Twelve-year-old Jaliek was last seen at a home belonging to his adoptive father's parents in the 10 block of Hill Street in Greenwich, New York on November 1, 2007. His adoptive father, Stephen Burrell Kerr, spent the night alone in the house with him. Jaliek disappeared during the night and has never been heard from again.
Kerr says he woke up the next morning and, at 7:30 a.m., found a note Jaliek left behind. It read: "Dear everybody, I'm sorry for everything. I won't be a bother anymore. Goodbye, Jaliek." Kerr reported his son missing at 8:57 a.m. He is not believed to have been carrying any cash or credit cards when he went missing.
Jaliek had been living with his adoptive parents, Kerr and his wife, Jocelyn A. McDonald for five years by 2007. He was born addicted to crack cocaine and spent his early childhood in six different foster homes. His parents stated that Jaliek had violent temper tantrums and his four siblings were afraid of him. His former foster parents, Jodi and Larry Schoen (who cared for him for four years) confirmed this, stating that his outbursts could last up to an hour.
The Schoens described Jaliek as a very intelligent, but very troubled child. The Schoens had originally planned to adopt him, but after he attacked their daughter when he was seven years old, they decided that he could no longer stay in their home and he went to live with Kerr and McDonald (who have three biological sons and one adopted daughter). The children ranged in age from 8 to 14 years old at the time of Jaliek's disappearance.
Jaliek's adoptive family lead a non-traditional lifestyle at the time of his disappearance. Their home in rural Washington County, New York had no running water, the toilets are outhouses, its only electricity comes from a generator that runs for several hours during the day and everyone slept in one room. The family stated they lived this way because it was better for the environment. His family still owns the home, but in 2008, they moved to West Rupert, Vermont.
Kerr and McDonald stated that Jaliek was both suicidal and homicidal at the time of his disappearance, but he was not taking any psychiatric drugs for his mental conditions and he hadn't been receiving psychotherapy either. On October 23, 2007, a little over a week prior to Jaliek's disappearance, Kerr called a crisis hotline and said that Jaliek was unmanageable and he had threatened a small child in his homeschool group. McDonald was afraid of Jaliek and no longer wanted him in her home, and his parents wanted to reverse the adoption.
The crisis worker said it was not possible to reverse the adoption and suggested that respite care be tried instead. Jaliek was sent to the home of Elaine and Tom Person, licensed foster parents who had provided respite care for him in the past. They kept Jaliek until November 1st, then returned him to Kerr, who planned to send him to another respite home the next day; that was the day Jaliek was reported missing.
An extensive search of the area turned up no indication of Jaliek's whereabouts. Within a few days police announced they thought he could have met with foul play since it is unlikely that a child of that age could survive on his own; however, the possibilities that Jaliek ran away or committed suicide have not been ruled out. McDonald took a polygraph in his case, but Kerr refused to take one.
Both parents maintain their innocence in his case and stated they believed Jaliek simply ran away. They suggested he might be living with an African-American family or gang as he had always considered himself African-American rather than biracial and had wanted to live with other African-Americans.
The Persons said that the farewell note Jaliek supposedly left on the night he vanished was not a goodbye note, but rather a letter he was assigned to write by his father for homework. Kerr allegedly told his son to write a note apologizing to the people he had harmed, and Tom saw him writing it, although he didn't actually read it.
Elaine and Tom believe this was the note found after Jaliek vanished. Elaine, several of Jaliek's former foster parents and his adoptive maternal grandparents have started a website publicizing Jaliek's disappearance. Elaine wrote she believed Kerr harmed Jaliek on the day he went missing and caused his disappearance.
In January 2008, police named Kerr as a person of interest in Jaliek's disappearance. They stated they had video surveillance camera footage of Kerr driving his van around Greenwich after midnight on the night of his disappearance (at a time that) Kerr says he was asleep.
Cell phone records also indicate Kerr took a different route to the house than he had said. Investigators appealed for information on Kerr's whereabouts on November 1 and November 2nd. Later in January, an anonymous letter about the case was sent to several local media outlets.
The letter read: "Jaliek still alive. Needed a foot soldier for this war on drugs. Picked him up Rt 40 Post 30. He's ok. No fake. He says asks his Mama and Papa. Who are the macaronni [sic] family? My cat name diamond? Why does Franti yell fire? Don't try to look we are not there."
Jaliek did own a cat named Diamond, but the significance of the other statements are unclear. Authorities appealed to the letter writer to give more information, but the person was never heard from again and was never identified. Police conducted a search warrant on Kerr's father's home (where Jaliek stayed when he disappeared) in February 2008. Days later, Kerr and McDonald filed a lawsuit against the police department, alleging that they had been illegally detained and that the search was improper.
Jaliek's adoptive maternal grandmother, Barbara Reeley has been active in the search for him and filed for custody of him after his disappearance, but was denied. In July of 2008, she was charged with burglarizing Kerr and McDonald's home. Reeley has pleaded not guilty. Shortly after the burglary, police went to the home and removed a piece of clothing for testing. They stated Reeley had seen the clothing while she was inside.
In a media interview, Reeley stated that Kerr had anger management issues and had been going to counseling for them, and that McDonald had made him move out of the family home for brief periods twice in 2007 because of his angry behavior towards the children. Reeley said she witnessed an incident where Kerr became angry with Jaliek, dragged him outside and repeatedly dunked him in a nearby creek. She said McDonald made Kerr write a letter of apology to Jaliek for this and made him do the child's chores for a month.
Jaliek may be in the New York cities of Albany or Altamont. Authorities stated they have little evidence as to his fate and no one has been charged in connection with his case, but foul play is suspected in his disappearance.
Description[edit | edit source]
Jaliek is biracial (of African-American\Caucasian descent), has brown hair & green eyes. He has a slight speech impediment which causes him to pronounce the letter "r" like a "w." His nickname is Jay. At the time of his disappearance, his hair had blond highlights and was styled in a two-inch afro.
He was last seen wearing a bright yellow fleece pullover, a gray t-shirt with the image of a dragon on the front, blue jeans and black canvas high-top sneakers.
Jaliek suffers from severe emotional problems and has violent outbursts as a result. He was exposed to alcohol & cocaine in utero and has been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder which makes it hard for him to form relationships.