On Thursday night, nine-year-old Willie Myrick got to meet and sing with a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer during a church event because he had been a kidnap victim earlier this month. Myrick had been abducted from his southwest Atlanta home on March 31, and the smart child had begun singing the spiritual song written by Hezekiah Walker called "Every Praise" until the kidnapper just let him go.
On April 18, First Coast News reported that it may have been the child's love of gospel music that saved his life that day, as the kidnapper finally couldn't stand to hear it anymore, with the child stating "He opened the door and threw me out. He told me not to tell anyone."
It is a heartwarming story about how faith proves to be a true salvation in the end for someone in a dire situation. And how a celebrity singer chooses to honor that faith by leaving his New York residence in order to make an appearance with the child at a local Baptist church in the boy's home state of Georgia. But what led to Willie's abduction--and the fact the kidnap suspect is still on the loose--may be uppermost in the public's mind right now, since their child could be a victim next.
Willie told police that he was abducted when he went outside his home in order to retrieve a tool following the cleaning of his dog's cage. While outdoors he happened to see some money lying on the ground near a tree in the front yard. He went to pick it up and that is when the male, who appeared to be in his 20s, grabbed the young boy and put him in his gray four-door Honda Civic.
The suspect was wearing Khaki shorts and a white T-shirt sporting a Nike log, according to an April 3 AJC report, and he also had a tattoo on one of his biceps.
Child kidnappers use a variety of ruses to lure children near enough to them and their car physically so that they can abduct them from their home or other settings. And in this case it may or may not have been with the money Willie saw under a nearby tree. But it was the boy's defensive mechanism of singing a gospel song that appears to have stayed a criminal from harming him physically, at least that's what the Christian folks at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church believe.
And that's one of the reasons why the Mt. Carmel congregation let Willie tell them and their children the story of his kidnapping on Thursday night, and to let him sing the song he sang during his abduction--this time with the man who wrote the song, instead of the boy's kidnapper. Another reason is that the church hopes Willie's story will serve to help other children know what to do in the event they are kidnapped.
Taking measures to prevent an abduction is also important, especially during the spring and summer months, when children are more susceptible to be away from the watchful eyes of school teachers and others. Internet sites like KidsHealth.org shares strategies to help parents prevent abduction of their children, so hopefully no parent has to experience what Myrick's family did when he was abducted this year.
Atlanta police are still searching for the suspect who took Willie Myrick, even though he didn't harm the child. And that's because he could end up harming someone else's child, and they need to know what caused him to take the boy in the first place. So if you know of someone who fits the GBI sketch of the suspect shown in the photo above, especially if they drive a gray Honda Civic (or have access to one), please contact the Atlanta Police Department at (404) 614-6544 and report it.
The Atlanta Top News Examiner Radell Smith has a degree in criminal justice and behavioral forensics.