Many Utahns woke up with heavy hearts Wednesday morning after learning that 7-year-old Hser Nay Moo, reported missing Monday evening, had been found dead in a neighboring unit of the South Salt Lake complex apartment where the little refugee lived.
These events were painfully reminiscent of the tragic death of 6-year-old Destiny Norton two years ago. In both cases, volunteers turned out in droves to search for the missing girls. Moo, like Norton, was found close to home. Norton was killed by a neighbor. The suspect in Moo's homicide lives in the same apartment complex.
As a community, these events chill us. We hold our children closer and try to understand how such horrific things can happen. Few of us can comprehend what drives a human being to kill another, let alone murder an innocent child.
Moo's father, Cartoon Wah, who was originally from Myanmar, had lived in a Thailand refugee camp before relocating to Utah last summer. Wah brought his family here to have a better life. Now he's lost his only daughter.
Wednesday afternoon, a stoic Wah made a brief statement to the press through a translator. He repeatedly thanked the police, the news media and volunteer searchers who played a role in helping to find the little girl. He spoke of how faith had sustained his family throughout this ordeal and how it would guide and lift them in the difficult days ahead.
Although we struggle to understand such events, we can take some solace in the knowledge that about 1,100 people turned out to search for Moo. In a very short time, Utahns became emotionally invested in the welfare of a missing child. That is because most Utahns can relate to Wah's anguish because of the depth of love they have for their own children.
It is also because Utahns have been down this path before when other children in our community have been kidnapped, some of them murdered. Now, as then, a family in our midst requires our continued support, love and prayers.