|A view of Chicago's downtown from the city's West Side where Fountain grew|
up and for which he named the publishing company he founded: WestSide Press.
Part of this week’s column appeared in a column by the author in the Chicago Sun-Times in March 2011.
By John W. Fountain
His name was Rodney McAllister Jr. I became aware of his story in March 2001 while a national correspondent for The New York Times. The 10-year-old St. Louis boy had not come home one evening. The following morning, someone saw a pack of stray dogs making a ruckus at a nearby park. He went to investigate. They were gnawing something. There, beneath a pine tree... a child. It turned out to be Rodney, who, according to officials, was mauled to death.
I quickly made telephone calls and found community leaders and others who questioned how something like this could happen, not in a Third World country, but in a sturdy metropolis, in one of the world's richest countries. That some reportedly heard a child’s screams the night before but never went to investigate made the story even more troubling.
It was clear from my preliminary reporting that there was a story here, about a man-child said to sometimes wear shoes several sizes too big, a boy beloved by his teachers and classmates who had fallen through the cracks. A story about how his death galvanized a community.