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Ten years later, cousin of murdered girl Carlie Brucia forges on

Holbrook's Matt Barbis launched the Rose Brucia Educational

Holbrook's Matt Barbis launched the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation in memory of his cousin, who was abducted and killed in 2004 in Sarasota, Fla. Credit: Rose Brucia Foundation

Carlie Brucia’s Sunday had started like so many others — playing with a friend. It would end in tragedy.

Carlie, 11, was walking home from a friend’s house in Sarasota, Fla. when she was abducted and killed, the kidnapping caught on a nearby surveillance video. Saturday will mark the 10-year anniversary.

“It’s unbelievable that it’s been 10 years,” said Brucia’s cousin, Matt Barbis of Holbrook. “It’s all a blur, but a day doesn’t go by without me thinking about it. Everything I do, I do to try to make sure no other family goes through what we went through.”

In response to her death, Barbis launched the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, an organization dedicated to teaching kids about keeping safe around strangers. Rose came from the name of Barbis' grandmother.

Since 2005, he has spoken to 60,000 New York children at 400 events in 60 school districts and 47 private schools. Every lesson, tailored for various age groups, is about helping kids recognize the telltale signs of stranger danger.

Through the organization’s website, Rose Brucia has gone global. Since Jan. 2012, a digital program that teachers can access has been downloaded 3,000 times in 80 countries.

“Our goal is to get this program in front of every child possible,” Barbis said.

Efforts like Rose Brucia’s are taking hold, according to Nancy McBride, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

McBride said an analysis of more than 8,000 failed child abduction attempts nationwide over the last eight years showed that in 83 percent of the cases, children knew what to do. (In the other 17 percent a parent or Good Samaritan intervened.)

“It’s really important to start a basic foundation with your children,” McBride said.

That’s what Barbis plans to continue to do, most recently releasing an instructional video about a car that approaches a child.

The child is saved at the last minute — a happy ending, unlike the tragic day a decade ago.

“I’d do anything to trade in what happened,” Barbis said. “As much good as has come from this organization, I’d do anything for Carlie to be in her father’s arms.”

Mobile users can view the video at

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