LONSBERRY: Brook Stagles story gets even sadder

Brook Stagles was misused in life, and misremembered in death.

Instead of a little girl walking innocently through the first years of childhood, she was murdered, and her name is in the news again and again, in law suits and advertisements, as a reminder of savagery and dysfunction.

A broken family and an overburdened government, and a little girl caught in the middle.

And that goes on even in death.

At least it did last Thursday night as the Rochester Police Department conducted a prostitution sting along Lyell Avenue. 

A sting in which, in turn, both Brook's mother and grandmother were charged with trying to sell themselves.

Probably for drug money.

Among the 17 charged that night were Ashlee Geer -- Brook's mother -- and Kelly Mollnow -- Ashlee Geer's mother and Brook Stagles' grandmother. 

Both have histories of substance abuse, and Kelly Mollnow has a record of prostitution and disorderly conduct arrests. She is known off handedly but accurately as "the one-eyed prostitute," her right eye being whitened and blind.

But what she truly is, like any one of us, is a person stumbling through life, a conflict of good and evil, smart and dumb, darkness and light.

"I love you so much," Kelly Mollnow posted to a daughter on Facebook. "I am your mommy.

"Please send me a message to let me know how you are.

"I miss you and am working hard at staying sober. I want you in my life. I love you and Ashlee so much. You also have a sister Madison and a brother Hunnter (sic). Maddie is gonna be 4 and Hunter is 2.

"I love you.

"Your mommy, Kelly Mollnow."

On her Facebook page, Ashlee Geer noted: "My daughter brook sunny stagles 1-4-13 died on November, 14 2016 r.i.p. I will always love you peanut."

That peanut was in the custody of her father when he and his girlfriend are alleged to have abused and killed her, and when her name and short life were thrust into the public view.

And we saw the tip of the sad iceberg that is this family.

What drives a woman to the streets, and what drives her daughter to follow her? And what is it like to, caught up in a sweep, in one more dark valley of life, see your mother or daughter there as well? Did the one suggest the work to the other, was it a coincidence, where they a package deal? 

Will we ever find a truly effective way to pull people back from the whirlpool of drugs?

Will there be a day of peace and quiet for all, a time beyond suffering and woe?

My faith says yes, my experience says no.

There is no point to this story, except sadness. A sadness that defines the lives of so many, and we fear waits for us all, just beyond the edge of awareness and life, like a monster in the dark.

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