Who Speaks For Lizzie Mae?

Tara Grant is being buried today in Escanaba, MI. The attractive, upwardly mobile young mom’s disappearance and the subsequent horrific discovery of her body parts (her torso was found in the garage of the family home and the rest of her was scattered througout a Michigan park) garnered nearly around the clock television news coverage.

In the days following her disapperance, and then with the the subsequent arrest of her husband in her murder, people across Michigan and the nation were mesmerized by the case. How could they not be? The media, from TV to newspapers to radio and yes the Internet, hammered away at the story. The Macomb Sheriff held numerous press conferences updating us on the search. Her telegenic sister became the family spokesman.

We followed the manhunt for her accused murderer, and husband, across the northern Michigan wilderness and watched him being arragined from a wheelchair, recovering from frostbite which was a result of his attempted escape through the frigid north woods.

Fox News picked up the story. America’s Most Wanted was ready to feature the case until Stephen Grant’s arrest on the very day AMW was scheduled to air, scuttled that plan. A tragic story played out in front of our very eyes.

But what about Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet? Who you ask? Well, it’s understandable if her case does not sound familiar. But it is also a very sad indictment of our media that most people have not heard about her case yet sat transfixed by the gory soap opera that played out in the Grant case.

You see, Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet’s case apparently just isn’t sexy enough for the press. But it is equally disturbing, if not more so than the Grant case.

But why has there not been the same degree of coverage? Where are the press conferences and constant “breaking news” updates. Breaking news being a pejorative term here of course.

Lizzie Mae has not been seen or heard from since the home she shared with her husband, Roger Sweet, in Brownstown Township, MI went up in flames on January 8. Strange thing was that police found her car with luggage packed inside, including her dentures. But no Lizzie Mae. Neither her credit cards nor her cell phone have been used since her disappearance. Her husband escaped injury, but oh, by the way, he has now been charged with murder. Not Lizzie Mae’s murder however.

Roger Sweet, age 58, has been charged in the 1990 death of his first wife who died under mysterious circumstances and thanks to a botched medical examiner’s report at the time of Mrs. Sweet’s death in 1990, no charges were filed. Police now indicate that the first Mrs. Sweet died from an apparent beating which they allege came at the hands of Roger Sweet who is currently being held in jail without bail. 

Pretty salacious stuff, right? So why has the media essentially buried this story to maybe a 20-second soundbite on TV news or sub-section newspaper coverage?

I am not one to play the race card, but did I mention that Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet is black? Should that matter? Of course not. But when it comes to news ratings, even in death, it apparently matters greatly. 

To this day, Lizzie Mae, now presumed dead by her family, has not been found. We have not been treated to hourly updates on the status of her case, we do not have anybody speaking for her on the local news. We barely even know she existed. But she did,  just as Tara Grant existed. She is apparently dead, much like Tara Grant, a probable victim of domestic violence.

Tara Grant will be buried today in Escanaba, MI. TV crews from around the state and the country will flock to the funeral home for a final farewell to somebody who had so much more life left in her save not for the apparent actions of a sociopathic husband.

Today a body of water will be dredged near Brownstown Township in the search for Lizze Mae Collier-Sweet based solely on a tip from a jailhouse snitch. That fact received 15 seconds of coverage on the TV news.

Ms. Collier-Sweet, just like Mrs. Grant, was loved by family and friends. Unfortunately she or they may not be telegenic, may not be upwardly mobile, and are probably not wealthy . They are probably just ordinary, blue-collar folks. But of course we wouldn’t know for sure because we have not really been allowed to get to know her family.

We grieved for Tara Grant because TV brought her into our living room.

Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet is more than another potential victim of domestic violence. She is also a sad representation of our unbalanced news coverage.

Who speaks for Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet?

Shame on our media. Shame.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Violence, Media, Murder, Race

7 Comments on “Who Speaks For Lizzie Mae?”

  1. David

    What an enlightning and well written article. Perhaps yopu should sent it to some of the local newspapers.

  2. Brett Says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with your opinion here. Sadly, both stories escaped my attention, but I have noted before the trend you point out so eloquently.

    Sometimes it seems media picks a poster-child for coverage and twists every last bit of juice from it until the remaining mass of rind and pulp become unappetizing to the general public. I often wonder why some stories are chosen over others when there are so many to choose from.

    Often it does seem that race and class lines dictate this choice. Media being what it is, I suspect money and politics are the driving forces here. It is so hard to respect news organizations when you become aware of these aggregious disparities in reporting. When “hip” and “trend” and “fad” apply to your choice of news stories, you are no longer a responsible… and in the end reliable source of news.

    Mainstream media is big-business now, subject to target-marketing philosophies. Shame on them, yes. But that shame is raking in dough as they give the majority what they want to hear. What will stop them? What incentive do they have to report on issues certain people don’t care about? And even more vague: do they report what you care about, or do you care about it because it is reported?

    Obviously, with great power comes great responsibility and there some serious negligence problems.

  3. Mary Anne Blessing Says:

    I have to disagree with you- I knew Liz and I still was wondering why this story was getting so much press when other abuse stories don’t. From the stories I have seen and heard about, all the people at the prayer service and her godson speak loudly for her. She has a number of friends that are online frequently checking for updates on Roger and any real news about Liz’s whereabouts.
    I have to agree with you about Roger’s first wife’s death- if the medical examiner had agreed with the claims from the funeral home and original report- Roger wouldn’t have been free to hurt anyone else.
    Are you following the court case about the sexual misconduct?- I haven’t heard anything about that in awhile, or about the coming charges from the FBI looking at his computer. What’s happening with that? Thanks for writing Liz’s story.

  4. Marie saucki Says:

    I agree with the slanted tilt to the Grant story. However, I cannot agree that it was a race issue. In January of this year a white, blond and blue-eyed couple was carjacked. She was forced to watch as the 4 black assailants; sodomized, tortured and castrated her boyfriend. She was raped and tortured for 2 days before they poured cleaning solvent down her throat and torched her. Where was the coverage on this story which also happened in January. This was quite simply full of the sex, murder and race hate items that the media loves…..Or was it because the couple was white and the assailants were black. Hmm, just a thought. I tried to query by Lizzie Collier-Sweet several times during the Grant fiasco and there was very little to read. I feel for all of the victims of these crimes and hope that the media can see through color in the future.

  5. Becca Says:

    You don’t obviously know anything about this story. I do, and i’m appalled at how you wrote it. I am close friend of the family. There is NOTHING SEXY about the story and it is a horrible way to describe it. Many of her friends and family are all worried on her whereabouts and I really don’t think you should write about something you don’t know about.

  6. Becca –

    You completely misunderstood my meaning. I have been in close contact with family and friends and the police on this case. I did not describe it as “sexy.” Only the fact that our failed members of the electronic media only cover stroies based on ratings. “Sexy” have a dual meaning here.

    If I did not care abot this story, I would not have spent hours researching nor personally attended the air, land and water searches. It appalls me that this case is not deemed “sexy” enough to be properly covrered by the media.

  7. Deb R Says:

    I agree. The use of “sexy” in Dave’s article was not meant the way that you took it, Becca. Lizzie Mae’s disappearance was at the same time that Tara Grant went missing. Dave was pointing out that for some reason Tara Grant was getting a lot of media attention, yet Lizzie’s disappearance was not. The media sometimes doesn’t like to follow stories that don’t have beautiful people or lots of money or lots of blood and gore. Lizzie’s story at first glance doesn’t seem to have any of those, therefore, the media pass it up and don’t write about it. Many people are appalled at that fact, because if the media had paid more attention to her story, she might be found now. Hopefully she is alive and well and is just biding her time before she comes back.

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