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Maddy – The Church’s Response

One of many posters all over town

One of many posters all over town

At about 4:32 pm on a sunny, cloudless Sunday, July 26th, someone saw eight-year old Maddy Middleton near her apartment complex in Santa Cruz. Later that evening she was reported as missing. Flyers went up all over town–in stores, gas stations, restaurants, parking booths. Despite a huge search and many prayers for her safe return, Maddy’s lifeless body was found in a dumpster at the site of her home about 28 hours later.

A fifteen-year-old neighbor, reputedly a good friend of Maddy’s, has been arrested and is being charged as an adult for her kidnapping, sexual assault and murder.

What do we do with this? This horrific murder in our own back yard has rocked our community. Maddy disappeared on a celebratory day, the Wharf to Wharf run from Santa Cruz to Capitola. People flocked our seaside towns. Anyone could have kidnapped her; but it appears it was someone who lived in the same apartment complex as Maddy, someone she considered a friend. Neighbors in the artists’ complex are shocked, saying the boy was a “nice kid”, “always a part of cleanup efforts.”

I can’t even begin to imagine the horror Maddy experienced when this person she probably trusted, turned on her. I pray God was present with her during her suffering. I grieve for the loss of this precious little girl and for the agony of her family, and also for the boy’s mother.

And how do we as the Body of Christ respond at a time like this? Scripture tells us to weep with those who weep. Pastor Mark said that as Maddy was probably being assaulted and killed, he drove by that complex en route to speak at another church. We can never bring Maddy back. But we can weep with and for the families as we surround them with practical love, prayers and care. Last night we learned that Santa Cruz area churches are acting in unity to raise funds for the Middleton’s living expenses as well as for grief counseling for the entire apartment complex that has been so affected by this tragedy.

As another of our pastors said, “We want to show the families that evil has not won. Sometimes it feels like it has; but good will still prevail.”

Won’t you join me in praying that as Jesus’ followers reach out in unity to express God’s love to the Middletons and to the boy’s family, that they will see and feel God’s love through our unified efforts. And that, through and beyond the time of mourning, His love will sustain, comfort, strengthen them and give them hope.

Thank you.


  1. Cathy Anderson says:

    How very sad for all involved. I am glad to hear that the church community is rising up to be a support to all families affected by this tragedy. My prayers are with both families.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thank you, Cathy.

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