A community rallies for a little lost girl

July 11, 2007 

The Fourth of July disappearance of 12-year-old Zina Linnik from the alley behind her home has gripped the South Sound community in a way few other events in recent years have done.

Our hearts go out to the girl’s family, immigrants from Ukraine who came to this country in part for the better life it promised for their children. At this writing, there was still hope for finding the girl alive. But that hope fades with each passing day, and it’s been almost a week since Zina vanished.

A child being snatched while playing near her own home is every parent’s worst nightmare, feeding fears about letting youngsters out of sight for even a few minutes.

Although child abductions by strangers are rare, even the small chance it could happen is enough for many parents to prefer their kids stay in front of the television set rather than spend carefree hours playing outside.

The Hilltop community where the Linniks live has rallied admirably for the family. Residents have distributed thousands of fliers seeking information and have helped with search efforts. Teachers and staff at Zina’s school, McCarver Elementary, have gone door to door to talk to people. These are the neighbors and friends any family would want at such a traumatic time.

The fact that the apparent abduction took place on the Hilltop is no reflection on the neighborhood. Other high-profile crimes involving children have taken place in recent years in Lakewood, the South End, the North End and the outskirts of Fircrest. If anything, the Hilltop neighborhood has been able to respond strongly because it is more organized and connected than many others. This is a strength built in past battles against drugs and gangs.

The Hilltop has been something of a dumping ground for registered sex offenders, thanks to the state Department of Corrections, but there’s no indication at this point that one of them was involved in Zina’s abduction.

For the Linniks’ sake, we hope this ordeal ends soon with their daughter’s safe return.

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