Monday, March 5, 2012

Activist Laura Cowan questions Cuyahoga County officials after AMBER Alert to find Latasha Jackson and baby daughter faults, both later found murdered

Laura Cowan, an anti-domestic violence advocate, speaks to 19 Action News during a vigil held after the bodies of 19-year-old Latasha Jackson and Jackson's one-year-old daughter Chaniya Wynn were discovered by police in a garage on Cleveland's majority Black east side. An AMBER Alert issued by Cuyahoga County that might have prevented the tragedy faulted twice.

By Kathy Wray Coleman , Editor of Cleveland Urban News.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog,.Com( and (

CLEVELAND,Ohio-A CNN community hero and community activist whose baby's daddy is serving a life sentence for holding her hostage in her home garage and raping her in front of her then two children is calling for Cuyahoga County officials to do better with the AMBER Alert in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of a young Black mother and her young daughter by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend two weeks ago.

"It is negligence on their part because they need to test their equipment, and they need new equipment because what they have is outdated," said Laura Cowan, a member of Peace in the Hood whose activism was elevated after she was kidnapped and held in her home garage for six months 12 years ago in a rural California town where she was repeated raped in front of her children. She slip a postal worker a note and police freed her from her then polygamist husband Mansa Muhummed, who had brainwashed her into buying into his polygamy and abuse of women.

He is serving a life sentence in a California prison.

After receiving recognition as a CNN hero for her activism after her ordeal, Cowan, 54, who works for CMHA as a computer analyst, returned to her hometown of Cleveland, Oh. and began carrying the torch to eradicate domestic violence there.

Her patience was tested two weeks ago after the AMBER Alert faulted and the bodies of Latasha Jackson and her one-year old daughter Chaniya Wynn were found hours later in a garage on Union Ave. on Cleveland's majority Black east side of town.

Thomas Lorde, 35, Jackson's estranged boyfriend, kidnapped Jackson, 19, and Wynn from their home at East 72nd St and Union Ave on 11:44 am on Sat. Feb. 18 . He took them to a nearby garage and shot them before turning the gun on himself, police said.

An AMBER Alert was issued but it failed two times before working on the third try, though it was later cancelled after police said their bodies were found about 2:00 am on Feb 19.

Latasha R. Jackson.jpgLatasha Jackson
Shania Wynn.jpgView full sizeChaniya Wynn
Thomas Lorde.jpgThomas Lorde
Cowan said that Lorde was a jilted ex-boyfriend who retaliated when the young woman, who hoped to one day become a nurse and had only dated him for two months, broke off the relationship.

"She was ready to break up with him and he could not handle it," said Cowan. "Older guys that date women a lot younger than they are often treat them as if they are their daughters and become abusive when they do not obey them or break up with them."

County officials admit to the AMBER Alert fiasco and police have not said whether they believe that Jackson and her daughter would have been saved had the alert worked. The weekend of the episode, six other homicides occurred in Cleveland.

Amber Hagerman, whose abduction and murder prompted Congress to pass the AMBER Alert law in 1996

The AMBER Alert, which stands for America's Missing Broadcasting Emergency Response, is a child abduction alert bulletin that Congress began to require by federal law in 1996, legislation named for then nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered that year in Arlington, TX.

Reach Kathy Wray Coleman by email at, and by telephone at 216-932-3114.