If you don't already know, or if you're not living in this part of the country, today, March 2nd, 2010 has been a very sad day. Chelsea King, a 17 year old teenager was found dead near Lake Hodges. Our worst fears came true this afternoon. We all held out hope that she would be found alive and well and return home to her parents. But, that didn't happen.
Chelsea went out for a run last Thursday and never returned home. Found murdered in a shallow grave. The man in custody who allegedly committed this crime is a registered sex offender who was released after a 5 year sentence when a psychiatrist that evaluated him wrote a report saying he would likely re-offend.
So, why am I writing about it? Did I know her? No, I didn't. I grew up in Rancho Penasquitos, a small community right next door to the community where Chelsea lived in Poway. I lived in Poway for many years as well. I am also a runner, like Chelsea. I used to go running around Poway Lake alone, and my boyfriend at the time would get angry and tell me "You don't know who's out there! You can't go there alone." and I would get angry. Angry that he thought I couldn't defend myself. I hated being "Just a girl" and having to "watch out for myself".
And then this happened in our very own backyard practically and struck a chord with all of us. I ache for her parents. My heart is broken for anyone that loved her and wanted nothing more than to see her finish her life. What happened to Chelsea could have happened to me. It could have happened to you. So, I'm not one to sit around and do nothing. Here's what you can do:
- Find registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. The link is for California is here. For all other states in the U.S., click here.
- Get free alerts when a sex offender moves into your area. Click here.
- Do a background check on ANYONE you think you need to, including sex offenders. This way you can find out their specific offense. It's not free, but worth the money. Click here.
- You can call or write a letter to California Congressman Brian Bilbray. Nothing fancy, just tell him what you think of the sex offender laws. Click here. You can also call or write to California State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. Click here.
- Contact your own federal and state congresspeople. Each letter/phone call is a representative of a certain number of voters. The more contacts there are from voters in their district, the more attention they will give to the issue. Click here. (Thank you Sacha for this one!)
- Take self defense classes! I might think I'm a bad-ass, but I am not match for a 200 pound man who comes up behind me with a knife. There are several in San Diego, one I found in La Jolla and another that travels to you if you can get a group of 12-20 women. How easy is that?
It burns me that I live in a place where it is unsafe for me to go out alone. Or that I feel uneasy letting my children play out of my sight. But, we have power. Do something, do ANYTHING!