According to Kim

Former foster parents create task force to find missing Greenwich boy

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GREENWICH — Five foster parents who cared for Jaliek Rainwalker during the years before he was placed at a home in Greenwich have started a task force dedicated to finding the missing 12-year-old.

Altamont resident Elaine Person will head the group — taking a leave of absence from her job as executive director of a “small non-profit agency” to guide it — leading activities that will include fundraisers, a toll-free hotline and at least one Web site. They also plan educational efforts about foster care and adoption.

The group will begin its effort with a press conference Tuesday morning in Greenwich, at which a new reward will be offered and another “exciting” announcement will be made, Person said.

Person and her husband run a “respite home” for foster children, where Jaliek spent six days before he disappeared.

Jaliek’s adopted father, Stephen Kerr, picked the boy up at that home the night of Nov. 1. Kerr reported him missing the next morning, prompting a massive manhunt that has not turned up any clues to the boy’s whereabouts.

Kerr’s mother-in-law and father-in-law also will be part of the task force, but Person said Kerr and his wife have not been asked to take part.

Person and the mother-in-law, Barbara Reeley of Poestenkill, have made it clear they believe Kerr has not told all he knows about the circumstances of Jaliek’s last known contact Nov. 1-2. They’ve criticized him for refusing to take a lie detector test in the first days of the inquiry.

“First of all, they wouldn’t (take part),” Person said. “Second of all, we don’t trust them.”

Kerr said Friday that it was “wonderful” that the group was going to step up efforts to help find Jaliek.

“Anything anyone can do to help me find my son, I’m in favor of,” he said.

But he bristled at accusations made by Person and the others who have publicly questioned whether he had a hand in Jaliek’s disappearance.

“All of these people had a chance to adopt Jaliek before us but didn’t,” he said. “They let this boy down. We didn’t.”

He said the public does not know the efforts he and his wife, Jocelyn McDonald, went to to try to help the troubled boy, including an intense, two-week therapy session which Kerr, McDonald and his wife took part in with Jaliek.

Kerr has said he believes Jaliek — who had a history of emotional problems — ran away and is in hiding somewhere.

He has said he did not take the lie detector test because police violated his rights and threatened him.

Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell said Person discussed the task force’s intentions with police Thursday, and he was “100 percent behind it.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “They want to put up their own reward and do whatever they can to help us.”

Kerr and McDonald have offered a $25,0000 reward in the case, with the amount dropping by $5,000 for each month the case is not solved to try to entice those who know something to come forward earlier.

Person said she hopes to.

She said she believes there is a lack of oversight in the foster care system, and had there been oversight Jaliek might not have been allowed to stay in the Kerr home in East Greenwich, where there was no running water and limited electricity in recent years. She said Jaliek told her he was locked in his bedroom at times at Kerr’s former home in Salem.

They’ve also questioned why Kerr and McDonald continued to receive $1,500-a-month payments from Albany County to be foster parents for Jaliek after his disappearance.

The couple’s other children are no longer in their care, in part because the East Greenwich home where they were staying did not have a certificate of occupancy. Kerr and McDonald have been staying recently at the Hill Street, Greenwich, home that is owned by Kerr’s father and where Jaliek was last seen Nov. 1.

Person said a Web site will be used to keep the public informed about the investigation.

Meanwhile, Bell said he plans to meet with the State Police in the coming days to go over the agencies’ next step in the investigation. The State Police, FBI, state Department of Environmental Conservation and Washington County Sheriff’s Office have worked with Cambridge-Greenwich Police.

The task force’s press conference is to be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Washington Square Deli in Greenwich. The Web site will be set up at


Written by Kim

December 28, 2007 at 12:54 pm

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