http://www.suntimes.com/news/mitchell/421149,CST-NWS-mitch10.article From prison, Dad couldn't save Desiray Wants other black fathers to learn from his mistakes June 10, 2007 BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist Timothy Parson, No. B5922, is an inmate at Taylorville Correctional Center. He also says he is the biological father of Desiray Smith, the 16-year-old girl who became the third Julian High School student killed this year. With only minor editing and some explanatory notes, I'm running Parson's plea to other fathers with the hope that those who are heading down his path will turn around before it is too late. • • • My name is Timothy Parson and I've been running in and outta these jails since the age of 33. I'm 46 now and during my stay in county lockup (on my way here) a question burned inside me. What is it gonna take for me to break this cycle? My ex-girlfriend, Denise Smith, died over two years ago of breast cancer. We had four children together, which were split up because of our addictions, and lack of responsibility. Two went to Texas with Denise's grandmother, and two stayed in Chicago with her aunt. Note: Jenny Henley and her husband, Gene, adopted Desiray when she was a month old and adopted her younger brother about a year later, according to a Chicago Tribune story dated May 31. As Desi got older, she would express her feelings to me. She was bright, loving, caring, just an all around sweet baby. Jenny took her to church every Sunday and would drag me along (between bits(?)). Never did I realize that a child's words could be so strong, so motivating. I promised her I would never come back here. But I did. Mad? A little chip on her shoulder? You dam [sic] right! Mother gone. Father can't stay outta jail. And I can't put my finger on it, but something drove that little girl to leave home last year. Sometimes she was there. Sometimes not. I talk to her on the phone and I ask her to hang on -- I'm coming. I graduated culinary. I have one more class for my associates degree and three more months to finish business management. I take theology courses on the side, and "Purpose Driven Life" at night. Note: "The Purpose Driven Life" is a 40-day spiritual guide written by Rick Warren. I really thought being here was a blessing cause now I thought I can keep my promise to Desi, and take care of her, tell her about life's problems. God. Men. And the value of a good education. But that dream was shattered, shattered by a man that I thought was a good man. I saw him at church, but as I look back, only twice in their house. People say my baby was flip at the mouth, but what could a baby say to make a man choke and beat her to death? Note: According to a police source, Desiray had been missing for a couple of days when she showed up at home and got into an argument with a male relative. When the argument escalated, he called police and tried to restrain Desiray until the officers arrived, and ended up strangling the teenage girl. No charges were filed against the man. In my Purpose Driven Life book, it says "God uses everything for the good in our lives," but from where I'm sitting, I can't see any good coming from this "murder." Yes! That's what it is. Make no mistake. And so he walks ... free as a bird. Why? Everyone around me is looking at this screaming how is that? Black men are all coming to me, looking at not just Desi's death but all the deaths in Chicago. Some scream murder: "You should kill him," they say. But I still have three more children that might need me, three more to fight for. But I wanna make so much noise when I get outta here to black fathers that I'll shake this Earth! We have to protect our children. Our sisters can only do so much. Avoiding the "trick" is hard. Selling drugs to get rich, robbing, using drugs and all the "get rich quick schemes" our youth seems to fall into. Unless we are there to tell them, we're a lost race. • • • Parson ended his letter with a vow to speak about the subject of protecting our children in Bible study class. "I'm gonna invite Muslims, Christians and non-believers, cause the thing that's going on out there isn't a good thang. Satan's alive and working, so that makes it a death thang -- deaths of our children, our race, our hopes and our dreams," he wrote. That's a lot wiser than trying to blame someone else for what happened to his daughter. I am grateful that Parson has seen the light. We need him to make that change if we are to save other children like Desiray.