Sunday, August 14, 2011

Behind The Scenes In Rural America

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

     I want you to step out of your back door, away from the bright lights of the big city and step into rural America -- Senath (SEE'nith), Missouri. A small town that is a nothing but a blip on the map. Surrounded by crops fields of cotton, watermelon, cantaloupe and corn, Senath is home to a consolidated school which is shared with another small town called Hornersville. Shopping consists of a Dollar General store, a locally owned and operated pharmacy, an insurance agency, and a General store. Senath State Bank is the financial institution of their town and the Postal Service is located beside City Hall. At one time, Ramey's would be the local grocery store, but met its demise in a fire not long ago. A small town park sits just off main street known as Commercial Street. A restaurant exists as well as a couple of flea markets. Two co-ops exist to help meet the demands of local cotton growers. Government housing is found on Highfill street and the majority of people are friendly southern folk who spend their past time tending the garden, supporting local school athletic teams and traveling the 9.5 miles to Kennett, Missouri, for the county fair, which is kicked off by a parade down First Street on the second Tuesday of every September. According to the 2000 Census, Senath residents totaled 2,302. Jobs are scarce in the area as most people commute to Kennett, Hayti, or Steele for jobs. Some will venture to Arkansas which is a hop, skip and jump from Senath. Rector being the closest town in Arkansas, but Paragould, Blytheville, and Jonesboro being the more likely.

     Senath is just a small town full of friendly people who are genuinely nice and help look out for each other. Over the past ten years, more out-of-towners are seen taking up homestead in this rural town. Hispanic speaking citizens are seen more often than not because of the high demand for farm work. The schools are small with a student-teacher ratio of about 9:1. Classes are small, but the hearts of the students and teachers are huge. You can see your teacher at school on Monday, at church on Wednesday and at the store on Friday -- and you better believe your parents knew if you ditched -- parents and teachers are tight like that. You never had to worry about locking your doors or letting your kids play outside. Everyone cared and watched out for each other. In the entire time that Senath has existed, no crime of any major case had occurred. Sure, people would drink, and fight, and sometimes they would drive fast... But you never worried or felt compelled to stay closed up indoors.


View Larger Map

Around the town

Senath Hornersville student signs

Ramey Supermarket as it burns


Senath High School girls perform during

Students working on assignments in
Trina Johnson's Classroom at Senath Hornersville

Snow and ice during the winter season

A major cash crop for the Bootheel of Missouri

Self Explanatory

     But the days of not locking your doors in this rural area have come and gone. On Saturday August 6, in the during the noon hour, this quiet little community would have their reality tested. Their would be tragedy gracing every doorstep, heartbreak around every corner. On this day, a little girl by the name of BreeAnn Rodriguez would disappear.

     BreeAnn Rodriguez was born January 8, 2008 to Edgar Rodriguez and Claudia Ramos. BreeAnn has an older brother whose name has not been mentioned. On Saturday, August 6, BreeAnn was riding her bike in front of her home in Senath on Ode Johnson street. This street is a dead end street and intersects only with Caneer Street. Caneer Street intersects Commercial and US Highway 412.

     BreeAnn was 3 years old. Her brother was 5, and they often rode their bikes together. On this particular day, her brother had gone indoors briefly for a drink of water and came back outside to see his sister was no where to be found. Officer Karnes of the Senath Police Department received word that BreeAnn had become missing and an all out search had began. Edgar Rodriguez told reporters that she never left her street and she never rode her bike long distances. Police began canvassing the area in hopes that she had pushed the limits or maybe she had gotten turned around and couldn't remember where she lived. The FBI, Dunklin County Sheriff's Office and other search and rescue teams searched for BreeAnn for days with no signs of her disappearance. No clues, no leads and only a vague description of a white cargo van that had been seen days prior, but had no direct connection to the disappearance. No State wide Amber Alert had been issued because she was not deemed to have been abducted, but rather, missing and endangered.

Intersection of Ode Johnson and Caneer Street in Senath, MO
     As the days coursed by, grim hope as a set of training wheels were discovered in a corn field approximately two miles south-southwest of Senath. Upon inspection of the training wheels, Edgar said without a doubt that those training wheels belonged to BreeAnn and her bike. He positively identified them due to markings that had occurred when he manipulated them to outfit BreeAnn's bike.  The hopes of finding BreeAnn alive were getting more slim by the minute as the hours turned into days.

     A candlelight vigil was held at the city park in Senath on Wednesday, August 10th as supporters came in droves to stand strong for her safe return. A Face book page was started, spreading word of the event, and at last count before the evening, more than 1,000 people had agreed to attend. the vigil. The park is two blocks down Commercial, East of Caneer St.

     Tragically, no good news would follow. On Friday morning, authorities claimed they had a suspect in custody regarding the disappearance of BreeAnn. Information slowly filtered in as supporters, prayer warriors, friends and family anxiously awaited the press conference. According to news sources:

SENATH, MO (KAIT) - According to Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff, Shawn Morgan, 43, of Senath, has been charged with first degree murder of 3-year-old Breeann Rodriguez. Morgan has also been charged with armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence.
"Morgan is charged with causing the death of Breeann Rodriguez, 3-years old, also of Senath, by suffocating her," said Sokoloff. "The charge is that he did this on August 6th, the day that she went missing."
Senath Police Chief Omar Karnes told Region 8 News shortly before 8:00 Saturday night that search efforts for Breeann's body had been called off. He said the search will continue Sunday morning.
Sokoloff told reporters in a news conference that Morgan suffocated Rodriguez. Sokoloff said it would be inappropriate to comment on the details of the investigation. Sokoloff said search crews are still looking for Rodriguez. According to a news release from the Dunklin County Sheriff's Office, authorities are searching in an undisclosed part of Dunklin County.
Police say Morgan is not related to the family. Sokoloff did not discuss whether Morgan had a criminal record. He did tell reporters, however, the Morgan lived down the street from the Rodriguez family.
The Dunklin County Major Case Squad, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the Missouri Department of Conservation have been searching for the girl for the past week.
Breeann was last seen Saturday the 6th, while riding bikes with her 5-year-old brother outside their home on Ode Johnson Road. Her brother went inside for a few minutes and came back out to find no trace of Breeann, or her pink bike with training wheels. 
    It has yet to be made public on how they new or came to the conclusion that Shawn Morgan is responsible for the disappearence of BreeAnn. More information will be posted as updates on THIS post as soon as they are made available.

    In the mean time, feel free to check out the next post, "Who is Shawn Morgan", which goes into a little history of his life and his family, and gives the authors opinion on what happened.

Until Tomorrow,

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