Special Reports

Indictments of Melissa Jenkins and Daniel Ehrlick Jr. fill searchers with disappointment

STANDING IN SUPPORT

Nikki and Steve Adams, who planned nightly vigils while the 8-year-old was missing, say they are still behind Robert's mother, Melissa Jenkins, 100 percent.

"We're there to support Melissa, and we're also going to support the family," Nikki Adams said. "We're going to let the justice system take its course. They'll have the facts and prove the proof."

Nikki Adams said it's hard for her to believe that Jenkins could be willingly involved.

"I don't see it," she said. "We're sad. We're disappointed that it comes to this."

'SICK AND SAD'

Carol Peterson lives down the street from the complex where Jenkins lives. She attended the nightly vigils.

"We're all really sick," Peterson said. "I'm a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. Your child is the one you need to protect. And I think that Melissa, she should have at least sent that child back to Charles (Manwill, his father). The first time (Daniel Ehrlick Jr.) laid a hand on that child she should have sent him back."

Peterson said if Ehrlick was physically abusive toward Jenkins, she could have sought help.

"Everybody here would have helped her," Peterson said. "This is a wonderful neighborhood. I've lived here 44 years; we've never had anything like this happen in this neighborhood.

"I'm sick and sad. She should be charged with exactly what she was charged with."

A CALL TO AWARENESS

John Oliva, a Mountain Home teacher formerly of Ontario, drove to Boise to help with the search for Robert.

"I was glad that there was some conclusion, (but) highly, highly disappointed. It's so unfortunate that something like this could happen. It was kind of just overwhelming.

" ... The amount of trauma the boy endured prior to death must be horrific.

"As a teacher, it forces me to be more aware of students who are struggling and sensitive to kids having a difficult time."

ANGRY AFTER HELPING OUT

Sarah Ledford, a mom and Realtor from Caldwell, joined all three July 31 searches to help find Robert because, "we needed to find the kid so justice can be done."

"I'm furious," she said Wednesday. "We knew he was dead."

Ledford said the death penalty would be an easy way out for the people responsible.

"We could not do to them what I would like to see done to them," Ledford said. "I don't know how a mother could get up there the whole time, get 15 minutes of fame, and know where her son is the whole time" - if the charges are proven.

Ledford said she doesn't like hearing about these situations in the news, but "there's no way to not watch it and not know what was going on. I can't even imagine it. It's just not conceivable."

'I CAN'T FATHOM IT'

New Plymouth Mayor Joe Cook brought a group of residents down from Robert's hometown on July 31 to search, and he spoke at the boy's funeral.

"I'm disappointed that these folks didn't step forward," he said.

Cook said he's relieved that there likely isn't a stranger randomly snatching children, but the events that likely ended Robert's life show a dark side in a family history that wasn't well known.

"How did this boy end up back in that environment? I can't in my wildest dream think of what a little kid could do to push you to that extreme, unless you're evil. To me, I can't fathom it. This whole thing is beyond sad. ... As a parent, it just drives you crazy."

Cook and others said they respect and are grateful for the work of police on the case.

"This is a tough situation," Cook said. "There was tremendous pressure on the police department."

Sandra Forester: 377-6464

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