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Rock Hill missing teen found dead; the ache hits home for all parents

Jamie Magras
Jamie Magras

The police and the coroner came to the house Monday, and hope in Rock Hill and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands that a child was alive was no more.

Jamie Magras, 18, a languages student who studied Chinese and others, was set to graduate from Northwestern High School. She had been missing since the morning of April 28.. She grew up on the island of St. Thomas, where my family lived before coming to this area. Her mother went to the same high school, Saints Peter and Paul, as my wife.

Jamie went to the prom at Northwestern two weeks ago. She had no date. She went by herself, her stepfather said.

But she went.

Her stepfather said Jamie had a great time at a prom.

The Virgin Islands is a small place in America, a territory of the U.S. Most everybody knows everybody else. The Magras name, French, is familiar to most people there. Because of social media that has shrunk the world, people in that place in the Virgin Islands also knew Jamie was missing. People online were telling my wife of the hope, and then the heartache.

Every parent of daughters, and I have three, hoped. Those who pray prayed a lot.

I drove straight to the Magras house Sunday morning. Jamie’s stepfather, Rob Maietta, said all who knew the name Magras in Rock Hill would keep looking.

“We just need somebody to do the right thing and tell us where she is,” Rob said.

The family and Maietta’s employer offered a $10,000 reward to find Jamie. Maietta hoped the reward would be the key. He hoped she could be found in time to get her medication, which she needed to prevent her from having seizures.

He said Jamie had written a note that she was going out at 1 a.m., an odd hour, and unlike her.

Fathers and mothers in Rock Hill and St. Thomas froze with fear that a child would leave alone in the dark.

An anonymous person who read the Sunday article in the Herald offered Monday morning to match the $10,000 reward.

Rock Hill, St. Thomas, parents everywhere wanted that girl to return safely. Four days of hope ended Monday morning when police found Jamie’s body.

I had to help write that story.

After the TV crews had left the scene where and police had ended the search, I drove to the Maietta home. I passed the spot where Jamie had been found, and a stranger named Veronica Erwin had left a dove statue she hoped brought peace to the family.

A teacher of the younger Maietta daughters had stopped by to offer anything he could. He left, and I stood there on the porch and I asked Bob Maietta if there was anything he or his family needed -- food for family who would arrive from the Virgin Islands and other places, the grass cut, a cold beer.

Maietta said there was nothing that could help, but he thanked me for stopping by again and getting the word of hope and reward out to the world Sunday and early Monday -- before hope died.

I told him if there was anything I could do, just call on me.

We shook hands. Two fathers of daughters.

I walked out to my car, drove down the street to where nobody could see me at the traffic circle. It was close to sunset Monday. A flash driving rainstorm had just ended. There was no rainbow.

I thought of my three daughters. I thought of the pain on Bob Maietta’s face. The family in St. Thomas I know. And I cried for Jamie Magras, who went to the prom by herself in a place so far from where she came from.

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