It has been 24 days since Anna Janatkova, 9, from Prague disappeared. The girl vanished on the way home from school in Troja, which is a rather upscale neighborhood. The police searched the area several times and found the girl’s backpack and a water bottle she had in school. They even arrested a suspect whose DNA was found on the backpack. The man (who has a worrying criminal record) claimed to only have touched the backpack and the supervising judge ordered that the man be released from custody. The next day the man “vanished”, too.
No new clues so far. Except for the fact that Anna was not kidnapped for money. Her father offered CZK 3.5 million in a televised speech and so far no kidnappers have contacted anyone.
American readers might be surprised to hear that a nine-year old walks home from school alone (or with a friend). The answer is that this is totally normal in the Czech Republic. (1) Streets are pedestrian-friendly almost everywhere, let alone in neighborhoods like Troja in Prague. (2) We do not have schoolbuses here, so kids are not picked up outside their schools and brought to their doorsteps. There are special public transportation lines that are routed as schoolbuses, though (large cities only).