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COMMUNITY VOICE: ‘No justice, no peace:’ The unjust treatment

By Mel Whitlock

On Aug. 3, 2013 Alexis Murphy, a 17-year-old high school senior from Nelson County, failed to return home from a scheduled hair appointment in nearby Lynchburg. 

Captain of her high school volleyball team, Alexis also worked in Charlottesville at a children’s center. 

An attractive young lady whose pictures display a person full of life, I began to question. In light of the discovery of three young women being held captive for 11 years in Cleveland, Ohio, I was hopeful that the national media would have at least issued an ‘Amber Alert’ for Alexis. 


Not national worthy

Locally, Alexis has been on most, if not all, news stations surrounding our region on a daily basis. In particular, WSET 13 of Lynchburg and NBC 29 of Charlottesville have given 24-hour news coverage surrounding the disappearance of Alexis Murphy. Locally, the news media has treated the case with the necessary attention it deserves; however, nationally, Alexis Murphy’s disappearance failed to make any headlines for the major networks. 

Using several search engines, I scrolled the Internet to see what national news organization mentioned Alexis Murphy as a missing person, and I could not find even a secondary story related to the disappearance of the Nelson County teen. 

HLN did air her story on Aug. 11.

How does our national news neglect to mention that a teenage black girl, in rural Virginia, who is a high school senior, is missing for more than a week? 

On the heels of the tragic circumstances surrounding the three young women who were held captive by Ariel Castro for more than 11 years, I am still surprised that a picture of Alexis Murphy has not even been placed on the national news through an Amber Alert. I am skeptical that it is because her name is “Alexis” and not “Hannah” that causes such a disinterest by those on the national media scene.

Hannah Anderson, the same age as Alexis, has been making national headlines since her disappearance from her mother’s California home a few weeks ago. Hannah’s mother and younger brother were both killed by Hannah’s abductor; however, Hannah was found safe with her abductor before he was killed. 

I do not call to question the need to nationally cover the story of Hannah Anderson. After all, the national coverage is what ultimately led to the rescue of the California teen; however, I am calling to question why Alexis Murphy did not even make a single news feed on the major networks. 

Maybe I am naïve enough to believe that putting Alexis Murphy’s face on the national news, in the same manner that Hannah Anderson’s face had been placed on the national news, could have spared the life of both teenage girls, and not just one. 

Here is an example of some headlines from the major media networks that made national headlines over Alexis Murphy missing in Virginia:

Fox News

Hannah Anderson, kidnapped girl from California, rescued from her abductor

 County offers permit for a lemonade stand that was shut down


 Sanjay Gupta changing his position on marijuana

 Skinny dippers warned of biting fish

 Hannah Anderson rescued from abductor


 Baby cannot be named ‘Messiah’ judge rules

 NYPD stop and frisk needs oversight

 Hannah’s grandma ‘it’s fitting that the kidnapper was killed’

Not even the black news outlets have actively engaged the missing person case of Alexis Murphy, as it had done with more “racially” based crimes of high profile content. 

Considering that Hannah Anderson was discovered hundreds of miles from California, in the mountains of Idaho, only because a horseback rider recognized her picture on the national news station, I believe Alexis Murphy’s outcome could have possibly been similar had she received even some national attention through the media. 


Silence of the ‘self-ordained’

What troubles me more than the lack of national coverage surrounding the disappearance of Alexis Murphy is the inaction of the more “vocal” pastors in our communities regarding her disappearance. 

Known for their “demands of justice” after George Zimmerman’s acquittal of murdering Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, many of these local pastors stood on courthouse steps, organized marches in the streets, held rallies and held news conferences to express their displeasure with the outcome of the Zimmerman trial that had no impact on any policy or laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Not one time can I recall hearing of these same pastors or self-ordained leaders addressing the public about providing any leads on the whereabouts of Alexis Murphy. 

I cannot recall any of these same “pastors for social justice” organizing a search unit to find out where Alexis Murphy may be located. 

How one can ask for an assembly to march for justice over a case in Florida but be silent on assembling to find a missing teen locally is beyond me.   

Needless to say, I find it deplorable of any person locally, who has gotten before the television cameras within the past months to demand for justice over a case in Florida, but have failed to offer any visible support to the hurting family of Alexis Murphy in Lovingston. 

Will the family of Alexis Murphy receive a phone call from the president as the Martin family did when their son was murdered or Jason Collins received when he came out of the closet? Unlikely! 


The one good of this tragic situation

As a community and a region, despite the silence of opportunistic voices of racial justice, I have seen Central Virginia come together for the sake of this young lady. 

Black and white, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, young and old: all have expressed a real desire to reunite Alexis Murphy home with her mother and bring whoever caused her disappearance to justice. 

In light of such tragedy or adversity, I have come to find that, individually or collectively, we learn who our real friends are through difficult times. 

Please keep praying for a miracle and praying for the Murphy and Brown family.