The remains of this precious baby have indeed been identified as Riley Ann Sawyers, and both her mother and stepfather have been convicted of murder and are serving life sentences. The island where her tiny body washed ashore has been renamed "Riley's Island".
Remains in North Carolina have been identified as Zahra Baker, a precious ten-year old murdered, after having battled loss of a leg to cancer and hearing loss.
Beautiful, innocent four-year old Emma Thompson died a horrible death, having been sexually assaulted, infected with genital Herpes by her mother's boyfriend, being beaten and abused, suffering a lacerated pancreas and a fractured skull. Her killer got life in prison, while her mother was sentenced to twenty years for failure to protect her child.
Teketria Buggs, or "Teeky Bug", as she was affectionately known, was only twelve when she was stabbed to death and dumped in the Brazos river by her stepfather.
I will not give the names of the perpetrators of these unimaginable crimes here; they DO NOT MATTER. The victims matter. The murderers do not deserve any more press. These beautiful, precious innocent children are only a fraction of those who are killed every day by the people they trusted with their lives. Baby Grace is just one of them, and I chose to tell her story long ago because she touched my and so many other's heart. She still does. There are too many victims to even begin to list, but I hope they know they are never forgotten. I still believe they must be in Heaven, if there is one. There must be for these children. The alternative is unthinkable, for they have already experienced hell here on Earth.
Baby Grace now has a name - Riley Ann Sawyers. The beaten body of a precious 2-year old girl found just off a desolate island in Galveston Bay has been tentatively identified, pending final DNA results, as Riley Ann Sawyers from Spring, Texas. Her mother and boyfriend have confessed to her torture and murder, according to the latest news release. If you can stomach it, go here for the rest of the latest news update.
This baby will not see another Christmas, another birthday, nor another nightmare perpetrated upon her by those she most trusted and likely loved with all her young heart. As a late Thanksgiving prayer, I give thanks to the dedicated law enforcement personnel and talented forensic sketch artist that made possible the tip that apparently came from Riley's grandmother in Ohio who identified these sketches as her granddaughter.
God be with the family members who will no longer have Riley in their lives, to hold, to cherish, to protect as she deserved to be. While little Riley is surely in a better place now, I cannot imagine a Hell that is, well, Hellish enough for the mother and her boyfriend, if this is truly of their doing (although it doesn't get much more watertight than a confession).
The Texas-based search team, Equusearch, vowed to help in the identification and swift justice needed in this case, as they have in so many others. A member of Equusearch crafted a cross by hand, and placed it in the spot where Baby Grace was found. He said that he looked forward to engraving the cross with her real name, once known, and was optimistic that would soon be forthcoming. He was right. Now her real name can be put on that cross that marked the end of her journey in a watery grave.
This story has touched so many people, on such a large scale, that I hope some good comes out of it. If just one mother gives an extra hug to her child tonight, if one life is saved by someone who recognizes themselves or someone they love in similar circumstances and acts to stop the violence and suffering, then Riley's undeserved and untimely end will not have been in vain.
If you choose to view this video of "Amazing Grace" by the incomparable Mahalia Jackson, as I hope you will, I hope you will also say a little prayer for Riley. This is the song that says it all, and I will forevermore think of Baby Grace when I hear it now. I know that she is in Heaven singing with the angels now, and how sweet the sound. God rest her soul.