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Make War Not Love

August 1, 2008 permalink

Today we contrast two stories about teenaged foster boys. One was adopted and at age 17 shot to death. There will be be no legal repercussions for the policeman who killed him. The other teenager was loved by his foster mother. She is facing four felony charges and decades behind bars.



South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Police shooting of Pompano Beach teen justified, jury rules

It's nearly two years since then- Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Jonathan Welker shot and killed a Pompano Beach teen during a mysterious pre-dawn confrontation.

On Wednesday, Broward County grand jurors found Joshua Mendelson's slaying to be a justifiable homicide, prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said.

Welker, 33, who is no longer with the department, will not face criminal charges for the November 2006 shooting.

"I'm disappointed that two fully armed policemen with a trained canine could not calm down my grandson, if he was agitated, and instead wound up shooting him and killing him," Bob Mendelson, 68, said Wednesday from his Manhattan home. "It's just a tragedy and an overreaction by frightened policemen, who didn't show very much judgment."

Jonathan Welker
On Wednesday, Broward County grand jurors found Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Jonathan Welker's shooting of Joshua Mendelson's to be a justifiable homicide, prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said.

Mendelson's family reported the former foster child missing the day after the 17-year-old failed to return home from a trip to a Coral Springs mall.

Three days later, they learned he had been shot dead near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Joshua Mendelson, adopted at age 10 by Bob Mendelson's daughter, Rachel, struggled with depression and attended a school for emotionally disabled students.

Authorities said the teen was bleeding from his face and wielding a spear-like stick when he came at Welker and another K-9 officer during a 2 a.m. training exercise.

"His life was a difficult one, his life was a sad one, his circumstances were indeed unfortunate," Welker's attorney, Mike Dutko said. "But none of that was known to Officer Welker at the time that he was confronted by Mendelson at 2 o'clock in the morning in a dark and remote area."

An independent investigation by the FBI found no wrongdoing, Dutko said.

Welker testified Wednesday to the grand jury and deliberations were brief, Dutko said.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Accused foster mother faces August court date

A foster mother accused of having sex with the boy in her care has had her case continued until Aug. 26.

Jennifer Renee McWhirter, 33, of Mountain View Road, Bell Buckle, was charged in June with three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and one count of criminal responsibility for facilitation of a felony. She is currently free on $11,000 bond.

At the Aug. 26 appearance, McWhirter could possibly have her case bound over to the Bedford County Grand Jury, according to Detective Lt. Becky Hord of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department.

McWhirter held the position of foster care coordinator at the Center for Family Development and was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

Hord said in June she had received information that McWhirter, the boy's foster parent, had sexual relations with him.

The alleged relationship between McWhirter and the boy came to light after another foster mother was charged with eight counts of statutory rape by an authority figure earlier this year.

Alea Rhea Rippy pleaded guilty in June to amended charges -- three counts of statutory rape -- and agreed to serve 6 months in jail, followed by three years of community corrections. Rippy also had sexual relations with the minor in McWhirter's care.

Rippy could have faced from three to 15 years in prison on each of the eight counts, which is a class C felony. It was Rippy's first offense.

Hord said in June that the youth, McWhirter and Rippy "were all three good friends instead of foster care, foster parents." Other evidence was provided to Hord that indicated that "there was more than a foster mother/child relationship," she said.

Interviews of the juvenile indicated that McWhirter allegedly had sex with the boy three times last October and that the boy, Rippy and McWhirter drank alcoholic beverages together, Hord said.

Hord also said that preparations had allegedly been made to hide the boy in Florida because DCS had decided to send him back to Mexico. There was an issue with the Mexican consulate, Hord said, so the boy never went back.

Source: Shelbyville Times-Gazette