Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
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Marsharie Lemons-Garrett (pictured), a 22-year-old Florida woman whose clothes were found in a wooded area, has been found safe after almost three weeks.
Police in Palm Bay, Fla., are still unsure of how Lemons-Garrett was able to avoid being found despite intensive searches.
According to police, Lemons-Garrett was found draped in a white sheet sitting in the middle of the road in the town of Malabar.
“She was found to be covered with ant bites,” Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department told Florida Today. “She was taken to Palm Bay Hospital for evaluation. Palm Bay detectives went to the hospital to interview her.” The website writes:
Robert Horner was out walking his Siberian Husky Arie and his cat Oreo on Briar Creek Boulevard in Malabar, when he spotted what he described as a strange sight about 100 yards away. “I thought it was a white box sitting in the middle of the road. I wondered what it was and then I saw it move,” Horner said.
“I walked up and there she was, covered with a white sheet over her head, but I could see her eyes. I asked her, Are you OK,’ and I heard her whisper, I’m OK. I asked, Can I do anything for you, and she didn’t answer,” said Horner, who then headed back home and called 9-1-1 to report the sight. I didn’t know what was really going on. Her eyes were sparkling from the street light. It was odd, but I was kind of curious.”
Lemons-Garrett wandered away from Horner but was later found by sheriff deputies trying to hide in a wooded path.
Police are at a loss as to how the 22-year-old survived despite the intense heat, floods, and tropical storms over the last few weeks. Police are unsure if Lemons-Garrett was able to find shelter or spent the entire time outdoors. In addition to the ant bites, Lemons-Garrett was suffering from exposure. Marsha Muhammad said she last saw her daughter at their Palm Bay home.
For weeks, patrol officers used all-terrain vehicles and police dogs to search the heavily wooded area near her home. Aerial patrols by the Brevard County Sheriff’s helicopter and the police department’s paraglider were also made over the thick canopy of woods along the Turkey Creek Sanctuary.
“She was dehydrated and covered with insect bites but she’s otherwise in good condition,” Martinez told The Huffington Post. “She’s not talking very much. She said she ate berries and drank creek water, which is rankish [sic] water. It’s amazing that she did not get sick.”
It’s great to see the actions of the community who came together to search for Lemmons-Garrett. Horner who probed the young woman and then followed up with police also deserves praise. And let’s not forget the deputy who hiked through the woods to find her.
Martinez says Lemons-Garrett was taken to a hospital for evaluation and will also be evaluated by mental health professionals afterward.