06 February 2009

"This was not an easy one..." 02•05•09

Elizabeth Esquivel, center, cries as she stands with her son Nicolas Garza, left, and supporter Barry Fixler, right, during a candlelight vigil in honor of her daughter Laura Garza, outside the home of Michael Mele's parent's house in the Town of Newburgh, NY on Thursday, February 5, 2009. Laura Garza is the missing NYC woman who was last seen in early December with Michael Mele at the McDonald's in Newburgh after a night of partying in a Manhattan nightclub. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

*We've had a missing person story dominating the news up here in my area for something like two months now. A beautiful 20-something woman from Brooklyn hasn't been seen since early December, when she left a NYC nightclub with a known & convicted sexual predator from the area. Bad news all around. The missing girl's family has been coming up to the area with supporters from the city to the local jail, county court, press conferences, and to witness searches by NY State Police dog tracking teams along local highways, interstates, and divers scouring local lakes and ponds, the suspects condo, the whole nine-yards. Oh yea, the guy is sitting in jail right now - tonight - on probation violations stemming from previous sexual misconduct charges, and he's not talking about this case at all. Not a peep, even though a witness puts him with the girl back in December and no one's seen her since. Anyway, today was my turn to follow the story for a bit during the family's journey back up here to Orange County, NY, and hold a brief candlelight vigil outside the parent's home of the offender.
Link to my paper's ongoing coverage of the story by clicking here.

As I think back on the evening's work, and these kind of stories I've covered through the years, the people it affects; it all remains as sort of a constant and burning reminder again of why I became a photojournalist, and take all aspects of this craft very seriously... -cg.

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