AL Gov Faces Outrage After Linking Girl’s Homicide To ‘Family Problems’

Some residents in Alabama expressed outrage and frustration on Friday after the governor there made comments tying the discovery of an 8-year-old girl’s body to drugs, alcohol or “family problems.”

Gov. Robert Bentley (R) made the comments on Thursday after searchers found the body of Hiawayi Robinson, who recently went missing and whose death has been ruled a homicide.

Television station WPMI reported that Bentley was asked about the death while he was making a visit to Mobile, Ala. for a manufacturing conference.

“There are things that happen we just don’t understand,” Bentley said, according to the TV station. “There are difficulties in families. We don’t know, maybe drug related. Maybe alcohol related. Maybe family problems. We just don’t know what the situation is.”

The website AL.com reported that that some local residents responded with outrage, given that police had not said anything publicly linking the family to the girl’s disappearance. One said the governor’s comments were “way way way out of line.”

Watch Bentley’s comments from Thursday:

It’s unclear whether the governor was privy to investigative details that had not been made public or whether he was merely speculating. His office did not respond to AL.com’s requests for comment.

Bentley released a statement on Friday along with a $5,000 reward for any information about Robinson’s death, according to WALA.

Dianne and I were heartbroken to learn of the tragic death of this innocent child. We have been praying and following the situation closely, and our prayers for comfort are with Hiawayi’s family.

We won’t rest until this little girl’s killer is brought to justice. Alabama’s state law enforcement agencies have been actively assisting the Prichard Police Department in the investigation into the death of Hiawayi Robinson. I directed the Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Spencer Collier, to go to Prichard and offer any resources needed. As soon as Hiawayi was reported missing, we sent 10 State Bureau of Investigation agents to Prichard, and our Trooper Aviation Unit also assisted in helping to find Hiawayi. Those agents will remain in Prichard until a suspect has been arrested. Furthermore, I’ve directed an increased presence of state troopers in Prichard until the person who committed this terrible act has been found.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: