Christopher’s Clubhouse: Surviving mother Mika Moulton works to protect children from sexual predators
DALLAS, April 25, 2014 — It was early afternoon on August 7, 1995 as the summer wound down in Aroma Park, Illinois and a welcome breeze swept through the small three-bedroom house in the quiet neighborhood.
Ten year-old Christopher Meyer navigated the haphazard array of toys littered about the living room as he headed for the kitchen where his mother was working. Sunlight danced across the faded linoleum as he took small leaps across the floor to land beside his mother. Dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, his short blonde hair lay in quiet disarray despite his mother’s constant attempts to comb it into place.
Christopher moved his well-worn sneakers back and forth as he looked up at his mother “Mommy can I go down to the river to play?” Christopher asked, his eyes begging for the answer he so desperately wanted. “Yes, but be back by 5:00PM.” Mika Moulton replied. “
Just two blocks away the river was a popular spot where neighborhood kids played. The neighborhood where the Moulton’s lived was a safe place, and other than bumps and bruises there had never been a reason to worry about a child’s safety there. It was like so many neighborhoods across America where hard working parents had chosen to raise their families.
Mika Moulton watched through the window as Christopher lifted his bike from its resting place among the blades of grass. As he settled into his seat he looked back at his mother as he waved and smiled.
Mika did not realize that this would be the last time she would ever see her son alive.
At 5:05 PM she began to worry. “I began to get frustrated. Christopher knew that I was adamant about being home on time or before. I voiced my annoyance and my daughter chimed in with ‘Quit worrying Mom, he will be home any minute.’ At 5:22 p.m. I felt an overwhelming fear and panic come over my body. It was as if someone had punched me in the stomach, knocking all of the air out of me. I remember this as I looked at the clock on the stove at that very moment. I had this incredible need to rush out of the house and find him.” Mika remembers.
Mika searched frantically but found no sign of her son. She returned home to call the police.
“Two officers came to our house and took a report. They proceeded to tell me, as they walked toward my front door, ‘We will put the information in the computer, but make sure to call us when he gets home. He is probably playing at a friend’s house and lost track of time.’ I was dumbfounded. How could they not feel the fear inside of me? How could they not understand that something was tragically wrong?” Mika remembers.
At 8:00PM Mika became frantic. With a flashlight tightly griped in her hand, she headed back down to the river and began searching. She thought Christopher may have climbed up into a tree and fallen asleep.
As she searched a nearby parking lot, a police officer noticed her alone in the dark. He asked what she was doing out in a dark area alone. “I explained the situation and he immediately got on his radio and began calling in support. Soon the search and rescue teams and dogs arrived. The Fire department set up a truck and large flood light in the parking lot, shining on the woods. Neighbors and others in the community began to gather, onlookers and friends, kids and adults,” Mika remembers.
Through their interviews with children who were with Christopher that day, police discovered a man in a car had been talking to Christopher and the other boys. He had followed Christopher after he left the river on is bike at 4:15PM.
Using information from the children, police created a composite sketch of a man who was seen talking to Christopher and gathered details about the car he was driving. They began searching for any convicted felons who would have been in the area during Christopher’s disappearance and distributed the sketch.
“I remember standing in the parking lot with a wonderful County officer watching as each searcher came out of the woods, knowing they would be carrying or walking out with Chris. The moments ticked by, night turning into morning.” Mika remembers.
Days later one of Christopher’s shoes was found by divers in the river and later pieces of his shirt and underwear were found in a wooded area twenty miles way.
“As each second ticked by it seemed like an eternity. I vaguely remember staring out my windows, watching the neighborhood children on their bikes. Knowing that Christopher would appear at any moment. And why were they happy? How could anybody laugh or joke or smile? My entire being was consumed by making the pain go away. I kept thinking, ‘When am I going to wake up?’” Mika remembers.
On August 15, 1995 the remnants of Christopher’s frail young body were found buried in a desolate shallow grave. “Eight days after riding his bike away from home, my doorbell rang at 3:00 a.m. The lead investigator on the case, Jo Mulcahy, stood at my door. Alone. She stepped into my house, we sat down on the couch and I looked into her beautiful eyes. She reached to hold my hand and informed me that a child’s body had been found. As her eyes began to glisten with tears, she said that they couldn’t confirm that it was Christopher. However, I knew that there were no other children missing. Through forensics and autopsy, it was determined to be Christopher. He had been stabbed over 50 times and his genitals brutally cut from his small body. His hands had defensive wounds on them, and showed that he had fought hard for his life.” Mika remembers.
A tip from a hotel clerk who had seen the man in the composite sketch the police were distributing led them to Timothy Buss, who had just been paroled from prison for the murder of five year-old Tara Sue Huffman. Buss had served only twelve years of a twenty-five year sentence and was in a nearby town for his sisters wedding during the time frame when Christopher disappeared.
Police apprehended Buss as he was talking to a group of children and evidence in his car tied him to Christopher’s murder. He was arrested, tried and convicted of the murder of Christopher Moulton and sentenced to death.
In 2002 former Illinois governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment.
Mika Moulton was consumed with anger and frustration stemming from a system that would allow a predator like Timothy Buss back on the streets after murdering a young girl. She knew she could never escape her broken heart and that Christopher’s memory would not allow her to rest until she made sure not one more child became a victim.
“I realized that I had told my children ‘Don’t talk to strangers.’ However I had never taught them what to do if someone grabbed them. I never imagined I could become one of the parents I had heard about on the news. I don’t suppose they ever thought they would either.” Mika remembers.
From the ashes of her despair Mika created a program with the local sheriff’s office to teach child safety.
One year after the death of her son, Mika Moulton opened the Christopher Meyer Safety Center. She began to educate and empower children and parents and teach the skills needed to stop predators from targeting the most vulnerable and trusting in our society.
Mika eventually moved to California, and when she realized there was no program in her neighborhood to protect and educate children, she started one. Christopher’s Clubhouse provides a caring environment for children to learn how to react if a predator ever confronts them. Mika also arms them with self-defense training to help them escape if a predator traps them.
Christopher’s Clubhouse offers a wide variety of services to help protect innocent children including a Family Safety Camp for children ages five thru twelve and their parents. The camp “trains children, in a multi-sensory, fun and interactive environment, to respond to dangerous scenarios. Children are taught to instinctively respond to potential danger without panic. The curriculum includes types of emergencies, how to respond, fire safety, dog safety, bullying prevention, good/bad touch, resistance against abduction and more. Parents participate with their child and have the knowledge and skills to reinforce it at home.”
Christopher’s Clubhouse also teaches Internet safety, self defense for teenage girls and women, adult education and child protection. They also provide fingerprinting and I.D. programs for children.
Mika Moulton suffered a tragic loss in 1995 when a predator on parole murdered her son Christopher. Today Mika continues the fight for legislation for harsher penalties for sex offenders and increasing the statute of limitations for their prosecution.
April is child abuse awareness month and if each us can take just a few minutes out of our day to educate ourselves on how to recognize the signs of child abuse we could save the next innocent child from being lost to the abyss of evil. With every passing moment Mika Moulton honors Christopher’s memory with her passion and dedication to protect every child from being a victim.
There is not a day that goes by that Mika does not think about Christopher and the warmth of his smile and the sound of his laugh and she hopes and prays that she can save just one parent the pain of losing God’s greatest gift to us, our children. You can find out more about Mika and Christopher’s Clubhouse by visiting http://www.christophersclubhouse.org.