Posted July 18, 2007 10:52 p.m. EDT
It's not unusual for families to put up reward money in order to get answers when a loved one is missing or murdered. It's something tangible that people swallowed up by tragedy can do to crawl out of the dark hole created by grief. It allows them to stay busy and focus on getting answers, not on sinking deeper into the despair caused by these unspeakable acts. But real money, the kind of money that motivates people to talk, is not something everyone has access to. Enter corporate America.
Recently, we've seen companies donating reward money in high-profile cases across the country as well as here in the Triangle. Whether they are motivated by the potential goodwill their gesture will earn them in the community, or by a sense of sincere duty, or a little of both, their contributions can make a major difference.
Take Boon Edam Tomsed Incorporated, a revolving door manufacturer in Lillington. The company recently put up $10,000 in reward for information into the murder of Jenna Nielsen. Nielsen , a newspaper delivery person, was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed and left to die behind a Raleigh convenience store last month. Tim Nielsen, her husband, works for the Lillington company that so generously put up the reward money. The family has created a website (www.justice4jenna.org) where people can get and give information about the case and the reward.
Today Progress Energy put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed Michelle Young. Young was also pregnant when someone beat her to death in her Wake County home eight months ago. She was a senior financial specialist in the company's tax department and had worked there since 2003.
This isn't the first time Progress Energy has stepped up to the plate. Last year when another one of its employees, Cynthia Moreland, was missing, the company offered $15,000 for information leading to her whereabouts. In a horrific turn of events a Harnett County couple found Moreland's body behind and abandoned home. True to its word, Progress paid the couple the reward money.
The bottom line is that no one knows if a reward will yield positive results in a criminal investigation. It may result in hundreds of false leads that simply muddy the water, but there is always the chance that it will inspire someone to do the right thing. The truth is that we are not all motivated by conscience. Often, money is the factor which tips the scales in favor of justice.
Clearly, large companies can afford to be part of this process. Regardless of their connection to a case, regardless of their motivation, they should be applauded for noble efforts.