This weekend brought a devastating revelation to DeKalb County. A child was reported missing Friday and later discovered deceased Saturday.

Amberly Alexis Barnett, age 11, disappeared from her aunt’s home in Mount Vernon and was later found, but not with the results that anyone had hoped.

I cannot imagine what the family and responders experienced this weekend. The fear. The heartbreak. The hopelessness. It must be unbearable for everyone involved.

I attended the press conferences at the sheriff’s office on Saturday, and I saw and felt the despair that was in the room. Our sheriff stood among the cameras and announced the news. Many of his deputies stood in solemn silence nearby in support and in reverence.

Our law enforcement has tirelessly and sleeplessly pursued all leads and avenues for this case, and I fully believe they will continue to do so.

Often we get annoyed when we get stopped by law enforcement for traffic violations or breaking what we think is an insignificant law. We forget that everything they do is for our safety, our well-being.

I felt that same sentiment this weekend. Although we may not know a lot of details of what is happening, there is a reason for that. Everything they do and tell us is for our safety and the safety of those involved in an open investigation.

I made the mistake of tuning into Facebook comments, the deep pit of indifference and heartlessness. Some people seem to think their words go unnoticed, or that they don’t make an impact. Let me tell you, everything you put out into the world has an impact on someone, whether you realize it or not. There is a family and a community hurting right now. Please be kind in the words you use toward the family and our deputies, investigators, etc. that are involved in any way.

This was a senseless act of evil that members of our community saw first-hand the results. Please be patient as they continue this investigation and release information as it comes available.

If you pray, remember to ask that our law enforcement officers find peace and also the information necessary to give the family and community answers.

A friend sent me a photo of a painting this weekend called “First Day in Heaven” by Kerolos Safwat as a remembrance of Amberly. It depicts a young, blonde woman embracing Jesus as she enters Heaven for the first time. The angelic picture shows the girl’s tears of joy when meeting Christ, and I think that is something I hope to leave with you all. Picture Amberly in the arms of Jesus for the first time, filled with joy as she was welcomed home this weekend.

Emily Kirby is a staff writer for the Times-Journal. Her column runs every other Tuesday. She can be reached at

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