Polly Klaas’ father, who became known as the first missing girl on the internet when she went missing from a sleepover in 1993, calls California Gov. Gavin Newsom a “pig” for his state’s decision to end the death penalty in 2019.
Richard Allen Davis, who is serving a life term in San Quentin State Prison, was sentenced to death for kidnapping Polly, who was 12 at the time, from a sleepover and killing her.
“Newsom is a pig,” Marc Klaas, who runs a nonprofit to prevent crimes against children called Klaas Kids, told Fox News Digital. “In 2019, he declared a death penalty moratorium in California. He told me, among other things, that he didn’t want to be the governor who executes an innocent person.”
No one in California can be executed while Newsom is governor, according to his moratorium. According to Klaas, Newsom’s decision demonstrates “advocacy for the worst and most dangerous people in our society.”
Newsom’s office linked Fox News Digital to comments made by the governor when he declared the moratorium in March 2019, when California had 737 prisoners on death row.
“The intentional killing of another person is wrong and, as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” Newsom said in a statement at the time. “Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure.
“It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error.”
According to a press statement from Newsom’s office, California is one of four states that have declared a moratorium on the death sentence, along with Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Oregon. According to the release, California has spent $5 billion on the death penalty system and executed 13 individuals since 1978.
Polly Klaas’ disappearance, which made national headlines in newspapers and on television, was also the first high-profile missing persons case to spread on the internet in 1993, when computers were just getting started.
According to Marc Klaas, the rise of the internet and social media has “changed the way the public and law enforcement approach missing children.”
“For example, when we distributed Polly’s missing flyer, we acquired a mailing list, spent $15,000 on stamps, printed thousands of flyers, put them in envelopes and took them to the post office,” he said. “The flyers began arriving about a week after we started the process. Now, you can create a missing child [Facebook] page, fill it with pictures and videos, link articles, television reports, testimonials and law enforcement contact information. This process costs nothing and can be regularly updated.”
Klaas cited Gabby Petito’s disappearance in 2021 as an example of how the internet may aid in the transmission of information about a missing person case.
Later, he said that the case of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl who went missing from a camping trip in upstate New York before being discovered safe days later, “was a great combination of law enforcement response and a bit of luck.”
“Because of law enforcement’s quick and professional response, they were quickly able to identify and arrest the suspect through fingerprint technology,” he said. “The public also immediately picked up on this case as it spread like wildfire through traditional and social media.
“I believe, based on nothing more than my experience, that this was probably a crime of opportunity in that he was lying in wait but did not have a specific target. It also looks like this was probably a kidnapping for ransom, which is rare with these kinds of crimes.”
However, he believes that the rapid expansion of the internet has a negative impact on children.
“On the other side of that coin, the proliferation of child porn has emboldened a new generation of paedophiles to use the internet to access and victimize children,” Klaas explained. “They anonymously infiltrate chat rooms, gaming sites and other online destinations that can leave children vulnerable.”