality that no family should ever have to endure. Let's try putting ourselves in their shoes. Call the New Castle County Police at 302-573-2800 or 1-800-THE LOST