Déjà Vu

By Patrick Chierichella, Educational Coordinator

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Taken from the French expression, literally meaning “already seen,” déjà vu is that eerie sense of “I’ve experienced this before.” This may occur from the current situation producing some clues that may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience.

In 2004, Central Florida TV station Local 6 reported that investigators found 11-year old Carlie Brucia’s remains between 12:45 a.m. and 1 a.m. on Friday, February 5th outside a church a few miles from the car wash where she was taken.

“Our prayers on behalf of everybody here in Sarasota County go out to the family,” said Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill in a press conference, naming Joseph P. Smith, 37, as the suspect who was charged with the girl’s kidnapping and murder. Smith had been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993, according to state records and convicted of drug possession and other charges. He was arrested in 1997 in Manatee County on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges, but was acquitted a year later.

Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said the TV report. Earlier it had been said that Smith, believed to be the tattooed man in a mechanic’s shirt shown in the surveillance video leading Carlie away by the hand, had not been cooperating during police questioning.

At a nationally televised press conference shortly after 7 on Friday morning, sheriff’s authorities announced, “We have found Carlie and the person responsible for her murder is in custody.”

Forrest Carr, in his February 17, 2004 article, Covering Carlie: A News Director’s Perspective, said

  • Some critics believe the media exploited Carlie Brucia.
  • We needlessly frightened parents and children… leaving people with a distorted view of reality and a feeling that the world is scarier than it really is.
  • I would venture to guess that every mother in America had a conversation with her child about strangers. Every parent I know had such a conversation. Every teacher I know did the same.
  • They had the conversations because for one heart-rending week, not just the community but the entire world was reminded that monsters do walk amongst us, and that we need to be aware of that. Telling children about this is not an easy conversation to have. It frightens them. Though painful, it’s an inoculation against a reality of life that many parents have come to feel is necessary. It is necessary. (Emphasis mine).


On May 31, 2017 twelve year old Naomi Jones was reported missing from her home. Last known contact with the child was by a friend who had texted her at 12:21pm that day. Police theorized that Naomi probably died within 24-36 hours of her abduction. Her body was found by fishermen on June 5th. The Sheriff’s department noted Naomi may have been a possible target through social media.

Several years ago I wrote a short blog entitled There be monsters! I spoke of imaginary as well as real individuals who inflicted unspeakable harm to children and their families.

Pensacola, Florida is located in Escambia County. The county’s Sheriff’s office Chief Deputy, Chip Simmons announced that a convicted sex offender, in prison for 15 years for two counts of sexual assault and rape, released from prison 4 years ago, was arrested. Simmons said, “We have caught our MONSTER (emphasis mine). We have caught the killer that took Naomi’s life-a twelve year old girl who had her whole life in front of her.”

That word, MONSTER, describes so clearly the revulsion the rest of society holds for these killers of children. As Forrest Carr said, the painful conversation between parents/guardians and the children they raise is NECESSARY. Carr described the dialogue as an inoculation. I am sure we all recall how we winced as the needle with the preventative medicine neared our child’s arm. I suggest it is time to have another such important discussion with our children. Dr. Charles Kolenik noted that booster shots of reminding and refreshing the concepts of stranger safety help keep the original inoculation strong.

These cases of déjà vu we can do without.

As always, and especially now with the freedom of summer vacation upon us, Be Safe!

About The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation

Founded by Matthew J. Barbis after his 11-year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, FL in 2004. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction. Utilizing puppets and a formalized educational curriculum, the foundation provides elementary-aged children with the Stranger Safety Awareness Program, free of charge. The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

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