Thomm Quackenbush, author


Very early this morning the body of 11 year old Carlie Brucia was found, although the exact location of the body has not been released, it can be assumed that the body was found at the Central Church of Christ. Joseph P. Smith has been charged with the murder. There are many aspects to this murder, people are angry and are looking to place blame. Most people say that Smith should never have been on the street due to his 13 prior convictions and his prior charge of kidnapping and false imprisonment that he was subsequently acquitted for. Other are blaming the fact that an Amber Alert was not immediately applied to the case and some people, albeit a few, are blaming the parents, stating that Carlie should not have been walking home from her friend's house alone, in broad daylight.

I agree that Smith has a long laundry list of convictions, mostly for drug related charges with a charge of aggravated battery thrown in for good measure. This leads me a little off topic to ask why this man was not forced into drug treatment rather than serving time in a prison where drugs are as readily available as they are on the street. If this man had been cured of his addiction, would Carlie still be alive? It's a long shot but it is a possibility that should be considered. I don't want to sound like I sympathize for this dirty child killer, because I do not. He is a horrible excuse for a human being but I am exploring the possibilities of what may have prevented Carlie from being killed. Going on the other side of the argument, why wasn't this man still in jail? On December 30, 2003, Smith violated his probation but the judge did not find him to be in violation because he states that there was no evidence that Smith willfully did not pay his fines. Wait, the fact remains, he did not pay his fines, and I was unaware that if you didn't mean to not pay your fines, then it didn't count. That would have saved me a hefty $125 fine for marijuana possession back in the day. "But Your Honor, I didn't mean to not pay my fine, it was an accident" "Okay, you are free to go". Yeah right! Maybe this would have been a different story if Smith had been a black man in his 20's or a snot nosed, freakish teenager for that matter, I have a feeling he would have been in jail.

Okay the second point being that an Amber Alert was not immediately called. I agree that it certainly should have been, but there is no evidence suggesting that it would have helped. Carlie's time of death has not been determined and until that time, no judgments can be made. Even if Smith had Carlie in his possession for an extended period before ending her life, no one can say whether or not an Amber Alert would have saved her. I do feel that Florida should learn from this case and call Amber Alerts quicker in the future. Since the Amber Alert system has been applied nation wide, many children have been found and quite quickly such as Daniel Peralta 4, Thu Nguyen 12, Amanda Mullikin-White 13, Jayton Dentler 14 months, Lorena Palma 16, sisters Michelle Reese, 13, and Kaitlyn Marie Reese, 11, and many many more. I would encourage anyone to please go to and learn more about how you can keep informed of any Amber Alerts in your area or go to AOL Keyword Amber Alert and sign up to get any Amber Alerts in your area E-mailed to you.

The third area of blame is being placed on Carlie's parents for allowing her to walk home unaccompanied. I think this is preposterous. The child was 11 years old, perfectly capable of walking herself home. We can't keep our kids locked inside for fear of kidnapping. Also please remember that kidnapping has not increased in the past few years, just media coverage of kid knapping has increased a hundred fold. This increase has a positive and negative side. It increases kids' chance of being found quickly and unharmed by plastering their faces everywhere, which is how it should be, but it also makes it seem like there is a kidnapping epidemic in this country, which there is not. While there is no epidemic, one child being kidnapped is too many.

This is obviously a terrible event and punishment for this man should be swift and severe, but I do not believe at that the death penalty should be applied. Smith has three daughters of his own and I do not feel that they should be sentenced to a life with out their father for their father's crime. It should be noted that I have never supported the death penalty in any case, save for Osama bin Laden, that man should be strung from the highest tree and beaten to death by a gang of NYC fire fighters, but I digress. I do not feel that we, as humans, have the power to decide who lives or dies. I don't see how committing another murder will provide any repentance for Carlie's brutal murder. The death penalty is murder, just look at a copy of the death certificate of anyone who was executed; the cause of death is listed as homicide.

My sympathy, along with everyone else at I am sure, goes out to all of Carlie's family and friends. We will keep her memory in hearts for a long time to come.

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