Foster mother accused of murdering Rilya Wilson, 4, to be tried 12 years after girl's disappearance
The woman accused of murdering a four-year-old foster child more than a decade ago is finally being tried.
Rilya Wilson's case drew national attention because she reportedly vanished in 2000 from her foster home in Miami, but it took the state of Florida two years to realize she was missing.
She became a symbol of children who slipped through the cracks of the social safety net and led to major reforms at the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Vanished: Rilya Wilson, 4, was missing for two years before the state of Florida realized and began to search for her
Trial: Rilya (right) disappeared in 2000 at age 4. Her foster mother, Geralyn Graham, now 66, is going on trial more than a dozen years later
Rilya would be 16 years old, if she were still alive.
Jury selection in the trial of Geralyn Graham begins on Monday. But the case is far from airtight.
Lost: Rilya's body has never been found
Rilya's body has never been found. There are no witnesses to the killing and little physical evidence.
Instead, prosecutors are relying on a confessions Graham allegedly made to other prison inmates -- saying that she killed the girl and buried her near a lake.
Graham was convicted of collecting government payments for the child for months after she disappeared.
Critics say social workers for the DCF allowed Rilya to fall through the cracks and neglected their duties by failing to check up on her.
Her disappearance led to the passage of Rilya Wilson Act, which required all foster children in Florida to attend school and required schools to report unexcused absences to authorities.
One reason Rilya's disappearance went unnoticed for so long was the her caretaker, who was Graham's roommate, withdrew her from school.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who sponsored the Rilya Wilson Act when she was in the Florida legislature, wrote in an op-ed to the Miami Herald that the trial of Graham should receive the same attention as the trial of Casey Anthony.
'We must fight for Rilya because her murder trial, like Caylee’s murder trial, deserves the national spotlight. Nancy Grace and the national media should dedicate their time and resources to Rilya’s trial, and simply not ignore her because she is a child of color. This happens too often,' she wrote.