Diena Thompson couldn’t hold back the tears as she recounted the 2009 rape and murder of her daughter Somer.
“To all who plan to harm our children, we will not stand for it anymore,“ said Thompson.
Somer’s accused killer was being investigated by Florida’s Cybercrime Unit when investigators say he raped and killed the seven year old in Clay County. But investigators were too late.
The unit only has 34 employees and just 15 are investigator. The U.S. Department of Justice has identified 34,000 computers in Florida that may have been used to download child pornography, which means there are just too many leads for 15 investigators to track them all down.
And the situation could get worse. Governor Rick Scott wants to scale the unit back to just six investigators. Diena says if investigators couldn’t save her daughter with 15 investigators, then having just six will mean more kids are raped and killed.
“It’s a huge mistake with disastrous endings to it,” said Diena.
Mark Lunsford, the father of Jessica Lunsford who was abducted and killed in 2005, says child predators welcome the cuts.
“The predators will laugh at you because of the weakness that you show. We can’t show them weakness. They have no heart,” said Lunsford.
The parents hope their stories will help sway the legislature to fund the Cybercrime Unit, so more families don’t have to share their nightmare. Lawmakers are still working out their budgets. They’re willing to listen to the families pleas, but with a 3.75 billion dollars deficit, they say everything is on the table.