It is such a symbolic number for young people. It means their first foray into adulthood. It means no more high school. It sometimes means freedom from the clutches of hovering parents.
It also means you are teetering on leaving your teens. And stepping into the rest of your life.
Sadly, for too many… the steps end there. The rest of too many young lives come to a screeching halt.
Let that sink in. We are losing young people more than ever. Teens who have so much to offer. So much talent going to the grave.
The city of Houston just had 6 people under the age of 17 lose their lives to gun violence over 3 weeks.
We often hear children are our greatest resource. Yet too many of us sit idly by as we lose this most precious commodity.
She would give you the shirt off her back. She was still governed by the age of innocence. Too young to recognize that evil lurks around too many corners. Just itching to reach out and slay your soul. Leave you lifeless. Usually for nothing. Instead she was baffled by the beauty of butterflies. Her room littered with pictures of them. Talya Torres dreamed of flying freely like a butterfly. In all her splendor, in her innocent beauty, she wanted to take flight…and explore the world with no cares or worries.
Talya graduated from Villa Rica High School. She was enrolled in college. She didn’t just want to take flight. Talya wanted to repair the flights as well. She studied Aviation Mechanics. But she’s been grounded. By the evil lurking around that corner I mentioned.
3 days after she moved out of her mother’s home, to be closer to college, Talya’s heart beats no more.
It ended for her…at 18.
I was working the overnight shift. It was around 3 that morning. We got a call from someone about a car fire in their neighborhood on Connally Court in East Point. Our initial reaction was, oh it’s just a car fire. Happens all the time. Then the caller said something that raised our eyebrows. He said, “police said there was a body inside the car.” I knew the area well. It’s a quant community. Filled with older homes. It’s about a mile from Atlanta city limits. It’s near where a teenager murdered well-known community activist Barney Sims at his home.
As I arrived on scene I noticed firefighters working to put the fire out. The Medical Examiner was busy, dutifully performing his tasks. After the M.E.’s office removed the body, I went on air and said, “Somebody’s loved one, somebody’s child, won’t be coming home tonight.” I soon learned that someone was Talya.
Gone. At 18.
Iseir George was at his Clayton County home December 21st. He was home from Albany State University for the holidays. Iseir loved his family. Tremendously. He looked forward to spending Christmas with them. Iseir had dreams, too. He graduated from North Clayton High with honors. He wanted to make a positive impact. Use his talents to make the world a better place. He wasn’t about taking lives. He wanted to save them. And that’s what he did when his sister, Iesha, needed a bone marrow transplant. Iseir donated his and she is alive. She is also eternally grateful.
Now Iseir’s heart beats no more.
Iseir got a phone call as he relaxed and enjoyed the company of his family. The caller needed him to step outside. Iseir walked out. Not knowing his end date was fast approaching. His father recalls hearing what sounded like gunfire. He rushed outside. There was Iseir. On the ground. Wounded. “Get help, he said, life leaving him like a rocket taking off into orbit. He would die later.
Neighbors reported seeing an SUV speed off. Detectives checked Iseir’s phone. They say the last phone call came from a phone belonging to Carina Robertson.
When officers went to her home they saw the SUV that fit the description of the one a witness says left the scene. Police say Robertson told them the car belonged to her boyfriend 24-year-old Dakarai Tolbert.
She had no idea where he was, police said. Police later found Tolbert, Robertson and their two children eating at a Chuck E. Cheese. Both were arrested. Tolbert charged with Murder. Robertson charged with Hinder Apprehension of a Criminal. Police haven’t released a motive. This is just some of Tolbert’s arrest record.
While Tolbert is in custody, police continue searching for Talya’s killer.
Detectives say hours after the murder surveillance cameras captured a man using her debit card at a BB&T Bank ATM in the Camp Creek Marketplace in Southwest Atlanta. He got out of a white car.
The suspect had on distinctive black suede shoes with a gold emblem on top.
Talya’s mother misses her daughter more than you will ever know. She planned for her daughter to usher her into old age. That won’t happen. She’ll never see her graduate college. Get married. Have children. Iseir’s family is suffering the same awful fate. The tender memories end at 18. Talya and Iseir will always be 18. And that’s sad.
We live in a mean, corrosive world. Well, the world isn’t mean or corrosive. It’s the people. At least a segment of them. We have to figure out why some of us have no value for life. This is a crisis. We can not just sit idly by and watch our young people leave earth this way. I think of the immigrants who trek here because of the violence in their home country. I want to scream to them it’s violent here, too!
We must do better. 18-year-old lives matter. Talya and Iseir, and so many other teens’ parents, shouldn’t have to bury them. Life isn’t supposed to work that way. Stop the violence. Let our young people live. They’re supposed to grow old. Not die young.
The detective on Talya’s case says he has received information about the case he is sorting through. If you have any information about the murder of Talya Torres please contact East Point Police.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.