The News Tribune logo

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Semaj Booker and Michael Kekoa Ravenell

Why doesn't someone, somewhere listen to the children?

Michael Kekoa Ravenell (right), age 3 1/2, is dead at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, a guy with a previous conviction for physical abuse of his own child who was under two years of age.

Semaj Booker(left), age 10, has made headlines the past couple of days because of a second attempt to get on a plane and return to Texas to live with his grandfather. Semaj ('James' spelled backwards) was a 9-year-old when he made his first attempt to return to where he felt loved and safe, i.e. in Texas with his grandfather, less than one year ago. It was all the buzz in the news at the time not only because of his age, but because he had stolen and destroyed a neighbor's car in his first attempt to flee, but also because he cleverly outwitted the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) screeners at the various airports he passed through on that sojourn.

It was reported that Semaj wanted to flee Lakewood (Pierce County) not only to be back with his grandfather in Texas, but also because of a sex offender who had recently moved into the neighborhood.

Since Semaj was apprehended -- again -- yesterday, all the tsk-tsk-tsk-ing is going on about his 'stunts' and his 'escapades' and KOMO's Denise Whitacre headlined her piece "The price of Semaj Booker's outrageous stunts." Then there are quotes from the neighbor whose car was destroyed last year, and how he is out $3,000, and a quote from the prosecutor Fred Wist saying that Semaj "hasn't paid a dime."

Where exactly is a 9-year-old supposed to be acquiring income to pay a $3,000 debt?

There's a reason this is happening. By that, I mean there is a reason that Semaj is compelled to try to escape his home environment over and over again and going to extreme lengths to get away. Is he just a bad kid, rotten to the core, 'the bad seed'? I don't think so.

NO ONE IS LISTENING to Semaj Booker.

More tragically, NO ONE WAS LISTENING to Michael Kekoa Ravenell. Now that he is dead, everyone will know his name. But it is too late for Michael Kekoa Ravenell. No one listened. No one took any action on his behalf to save him in time.

Meanwhile, Semaj is painted as a criminal, a repeat offender instead of a child in desperation for someone to listen to him.

KIRO TV even ascribed something more remarkable to Semaj Booker yesterday. The reporter said that he was 9 years old last year when he made his first unauthorized airplane travel to Texas "and now the teenager has done it again."
  • Teenager, huh? Wow! Semaj has super-human abilities that defy the imagination. Magically (thanks to KIRO TV) went from being a 9-year-old fewer than twelve months ago to now being a "teenager."

How many more Michael Kekoa Ravenell's will die before someone listens?

For Semaj Booker, at least he is still alive and there is still hope ~ if only someone will listen ~ in time, before it is too late.


Stephanie Frieze said...

It truly does take a village to raise a child. These tragedies will not happen when society begins to value children and give social services the sort of money and help that it needs to protect children. And yes, as adults, we need to listen more to children in crisis.

M VB said...

hey michael im so sorry what happen to your son. The same thing happened to my son near christmas that just past.

Live-In Boyfriend Arrested for Murder of Two-Year-Old Fabien Hunt, 22, arrested for fatal beating of two-year-old Kaviahn Van Buren. Posted Date: 12/19/2007
Reno resident Fabien Pierre Hunt, 22, was arrested yesterday, December 18, 2007, for the murder of two-year-old Kaviahn Van Buren, the child of his live-in girl friend.

On Tuesday afternoon, December 18th, at approximately 4:37 pm, RPD officers along with REMSA medical personnel responded to 769 West Seventh Street on the report of a child who was not breathing. Upon arrival Kaviahn Van Buren, male, 2 years of age, was located and found to be in medical distress. The child was transported to St. Mary’s hospital for treatment, where after extensive lifesaving attempts, he expired.

Preliminary investigation indicates the child was the victim of physical abuse while in the care of a Fabien Hunt. Hunt is the live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother. Hunt was interviewed at the Reno Police Department by Homicide Detectives where he implicated himself in the death of the victim.

Fabien Hunt was arrested on a charge of Murder and booked into Washoe County Jail. He is currently being held without bail.

I know how you feel and it is not a good feeling if you need someone to talk to email me at

Stephanie Frieze said...

It is heartbreaking that a child should die at all, but to die at the hands of those who are charged with their care is particularly distressing. K VB, there are no words of comfort I can think would be meaningful. Thank you for sharing your story here in our Neighborhood. We are, after all, members of the same community of humans. I pray for your heart to find some peace.

Lorraine Hart said...

Dear m vb, my deepest sympathies go out to you, for the heart-wrenching loss of your son. Bless you for your love and bravery in reaching out to others with your support.

Peter said...

Wow, so evidently the author of this post has conducted a complete investigation into Semaj Booker's home life, right? RIGHT???

I sure hope so, because unless you have some cold hard facts to back up these assertions... you have done a fine job of impugning the boy's parents based on little more than guesswork and "a desire to write" about something... anything.

I think you owe the boy's parents an apology, quite frankly.

Graco said...

Sorry, you are wrong about nobody listening to Michael Kekoa Ravenell. His father, Michael, listened and called CPS several times. He was trying deperately to gain custody of little Michael and his baby sister. Big Michael would probably have loved to run off with little Michael and the baby, but he would have been tracked and captured like and animal and then what. So, he played by the rules - followed the proper channels to help the little boy. I do not believe CPS can be blamed here as anybody who listens to the news, knows that they are severly under-funded and the case load of each worker is beyond belief. THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE RE-DONE. More money!! IF, our taxes need to be raised for THIS - I applaud that.
One more thing - where was mommy when all this was happening?! Was having a MAN - any MAN in her bed, more important than the welfare of her babies??! She is more guilty than the idiot who killed little Michael - to allow somebody to treat your children like that, is beyond a rational person's comprehension. I only hope to God that the father can now get custody of the baby girl.
I am SO sorry, Michael, for the loss of your beautiful boy! How lucky he was to have you in his short life!!

Stephanie Frieze said...

It is the system that let down Kekoa Ravenell. People rail against taxes, but it is those monies that support our infrastructure which includes social services. We need to value our children enough to be willing to support the government's efforts to protect them. Of course, some of the 212 million a day we are spending in Iraq would go a long way toward protecting American children.

Anonymous said...

Semaj Booker was arrested on Sat. July 5, 2008 for burglary. What does this kid have to do before he gets locked up? He's stolen several cars. Three in just one months' time last year!

The kid wants to go to Dallas to be with his grandfather, he says. Do you think grandpa really wants him after all the stunts this kid has pulled? The little kid is just 11 years old and has broken so many laws over and over again. Does he have to kill someone to be taken seriously that this kid is dangerous and should be off the streets? Obviously mom can't keep him in line. The police shouldn't have to keep arrested his sorry little butt over and over and over...

Anonymous said...

whomever: Semaj has been screaming out for help. Maybe the mom needs some help. She can't seem to control her kid, he keeps running away. I heard she has had another one. He is not going to stop until he receives some form of tangible consequence. Probation doesn't seem to be working.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Without knowing all the particulars it is difficult to assign guilt as to what causes Semaj Booker's behavior. Whether through permissiveness or neglect, perhaps it is good that he's kept locked up for now for his own protection since small children running around the country are a danger to themselves. Hopefully a skilled adult will be able to salvage this boy.

Anonymous said...

Lil Michaels mom is a whore who does not care as she is pregnant with this animals child and while he (Noah) is trying to plead insanity she is standing behind him and supporting him 100%. SICK utterly SICK she needs to be charged as well. Big Michael I pray for you and your little girl and your family. GOD BLESS YOU

Stephanie Frieze said...

Although this Neighborhood welcomes all opinions, we try not to make vulgar remarks regarding anyone. I see you added a ‘God Bless’ to your comment. I will add a ‘do unto others’.

Ciara said...

It breaks my heart that children are dying from abuse. It is happening everyday in the U.S.A. Statistically speaking 4 children die in the U.S everyday due to child abuse/neglect. This number is too high but it seems like nothing is being done to stop it. When is someone going to stand up and make a change. Usually what happens is a story comes up in an area. Everyone gets riled up about how horrible it is and then it is forgotten about a short time later until it happens again.

Please visit the site

It is shocking and sad but it is true and we as a country need to stand up to it.

Anonymous said...

Women should not be allowed to raise children, especially male children allone. When will we learn.

Lorraine Hart said...

I know many decent and strong women who have raised their children alone...both female and male children. While it would be nice if they didn't have to...your "should not be allowed" comment is offensive and shows a lack of knowledge on this subject.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Sexist comments made by individuals who do not have the decency to own their opinions reveals their ignorance. While raising children alone is not the ideal situation for a woman, strong women, particularly in the Black community, have always been the glue that holds society together. While there may be individual women and men who do not deserve the right to raise their children, I would not want to live in a country that took children away from women simply because there was not a man in their home.

Micah B said...

Wow,i go to school with this kid were in middle school and I usd to take spanish with him. this is kinda weird.

Micah B said...

And he dosent live with his parents people, he's in foster care.

Hog Hunting Texas said...

Its a very bad news his parents should be careful for his future. They should not spoil his life.