It has been a three long years. On Friday, November 4th, 2011, seventeen year old Alina Fitzpatrick stepped into the darkness and never returned.
According to her obituary she was last seen around 10 pm that evening. Various reports say a friend dropped her off at an apartment complex near NW 24th St. and Western Ave. on the near north west side of Oklahoma City. Shortly afterward her cell phone was turned off and calls were routed directly to her voice mail. At least one accounting of the events says she never made it to the apartment she was intending to visit.
Other reports assert that in the days prior to her disappearance she told friends and family she had become frightened of a, "suspicious," man. If the teenager knew his name she kept it to herself, although she did tell people she suspected he'd found out her cell phone number. The situation was apparently disturbing enough that she went to the trouble of having it changed.
News stories said she had attended Putnam City North High School, but switched to the Putnam City Virtual High School home schooling program because of bullying. A Putnam City School District spokesperson was quick to issue a statement claiming the system showed no record of her being bullied.
For her parents, alarm bells began ringing almost immediately after she went missing. According to them she had never disappeared without a word like that before. Flyers were posted in the area she was last seen in. A web site, helpfindalina.com was quickly put together to facilitate tips to her whereabouts. Other appeals for help and information were posted on facebook.
On November 9th a man and his mother went to check on family property in far eastern Oklahoma City near the intersection of NE 50th and Anderson Road. What they found there was the nude body of a young white girl. It didn't take long for it to be identified as the remains of Alina Fitzpatrick.
Besides being found naked, reports indicated she had suffered what looked to be blunt force trauma to the head, plus cuts and abrasions to her face and body. In addition police said there were remnants of what appeared to be a gag in her mouth made of, "paper, or a cotton like substance."
Despite the obvious signs of foul play police refused to rule her death as a homicide until they received the medical examiner's autopsy report. Three years to the day after she disappeared they still haven't.
When the ME's report did come in it showed she had methamphetamine in her system--possibly enough to kill her. In conclusion the Medical Examiner called the circumstances of her death, "suspicious." In that awful moment you could almost hear detectives slamming file cabinet drawers shut.
When questioned about the case on the 20th of January, 2012, Oklahoma City Police spokesperson, Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow told a reporter, the case wasn't considered a homicide, but police were keeping an open file on it.
That assessment of the situation hit a raw never somewhere, because nine days later, OKCPD Captain, Dexter Nelson told the press, "Homicide is just a legal term that gives us grounds to prosecute someone. We are still investigating it as a suspicious death. You investigate them the same way." He went on to say none of the obvious wounds suffered by Ms. Fitzpatrick were serious enough in themselves to cause her death. He also told a reporter, "She was with people who were involved in illegal behavior at the time, no doubt." He finished by saying detectives needed help from the public in order to solve the case. The department has yet to get the break it asked for that day.
Nelson spoke to the press on the 29th of January, 2012. It was pretty much the last time anyone in the mainstream media has mentioned the death of Alina Fitzpatrick.
News stories about her disappearance and death still exist on the internet simply because once something is there it never goes away, at least not until the almighty electrical grid collapses. Almost everything you find about her though was written in either late 2011, or early 2012. The world, it would seem, has moved on. There are new outrages, fresh bodies, and more calamity to talk about.
Her funeral was held on November 22, 2011. According to the online obituary she had wanted to go to the University of Central Oklahoma to study nursing. It also mentions she was buried in a hand made casket built and blessed by the Benedictine monks of New Melleray Abbey in Iowa. One set of grandparents lived here, the other in Siberia. Her mother called her Alineichka.
Saying her murder is tragic is an understatement. Believing the police did everything they could is, honestly, nothing more than a hopeful fantasy.
In the end, to paraphrase John Donne, any person's death diminishes us.
Yes it does. And, ultimately, we are lessened even more by both forgetting the death of Alina Fitzpatrick and the crime which caused it.
A Person, or persons out there killed her. They need to pay the price for committing the heinous act. Finding those beasts is the very least we can do--not just for her parents, but, Alina herself.
Donne famously wrote the bell has tolled. If you listen carefully to the echoes, even three years after she was killed, you'll realize, when it comes to Alina Fitzpatrick, it has, as the poet also said, tolled for us too.
sic vita est