Life is supposed to be about progress. We should continuously learn from our mistakes and make strides to do better going forward.
Well, where does our law enforcement stand as it relates to progress? Have they done better? And more importantly, are they doing better?
Let's face it; law enforcement, those tasked with setting the standard for the law and maintaining it, are not on everyone’s favorite list.
I’ll be the first to say some necessary changes need to happen regarding law enforcement, our justice system, and how families are treated — specifically, families affected by true crime.
I can count well into the double digits the number of cases I know where families have begged and pleaded for law enforcement to prioritize their loved one’s case. To return a simple phone call or respond to an email, to follow up on leads, test evidence, etc. The one thing families beg and plead for the most is for law enforcement to help their families see the day of justice.
I used to be one of those numbers. Truthfully, I still get anxious about having to exert energy to make Georgia and her case matter the way they should. Outside of the fact that she meant (means) the world to my family, she was a 12-year-old girl who was murdered — strangled and left nude on the side of the highway. And after 25 years, her killer is still unknown.
It’s hard not to reflect on the subpar handling of Georgia's case over the years, and not lose hope in the people responsible for bringing justice. But hope is all I have. If I lose that, then ultimately, I lose. And for me, that is NOT an option.
Earlier this year, Sergeant Greg Stashyn was assigned to Georgia’s case. Stashyn is specifically assigned to work cold cases.
HAVING A COLD CASE UNIT, TEAM, OR DETECTIVE IS SOMETHING EVERY DEPARTMENT SHOULD INVEST IN.
Why? Because having a regular detective who is tasked with working on current and cold cases while not having the necessary help is not good for that detective, the department, or the families waiting to see justice...but what do I know?
Ironically, I reached out to the previous detective assigned to Georgia's case around the time Stashyn was assigned. Within a few weeks, we had our first phone call. I explained my expectations, and he outlined what he planned to do to help solve Georgia's case.
Admittedly, I went into this conversation expecting to “school him” on how to solve Georgia’s case, but to my surprise, after hearing him out, a genuine peace rested within me. I knew he at least deserved an opportunity to keep his word, including keeping me in the loop as best as he could (without compromising the case.)
Over the new few months, we had minimal communication. I wasn’t expecting anything outside of that. But what I did expect, I received.
If I had a question, within a few days, he answered it. If I had any information I thought he should know, I relayed it, and he acknowledged that he had received it.
Sometimes he reaches out just to say, hey, I’m still working on your sister’s case. Those times mean more to me than he’ll probably ever know. I know Georgia’s case isn’t his only case to work, and I understand if there is nothing new to follow up on, Georgia's case, unfortunately, is at a standstill. Like I said above, I just want Georgia’s case to be prioritized and handled in a manner that lets me know all hope is not lost in entrusting him or the department.
Recently, I was presented with the true test of trust. Some crucial information came to light in Georgia's case, and I was hesitant to reach out to Stashyn just yet. At this stage in my life, I have complete confidence in my detective skills, and I know sometimes, you need to give things time to play out. This was no doubt one of those times. I knew one misstep could set back the hands of time for progress in Georgia’s case.
After racking my brain to see if I would extend my trust, I decided to pray about it. In short, God told me to trust Stashyn. My eyes may have rolled a bit at this response. My mind and heart were definitely torn on which way to go, but I obeyed.
I reached out to him, and throughout our communications, I regretted reaching out. I wanted to crawl under a rock and cry. What I feared would happen did.
Now, I’m not going to go into specific details because this is an active investigation, and Georgia’s murderer has not been caught. But I will say that at that moment, God spoke to me. God asked me what the purpose of having faith was if I wasn’t going to trust the things He told me to do. Mic drop!
There have been plenty of times when I prayed, and the outcome of that prayer seemed to do more harm than good. But over time, I would see how God was orchestrating things for the greater good.
So, I took my feelings out of it and tried and see what God was doing.
I wanted to judge Stashyn's competency because that was the easy thing to do. Instead, I chose to ask for clarification on his actions.
After discussing everything that had transpired, I gained a new level of respect for Stashyn and confidence in him as the person working on Georgia's case. He had my best interest at heart and did what was necessary to protect me and the case. I will forever be grateful for that. And truthfully, his expertise in this matter did supersede mine...thank God.
What is the point of my sharing this?
We live in a time where in an instant, we can see the injustices done by the people who represent justice. We can forward an email, take a screenshot of several unanswered phone calls or upload a video.
While it is important to address the negative things we see taking place, we can't forget that good things are happening too.
I wanted to share that. I wanted Georgia’s case and my story to give hope to families waiting for law enforcement to do and be better.
There is always hope. Hope for change, hope for better days, hope for justice.
As I close, I want to encourage those working in law enforcement to keep those lines of communication open to families affected by true crime and, at the very least, give our loved ones the investigation they deserve. We're not asking for perfection, but we are asking for the most traumatic experiences that we'll ever go through to be given a genuine level of care, compassion, and due diligence.
Our loved ones are more than just a case number, they are people who mean the world to us. Please don't make this experience any more difficult than it already is.
Thank you, Sergeant Stashyn.
Justice IS coming!!