The Tragic Death Of Missing Mother Tomitka Jurnett-Stewart Must Finally Call Us To National Action

Source: Jacob Wackerhausen / Getty

Family, loved ones, co-workers and community members in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are mourning the loss of 41-year-old Tomitka Jurnett-Stewart. The mother of 10’s tragic story is a heartbreaking chapter in the long, brutal book about missing and murdered Black women and girls—and all the inaction and silence from those charged to protect and speak out.

But Tomitka Jurnett-Stewart was found dead in the trunk of her car on April 17th. She’d been reported missing by her son, Lawrence Lejon-Jurnett, two days earlier on April 15th, reported USA Today. But the alert asking for the public’s help in finding Jurnett-Stewart wasn’t sent out immediately. The reason for that is unknown. Instead, it was issued on April 17th, at 10:30. Roughly 90 minutes later, Tomitka Jurnett-Stewart lifeless body was found , according to local radio station, WTMJ. 

Black women and girls are seven percent of the total U.S. population but 36 percent of all missing females 

Investigators and family members believe that Jurnett-Stewart’s death was domestic violence related. Indeed, the alert about her had labeled the mother as critically missing. A 41-year-old man has been taken into custody in connection to the incident. 

“You’re never supposed to hurt a woman,” Lawrence told WBLT 3 during a tearful vigil held for his mother outside of her home on April 18th. 

“If I could say something to my momma right now, I would say that, ‘I love you and I care about you, mom, and I want you back. I don’t want you to be gone and away from us.’”

Lawrence added, “I never would have thought that I would have to go to the police station and fill out a missing report out.”

 

The suspect, still unidentified, may have been in a long-term relationship with Jurnett-Stewart 

“This incident is Domestic Violence related,” Milwaukee police told USA Today. “Charges are pending review by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.”

Jurnett-Stewart was last seen near her home on Sunday. Her father, Tommy Jurnett, painfully recounted the last time he saw his daughter, which was on Thanksgiving. Tommy helped his grandson, Lawrence, locate Jurnett-Stewart. He reportedly called his daughter’s husband as well, only to learn that he too hadn’t seen or heard from her, USA Today noted. 

Looking ahead, Tommy anticipates his daughter’s final resting place to be in Milwaukee. However, mindful of her roots, the family plans to hold a commemorative ceremony in Tennessee, where she shared cherished memories with numerous cousins during her upbringing.

Her dedication to improving her life and the lives of those around her was evident in everything she did

“They’re all in pain, hurt, and teary-eyed,” he said.

Jurnett-Stewart was an assistant district manager at Jersey Mikes. Her co-workers created a GoFundMe campaign to help support her funeral and burial costs. An employee who attended Thursday’s vigil described the mother as the “best general manager” and “one of the most genuine people.”

The campaign praised the late matriarch for her strength, dedication, and kindness. As of April 25, Jurnett-Stewart’s GoFundMe has garnered over $1000 in donations but is still short of its $10,000 goal.

“Her dedication to improving her life and the lives of those around her was evident in everything she did. Tomitka’s work ethic, leadership, and generosity left a lasting impact on all who knew her,” the page stated.

 

More must be done to protect Black women and girls

A 2022 investigative analysis conducted by the National Crime Information Center, found that while Black women and girls constitute approximately seven percent of the total U.S. population, they make up a staggering 36 percent of all missing females in the country.

Why is there not more of a national outcry about these numbers in a nation that can obsess for years about the tragedy occurring to one white woman or girl?

In September 2023, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar and New Jersey Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the Brittany Clardy Act. The bill aims to establish a dedicated office within the Department of Justice specifically focused on addressing the cases of missing and murdered Black women and girls. At this writing, it has not moved through the legislature

Brittney Clardy, 18, was hammered to death by 25-year-old Alberto Palmer in February of 2013. Family and close friends of Clardy said that she left her home in St. Paul on Feb. 11, 2013, but never returned. When they contacted the police, their concerns were “brushed” off. Two weeks later, the teen was found dead in the trunk of her car.

In 2014, Alberto Palmer, 25, was sentenced to 40 years in prison after he admitted to killing Clardy and 24-year-old Klaressa Cook, according to The Star Tribune. The Woodbury native was also accused of raping and brutally beating three other women in the state of Georgia.

One of the questions that consistently arises in cases of missing Black women and girls is about the law enforcement’s diligence, respect–and response time in these terrible cases.  Widely accepted and repeated guidance from law enforcement is that the initial 24 to 48 hours following a person’s disappearance are vital in locating the victim–alive.  As emphasized by Word In Black, the timeframe is crucial because it allows authorities to swiftly gather evidence, pursue leads and identify potential witnesses, all of which help in finding women perhaps terribly harmed but still breathing. 

Author Zach Sommers noted in his study, “Missing White Woman Syndrome: An Empirical Analysis of Race and Gender Disparities in Online News Coverage of Missing Persons,” that there is still a significant discrepancy in the representation of missing Black individuals across different demographics. Despite Black people constituting nearly 40 percent of all missing persons cases, they are deeply underrepresented in media coverage.

White women and girls whose population in the US dwarfs that of Black women and girls, and whose missing persons cases are nevertheless a smaller percentage of all missing persons cases, are provided more than half of all missing persons media coverage. 

See Also:

White Man Pleads Not Guilty To Mutilating And Murdering Sade Robinson

Missing Black Women And Girls Foundation Head Discusses The Crisis.  


The post The Tragic Death Of Missing Mother Tomitka Jurnett-Stewart Must Finally Call Us To National Action appeared first on NewsOne.

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