It was a very distressing and upset call from the boy. A 13-year-old boy threatened to run away and leave his house as soon as he contacted the emergency services.
A police officer drove out to meet the boy after becoming concerned. As he arrived, he was puzzled to discover the teenager had dialed 911 from a store phone, not his home. What was the reason for the crying boy’s escape?
Officer Feliciano Cerra had recently joined the force. He was doing a good job and was well-respected by his teammates.
The cop was only 24 years old when he received the call that would change the course of his career. He expected to experience tricky situations at his job, but this one was not in the manual.
When he began his shift that morning, officer Cerra hoped it would be an uneventful day. He had a lot of action in the past weeks, and no cop loves to deal with tragedy.
But that would sadly not be the case. The cop got more than he bargained for, and he was stumped when he realized what he had to deal with.
The young policeman believed it was easier to prevent crime than deal with it. He invested a lot of his time in educating others and trying to keep people, especially teens, from choosing a path of crime.
He was a volunteer at a youth education organization where he often spoke about the dangers of choosing wrong and tried to inspire kids through example.
However, there was something about Feliciano Cerra that not many people knew. Although he was a people person and got along with every one of his colleagues, some people could tell that there was something he kept to himself.
And they were right. There was something about Cerra’s past that he rarely talked about but which had shaped his life dramatically.
Not many people knew about Feliciano’s background, as he rarely talked in depth about his personal life, let alone about his childhood.
Still, the officer’s past was marked by a series of dark events that irreversibly affected the way he saw life; and, as a matter of fact, those events were the very reason why he decided to become a police officer.
Feliciano Cerra was born and raised in a troubled household. He spent the first years of his life in a rough neighborhood in Richland County, South Carolina, where his parents used to live.
Growing up, he saw a lot of violence and crime on those streets. And that wasn’t all. Ever since he was a child, he was exposed to things that no child should ever be acquainted with.
Richland County was an area with a big deal of gang activity going on. Cerra’s own father was in a gang himself. As a kid, Cerra heard a lot of stories about him. Some of them inspired fear, others admiration, and others inspired both.
His father could be a temperamental man sometimes, and he wasn’t always there to guide, teach, or raise Feliciano. But still, the young Feliciano looked up to him as an awe-inspiring figure, half monster, half warrior. Until one day, something happened.
One night, Feliciano’s father left the house, never to come back. The morning after, some police officers knocked on the Cerras’ door. They told Feliciano and his mom that the father had passed away the night before; just one of many victims of gang warfare.
From then on, Feliciano would have to grow up without his father. And that wasn’t all. Unfortunately, fate had something else on its books for the kid.
Feliciano’s mom couldn’t handle her husband’s loss. She turned to drinking and other substances to cope with her grief, and she lost herself in the process.
In a matter of months, CPS agents were at their door. Shortly after, they took Feliciano’s custody from her. The kid was sent to a boarding school and stayed there until he turned 18.
During his teenage years, Feliciano often felt lost, directionless, and terribly alone. For a minute, he surrounded himself with the wrong people.
He was close to taking a path similar to the one his dad took many years ago. But fortunately, he soon understood that he didn’t want to perpetuate the same vicious cycle that had led to his family’s demise. That’s when he made a decision.
He swore to dedicate his life to serving his community and preventing other people from having to go through the same thing he and his mother had gone through.
That’s when he made the decision to become a police officer. Right after he graduated from high school, he joined police school. In less than a year, he was already a full-fledged officer in the Charleston Police Department.
Only some selected few in the department knew about Feliciano’s past. They were aware that Feliciano didn’t like to talk about it, so they knew better than going around divulging it.
They didn’t really understand why. What was so shameful about it? If anything, Cerra’s past made his resolution and his dedication to law enforcement even more admirable. However, some had their own theories on why Feliciano concealed his past.
Maybe Cerra knew that the real story about his past would change, for better or worse, the image that his superiors and colleagues had of him, and he thought it would get in the way of being judged just by his merits.
That was something about Feliciano Cerra’s character: he always remained humble, despite being one of the most effective and precocious talents in the department. But that day, he would come across something that would put him to the test.
A boy called 911 and was very distraught and upset. That was the moment 13-year-old Cameron Walker made the choice that would make him cross paths with officer Cerra.
The teenager told the emergency services that he couldn’t take it anymore. He was threatening to run away and leave the house. Something had to be done.
The cop assigned to the case by the dispatch was none other than Feliciano Cerra. He quickly gave a status report and headed to the boy’s location.
The officer thought the boy was still home and someone might be with him. He was used to dealing with all kinds of teenagers, some very dangerous. So he thought he was ready for anything, but when he reached the scene, the young cop realized something was terribly wrong.
Concerned, Cerra drove out to meet the boy. When he arrived, he was perplexed to learn the teenager had called 911 not from his home but from a store phone.
The 13-year-old had already left his home. And he wasn’t planning to go back. He was crying and yelling, frustrated that he had ended up in that awful situation.
When the teenager saw the cop approaching him, he got even madder. This wasn’t the help he was expecting, but at the same time, he didn’t really know what he wanted besides running away from home.
The officer finally calmed down the boy and managed to convince him that he was there to help. But the boy was set on continuing his run until the cop finally got to a compromise with him.
The cop got the boy talking and asked him why he had run away from home. At first, he was hesitant, but then he decided to answer the question.
Cameron proceeded to tell Cerra his mother had just disciplined him for using his brother’s gaming system without permission – a minor concern typical for a child. But it wasn’t that small argument that made the boy run away. It was just a small part of a much bigger problem.
The cop convinced the 13-year-old boy to take him home, so he could see with his own eyes what exactly was going on. It was all a mystery at that point.
Officer Cerra pulled over at the boy’s house, and they both went in. What the young cop encountered inside made him realize that the boy wasn’t exaggerating at all. Things were bad.
Apparently, Cameron Walker had had enough of living in that house. His room was in terrible condition, and he was mad at his mother for making him stay there.
The cop couldn’t believe the boy had to live like that. It was an unfortunate situation to be in, and he knew he had to do something to help.
The boy took the cop to his room, which was only four walls, two windows, and a hardwood floor. Cerra was shocked. It was just empty.
The 13-year-old had his clothes on the ground in a black garbage bag. The officer asked him where he slept, and he said, ‘Sometimes on the couch and sometimes on a blow-up mattress.’
It turned out the boy’s family had just moved from Texas to South Carolina to help take care of a sick family member. His mother, a deeply religious woman, was experiencing devastating financial hardships.
And that wasn’t all. There was more to that family than met the eye, and when Feliciano heard the whole story, he couldn’t help but tear up.
Cameron’s mother invited him to sit in the kitchen and gave him a cup of coffee. He told Feliciano all about her and her children’s story and how they were all at their wit’s limits due to their situation.
The mother had recently been fired from her job as a waitress in Port Arthur, Texas. To make things worse, just a few days later, while she racked her brain trying to think of a way to make ends meet, she received a fateful phone call.
Her brother, who lived in Charleston, had gotten terribly sick overnight. The man used to live alone, and the house where the Walkers were staying was his. When Feliciano got acquainted with the Walkers, the woman’s brother had been in the hospital for weeks.
After hearing the story, the police officer asked the woman about her husband, the kids’ father. The woman remained silent for a few seconds. What she said next made Cerra tear up.
Cameron’s father, just like Feliciano’s, used to be a gang member. He had lost his life in a shootout with a rival gang years ago when Cameron was just a toddler.
Fortunately, Cameron’s mother found God right after the tragic event and pushed through thick and thin to keep her children on the good path and give them a decent life. However, it wasn’t always easy.
It had been really hard for Cameron’s mother to raise two children all by herself and without a man figure in the house, all the while depending only on her measly waitress salary and welfare.
Sometimes, the kids grew frustrated and sick of how limited their lifestyle was and how many hardships they had to endure. This had been one of those occasions.
When Feliciano heard that, he couldn’t help but tear up. Suddenly, he remembered his own childhood, with his ill-fated mother and his loneliness at boarding school. He also remembered what he promised himself: he would do everything in his hand to keep other kids from having to go through the same as him.
Cerra knew he couldn’t just leave the child’s life without doing something. So, without Cameron’s or his family’s knowledge, Cerra got to work.
When he came around later, Cameron was shocked. Not only did he now have a bed and comforter to sleep in, but he also had a desk, chair, a TV, and a video game console.
The kid was in tears, and officer Cerra was happy he could help. He actually bought furniture for Cameron’s brother too. The entire family was grateful for the incredibly kind gesture.
As if that wasn’t enough, Cerra spoke about the boy on social media, where the post went viral. Many around the world reached out, asking how they could contribute to the family.
People praised Cerra for his act of generosity. He was truly an example of how every cop should be. He did not only make that boy respect the profession but wished he would become a man like officer Cerra one day.
Officer Cerra felt good about what he had done. Even as a new cop, he was glad he made a difference. But just as he rode the high of helping a child in need, things would take a drastic turn.
He got a call from his dispatcher just a few weeks later with an eerily similar case. It would change his life forever.
Somewhere in Cerra’s neighborhood, a couple was fighting. Their bills were adding up, and under a lot of pressure.
They had no idea their son could hear everything they were talking about. This would lead to him disappearing one day. That’s where Officer Cerra came in.
On a weekday day, just like any other, Kayden had been playing with his toys and enjoying his free time. It was growing late, and everyone was keen to get to bed.
But in the minutes it took his mother to get ready for bed, he vanished. She just couldn’t figure out where he had gone to. Where was he?
This was when Officer Cerra got the call over his radio. He knew it was because of his actions previously. They knew that they could count on him when it came to “child” sensitive matters.
He was more than willing to step up to the plate. He loved kids, and if he could make a difference, then he would.
The call from dispatch explained the situation to Cerra. A young boy named Kayden had gone missing from his house. He was last seen playing with his toys in his living room just before bedtime.
But he wasn’t the only one missing, as Officer Cerra would figure out soon after picking up the case.
The boy wasn’t the only one that was missing. Cerra found out that the family’s black and white terrier had disappeared at exactly the same time. It couldn’t have been coincidental, could it?
Cerra knew that with missing cases, the first 24 hours were the most important. Time was already running out for them.
The police station issued a public statement, “We’ve had resources out all night, and we are being assisted by the military who searched the area from the top by way of a Black Hawk helicopter with FLIR technology. We’ve also had boots on the ground all night.”
Officer Cerra had been quick to start his search for the boy. Would they find him in time, though?
Cerra leads a huge operation to try and find the young boy. They had a search party combing the area at 7 AM right through the whole day. They managed to search 2,000 acres at that time.
Even civilians joined the search. Concerned parents and neighbors all around the area decided to pitch in and try to help out where they could.
There was an uneasy feeling in the air. The night was drawing in, and it was getting dark. The night would be cold for a child out on their own. He knew that he had to hurry up.
Even with all of the manpower that they had, things were looking grim. But they couldn’t give up hope. They had to be motivated to find him.
After searching for hours on end, some people finally decided to go back home. With morale being low, Cerra made the tough call for them to resume everything the next morning.
Cerra knew things that most civilians didn’t. That the woods had plenty of predators that could easily do harm to a child, but Cerra wouldn’t let it come to that.
Cerra started the search again in the nearby woods. But not long after, he found a small trail that leads deeper into the woods.
It was early enough that he had to use his flashlight to see further in the distance. But as he got deeper past the treelines, he heard something strange behind him. There was a growling sound that made his hair stand on end.
Cerra couldn’t believe what he saw next. It had been 22 hours since Kayden had disappeared, and now he was staring right at the child. He was hiding in the bushes nearby, but the growling was only getting louder.
Cerra was glad to see the child, but now he was put in an entirely different situation. What would they do next?
The growling turned out to be none other than Kayden’s faithful companion. The terrier that he had disappeared with. He had kept him safe all of this time.
The dog’s name was Marco, and it had been keeping the young boy safe the entire time he was lost. He wouldn’t have made it without the family pet.
Cerra was relieved to have found both the boy and the dog unharmed. She drove them to the hospital just to make sure there was nothing wrong. But Kayden’s results said he was completely fine.
After getting some much-needed fluids, the boy was back to his happy-go-lucky safe, and Officer Cerra got the credit for finding him.
But Cerra wasn’t the only one recognized for her heroism. Marco was also given some special treats and a lot of extra affection for his good deeds.
Both the police and the neighborhood were surprised by just how loyal the pup was. Soon everyone in the neighborhood knew Marco’s name and would always pet him when they saw him being walked on the pavement. In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.