GUEST TRIAL: Remembering Jaliek Rainwalker | Chroniclers
This summer, a little glossy advertising flyer arrived in my mailbox in Rochester. I was about to throw it in the recycling bin when I noticed a familiar face on the back cover: Jaliek L. Rainwalker.
Jaliek went missing 14 years ago this month, November 1, 2007, from a home in Greenwich, Washington County, where he lived with his adoptive parents Stephen Kerr and Jocelyn McDonald.
I grew up in Washington County, but I was already living in Rochester when Jaliek went missing. I remember it well because my mother was a teacher at the old Jaliek elementary school, Salem Washington Academy, near Greenwich.
Although she never had Jaliek in her class, the school is small and my mother, Dawn Miner, met her when her second grade class was adjacent to hers.
âHe was a very sweet and loving little boy,â Miner said when I asked him recently to describe Jaliek. “He was a little calm, but he had a lovely smile and was just a very nice kid.”
This smiling child was 12 when he disappeared and is 26 today, but you wouldn’t know from the photos in the flyer that was delivered to my home this summer.
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One of those photos is the official age photo of Jaliek from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It shows what Jaliek would look like at 14 – two years after his disappearance.
When I first noticed the lack of a current photo of the progression of the age, it shocked me for the obvious reason: if Jaliek is still alive, it would be difficult for someone who did not know him before to identify him on the basis of a photo.
Unfortunately, Jaliek is not believed to be alive. In 2012, authorities changed the case of a missing child to probable child homicide. They also named Kerr a âperson of interestâ in the case in 2008.
So the case of Jaliek, which is still open, exists in limbo – a missing child who would now be a man – but someone has refused this natural progression of life. Who is this someone? And, where is Jaliek?
The good news in this heart-wrenching case is that there are a lot of people who continue to demand answers to these questions. I was recently welcomed into the “Justice for Jaliek Rainwalker” Facebook group, which is a vibrant community of over 3,000 people who work hard to keep Jaliek’s case in the public eye and under the noses of the military. ‘order.
The very active group was founded two years ago in part by Jessica VonGuinness of Saratoga Springs and is led by six like-minded directors. None of them knew Jaliek personally, but they are all determined to keep his memory alive and work for justice in his case.
âEvery day I am overwhelmed with a bittersweet optimism of the number of people who have not forgotten Jaliek,â said VonGuinness. “It’s too bad we’re here in the first place, but the band did a really good job keeping Jaliek first.”
They have partnered with the College of Saint Rose’s Cold Case Analysis Center, which provides training and experience for students in investigating and analyzing unresolved cases while building relationships with community agencies and contributing insights. resources to local law enforcement agencies to deal with cases like Jaliek’s.
The center, which is headed by Dr Christina Lane, is seeking donations to help deepen the analysis of evidence in cold cases through modern forensic science innovations. Any money donated in Jaliek’s name that is not used for testing in his particular case will eventually go to an exchange in his name.
âWe have a great relationship with the center and communicate with them regularly,â said VonGuinness. âOur group is an intermediary and we welcome all tips and all people. “
Many members of Justice for Jaliek Rainwalker did not know him personally, but many did. They include several members of his biological family, which VonGuinness notes “loves him very much”, foster siblings from the homes where Jaliek lived before he was adopted, former teachers, former classmates and campmates, neighbors, his karate teacher and his drama teacher.
Among those who are not members of Justice for Jaliek: Kerr and McDonald, his adoptive parents.
If you have any information regarding Jaliek, please call the Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department at 518-677-3044, the FBI at 518-465-7551 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 .
To learn more about the College of Saint Rose’s Cold Case Analysis Center, visit https://coldcase.strose.edu/. To join the Justice for Jaliek Facebook group, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/795042551292211.
Caurie Putnam of Brockport, freelance writer and former Rochester columnist Democrat and Chronicle, grew up in Washington County. The writer’s mother is a teacher who knew Jaliek Rainwalker, and this is the first time her mother has said anything in public about her.