Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Two Local Must Read Pieces on the Death of Michael Kingsbury
Michael's body was located at about 5:50pm on Monday. He lay on the backseat floor of an unused/unplated vehicle parked on private property (but not fenced off from the alley). Many have asked how searchers could have missed him in the car. The answer may be as simple as he was not in the car the entire time. MPD has said that dogs tracked his scent to an unoccupied house several blocks south of his own home (he lived in the 1700 block of West Virginia Ave). So it is possible that Michael may have roamed the neighborhood for a while before returning to his home alley and finding his death in the backseat of that hot car. Presumably because the heat accelerated decomposition, the autopsy was inconclusive as to the cause of death. Nor is the time of death currently known. MPD has stated that they are awaiting the results of a tox screen.
The good news is that they found no signs of trauma on young Michael's body. MPD has not yet ruled out foul play. It isn't yet clear when, or how, he came to be in the car where he died. But an MPD officer "searched" (quotation marks, because I don't know what exactly that means) Monday morning and did not see Michael in it. I'm assuming that means the officer looked in the windows, because no one seems to know if the car was locked the entire time Michael was missing. It was locked when they found him, and they had to break out a window to reach him. Michael was still wearing his red t-shirt, and his pull-up. MPD did say that the officer who actually spotted Michael's body had a hard time initially telling for sure if he was looking at a body (dirty windows?). So, we have some answers, but not enough yet.
My concern, and the concern of many residents, is about how MPD reacted in between the time the initial call came in, and the time when Michael's body was found. I saw a great deal of this conversation play out on Twitter. The main issue is offline outreach (door to door canvassing, posting of flyers in public places, and MPD turning away neighbors who wanted to help). I was planning to write a long post on this, but I am instead going to refer you a really terrific timeline style post from the Titan of Trinidad.
I would also suggest that you read this excellent post from a local blogger (her blog is called Otters are Probably the Answer) who shares an alley with Michael's family. She writes about her personal thoughts and emotions about Michael, and his tragic death. I think she hits a lot of great points about how Michael's death has impacted many of us, even though we didn't know him. In my mind, we as a city failed Michael. He was one of the District's most vulnerable residents, and I don't think we did all we should have done to find him in time. Can we find it in ourselves to act in time to save the next Michael? I hope so.