Child Abuse Murders Shock Mississippi

Miranda Tames stood outside her office and shook her head in disbelief.

"It will never make sense to me," she said of the recent rash of child abuse cases that became murders. "None of it will."

Tames talks from experience. In 2000, she buried her daughter Shelby. It was Shelby's step-uncle who smothered, strangled, molested and then dumped the four year old girl in the woods.

"There is no sense in somebody killing a child," Tames said. "There is no sense in anybody hurting a child that way."

The question Tames can't get answered is why a family member abused and killed her daughter.

"And that's something I would really, really like to know," she said.

That question also haunts Beth Casey.

"If you can figure out the why," Casey said as she sat in the Harrison County Family courtroom, "then you might be able to do something to prevent it."

Casey is an abuse and neglect counselor for Harrison County. She's also part of the child advocacy group called PACT -- Professionals Advocating Children Together.

PACT has warned people in Mississippi for two years that children could die if the state doesn't invest more resources to investigate child abuse cases.

Casey has been investigating child abuse cases for two decades.

"I think that what does happen is it is a rage that overcomes an individual so quickly, that there is no control," she said.

Casey actually lives very close to the spot in Harrison County where authorities found the body of five year old Kenderick Broadhead. That spot was next to a landfill.

The counselor said to her, Tuesday's discovery spoke volumes about children and abuse.

"You think to yourself, is this what it has come to," she said, "where children in our community, and bigger our society, are viewed as garbage that they're just dumped by the wayside. It leaves you with a sinking feeling."

Miranda Tames knows what that sinking feeling is like. So when she heard about Tuesday's tragedy, she relived her daughter's horror four years earlier. And then her focus turned back to the present -- to the little five year old boy.

"There is nothing in this world that child could possibly have done to make his mother go that far," she said.

Statistics from the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse are staggering. In 2001, there were 17,270 child abuse cases reported in Mississippi to the Department of Human Services. Two years before that, that number topped 18,000.