Don’t let memories of missing children fade

Maybe it’s the idea of the universe coming through on some seemingly impossible justice; it’s supremely satisfying to see a child’s killer nailed many years after the crime.

Last week, 57-year-old Stanley Guidroz was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the 1983 death of his 2-year-old son, Wallace. Investigators say Guidroz has admitted to hitting and killing the toddler in a Fife apartment, then concocting a story about the child disappearing in Point Defiance Park.

Guidroz was a person of interest after Wallace vanished, but there was no body or other hard evidence. Then dad disappeared. Tacoma cold case detective Gene Miller caught up with him three years ago in Louisiana after he’d been arrested for murdering his wife. Whatever happens with the manslaughter charge, Guidroz won’t be going far: He’s now serving a life sentence.

Every time police break an old and seemingly hopeless case, it tells criminals they can never be quite sure of escaping justice. It can also stop a perpetrator who – like Guidroz – remains a danger to others.

Ordinary citizens often provide tips that help detectives solve these mysteries. As years go by, witnesses disperse and physical evidence becomes more elusive. Information from the public becomes increasingly important.

After more than 30 years, we now know what happened to little Wallace. Detectives continue to look for many others who’ve gone missing in the South Sound. Crime Stoppers offers one-stop shopping (www.tpcrimestoppers.com) for current information on many unsolved crimes and missing people. The Tacoma Police Department’s website has information on disappearances dating back to 1961.

We can’t cover all of them in this space, but here are several cases involving young children:

• Teekah Lewis of Tacoma vanished from the New Frontier Lanes on Center Street in January 1999. She was 2. She was last seen playing near the video games. (The bowling alley has since been razed and replaced by a fast food restaurant.)

• Lenoria Jones of Tacoma, then 3, was reported missing by her great-aunt Bearlean Williams at the city’s Target store on July 20, 1995 – but no one outside the family had seen her for the previous four days.

• Misty Copsey, then 14, went missing in September 1992 after spending the day at the Puyallup Fair. Articles of clothing linked to her were found near state Route 410 the following February.

Many years may pass, but cases like these do not lose their urgency. The disappearance of children, especially, leaves families in a state of unending anxiety and dread.

They shouldn’t be forgotten. Technology is putting ever-more-powerful tools in the hands of cold case investigators; sometimes all they need is an old memory or photograph volunteered by a citizen.

As the Wallace Guidroz case demonstrates, it’s never too late to stop looking.