2015-APR-13 [MON] 18:30 (PMT) - ONE MISSING PERSON
2015-APR-13 [MON] 18:30 (PMT) Table Of Contents
ONE MISSING PERSON is one person too many, but ONE MISSING PERSON is way easier to comprehend than the thousands of people that actually go missing every year, and not just in the US either, but from all over the world.
And we're not just talking about the people that are found or return after a few days, we're only talking about the people that are never ever seen again. Although it's true that many go willingly, it's also true that no one knows how many of those that go willingly that there really are, or how many that didn't go willingly, or how many from each that are now dead. In short, no one really knows how many missing persons there really are all together, and it seems to us like an almost impossible task to actually get any really hard numbers to work with.
When you do enough research into the subject of missing persons, you begin to realize that the best numbers themselves are smokey at best, and most people tend to be optimistic at worse. Different groups give different numbers, but most of them in the US agree that the number is atleast 40,000 children and adults go missing every year.
From that number we guess-timate that maybe 1% (400) are missing unwillingly, and that's a huge number, but worse is that we honestly believe that's possibly an under estimate on our part, but despite all the other missing persons out there, the ones that go unwillingly are the ones that we're more concerned with than all the other ones combined. It seems to us that the problem is unwittingly being swept under the rug as something that rarely happens, so don't worry, and be happy.
The problem seems over whelming to us, but no one really seems to be really concerned about it all, except for those who are left behind, the family and friends who are always left wondering what really happened to their loved ones and friends, and as time passes, many of them stop remembering or even caring.
And it's not like there aren't any groups out there really trying to tackle the problem, but really, it's not something that should be pushed aside onto the other guy. You know that guy. He's the guy that everything bad happens to, and yes it is sad that it always happens to that guy, but what exactly does that have to do with me, and more importantly, why should I even care at all? Let the other guy worry about their problems, and I'll worry about my own. I got enough of my own to keep me busy until the day I die. Sheesh, the nerve of some people asking me to worry about some evil fantasy that no one else in authority seem to be concerned about. If there was a real problem, it would be all over the TV and the interent and the 24 hour news services would be all over it daily, and what's left of the print media would be screaming headlines all over the place. When that happens, then I'll worry about it, until then, I got bills to pay.
When you actually look at just ONE MISSING PERSON, out of a thousand, and apart from all the others, is when the problem really hits home. You can almost see the aura of anguish surround the family and friends as they try to understand just what the fuck happened. Now try dealing with feelings of over a thousand missing people and their family and friends, from all over the world, every single year. That works out to over two people going missing, somewhere in the world, every single day. We find it impossible to believe that this is really just a small local problem, it's really bigger than most people think, and maybe that is because it's more of a local problem, than a national one, let alone an international one, and it's not going to go away any time soon. It may even get worse. We hope it doesn't, but because of the way missing person cases are handled, it's always something that's in the back of our minds when we actually do some research on the subject.
And that's when it started to become overwhelming, at least to us anyway. In the beginning, we didn't just want to look at numbers. We wanted to look at each individual case and create a database, not a big database, but something big enough to keep track of some of the missing person cases out there. We wanted to keep the focus on the United States, because if we multiplied the number of missing by all the countries in the world, and although wars and terrorist actions are important from that missing person's point of view, it's all way beyond the ability of two people (me and Dave) to handle. We have to draw some lines somewhere, and unfortunately that's going to have to be one of them.
But no worries, because of the way we gathered our info, we still are aware of cases outside the US, and definitely don't ignore them.
Which brings up the question, how were we going to get our case material togetber. Or specifically, where were we going to go to get our source material? We decided to start with a "keyword" search and alert engine. The best around at the time was "Google". We replaced "keyword" with "missing" and hit the "create (as-it-happens) alert" button, and sat back to wait for our first case. We got one, within an hour, and then another, and another, and another. Even to this day, on average, we get around a hundred keyword alerts for the word "missing" every single day. Some are not missing person related, but nine out of ten are. And even though more than half of them are not recent, like that day, there are usually around one or two of them that are suspicious enough to warrant further investigating, every single day.
Also, in the beginning, we once actually broke down one-day's worth of e-mail "Google" alerts into the different type of alerts we were getting to document the numbers. It was researched and written with serial killers in mind, but still relevant to the missing person discussion. Here it is, if you want to see exactly what we see everyday on average:
Or just read the following to get the gist:
"On any given day (within a 24 hour period), we receive (on average) around 100 (or more) 'Google Alerts' about news items that include the keyword 'missing' in it somewhere. The ones we received from July 21st to the 22nd are shown below (after the following breakdown):
Alerts: NMPA: MPr: FMP: PSKr: ===================================================== July 21 8 2 6 2 0 5:15 PM 13 4 9 0 0 6:21 PM 7 2 5 1 1* 7:40 PM 7 2 5 0 2* 10:02 PM 9 2 7 1 0 12:19 AM 5 2 3 1 1* 1:28 AM 3 1 2 1 0 3:51 AM 4 0 4 0 0 4:58 AM 7 1 6 4 0 8:34 AM 17 8 10 3 1* 10:56 AM 17 3 14 5 2* 11:43 AM 2 0 2 1 0 1:12 PM 9 2 7 1 0 ===================================================== TOTAL 108 29 80 20 7 NMPA = Non-Missing Person Alerts MPr = Missing Person related FMP = Found Missing Persons PSKr = Possibly Serial Killer related NMP = Non-Missing Person MP = Missing Person 8:34 = One Alert included 2 NMP alerts and 1 MP alert * PSKr reports are indicated below
"The reports below that we single out as serial killer related, are not a result of any 'information' released by anyone with the authority to make that kind of decision, but are indicated as such because we think they might 'possibly' be related. Read the articles yourself and make up your own mind... "
We then listed each individual news alert with it's headline and link followed by a short blurb from each one.
It wasn't the sheer number of reports that got us, but the emotional roller-coaster ride that went along with each individual one. We started out by each of us getting maybe two or three done a day, but had to stop for a while, but after a while, we couldn't take it any more. We still get the alerts, but we really dread reading them, and once in a while we do actually open them and read them, but it's not long before we had to stop again.
We then got the bright idea to include "body found", "skeletal remains", "unidentified", and "unsolved" as part of our research source compilation. That's when we realized, even if you dismiss the missing person cases as bogus, there are certainly a large number of bodies (and skeletal remains) being found, to this day, that still remain unidentified. The question we have to ask then is where are all these unidentified bodies coming from if there isn't some kind of missing person problem going on?
Most states have an online list of the unidentified bodies somewhere on, and most times located in, the state's health department site. If you look them up, you'll see that the average state has about 50 to 100 unidentified bodies. That's 2,500 unidentified missing persons on file, right now as you read this. Many go back over the years, but that's still a lot of unidentified dead people.
Before we write about unidentified bodies, let's do a little web searching, using some different keywords, and see what we can up with. We highly recommend that you do your own web research and always (ALWAYS) double check what we write (or imply) that something is a fact and, please, feel free to contact us if you think we are wrong about something. It helps keep us honest.
The first keyword we'll search for is "missing".
We came up with a lot of stuff about movies and TV shows called "Missing", then right almost at the top was The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Here's their blurb:
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
We'll get back to this link in a little bit, because almost right under that (a couple links down) was a link to the Wikipedia page, "Missing Person":
"A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as their location and fate are not known. Laws related to missing persons are often complex since, in many jurisdictions, relatives and third parties may not deal with a person's assets until their death is considered proven by law and a formal death certificate issued. The situation, uncertainties, and lack of closure or a funeral resulting when a person goes missing may be extremely painful with long-lasting effects on family and friends.
Then after all that, a couple news articles about a missing Mom and daughter that were a result of our original search that caught our attention:
Mom and daughter, 14, vanish after trip to NYC's Times Square - NY USA
"A mother and daughter trip last month to New York City's Times Square has turned into a missing persons mystery after the pair vanished without a trace.
"Police said Sunday they are continuing to investigate the disappearance of Long Island widow Iona Costello, 51, and her 14-year-old daughter Emily, but the investigation has generated few leads... "
We don't know what to think about this one. It could be either an abduction or a runaway. It's interesting though the stories the national media here in the US decides to run with when it comes to missing person cases, and we'll probably write more about that later also.
There was also a story about a missing nine-year-old girl who everyone fears has drowned in the nearby lake, hundreds missing as a migrant boat sinks in Mediterranean (north of Libya), a body found in a lake maybe a missing canoeist, and every once in a while some good news like a thirteen year old girl was found safe and unharmed, but sadly for the most part, most of the "missing person" news is depressing as hell.
THE NEXT KEYWORD we searched for was "missing person". This is where things started getting a little more interesting, if not a whole lot more depressing also than when we just searched the word "missing", all alone.
The Wikipedia "Missing Person" link was right at the top. It then list local links for missing person departments in the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Patrol, and after that a link to NamUS:
"The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records. NamUs is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public from all over the country in hopes of resolving these cases... "
"How Big Is the Problem?"
The number, 40,000, of human remains that still await identification, was mind boggling to us, because as we wrote earlier that we thought it was around 2,500, but 40,000 is even worse, way worse. That's an average of 800 unidentified bodies for each state that are still waiting for a name.
Although unidentified remains are definitely part of the missing person problem, they are just a sub group of the whole problem. That problem is so vast that we find it hard to grasp that more people aren't worried about it, at least to the level that we think it should worry people. We have to admit that the problem is relatively rare. At least to the extent where everyone has a family member, loved one or just a friend that has gone missing. This maybe why, if not at least one of the reasons why, missing persons aren't considered a bigger problem than we think it should be. But, that's a cop-out in our opinion.
Using the US as a baseline, let's look at some real numbers, or estimates, so that we can showyou that it's not just some small little problems that's extrememly rare, but first let's look at the reality of the problem. First, most of the persons that go missing are found or return within 30 days. For arguements sake, let's say that number is 99%. That leaves 1% of those that go missing are either found or return after 90 days or are never seen again. We'll get to that 1% number (or estimate) in a minute.
But first, let's discuss why that number is an estimate and not a real hard number. Let's start with what is a hard number, and why is it different from an estimate? A hard number is a number that is virtually undisputable, while an estimate can be disputed. One of the major reasons why missing person numbers are estimates and not hard numbers is because of the following that we quoted from the NamUs site above:
"...Cases of missing persons 18 years old and younger must be reported, but reporting adult missing persons cases is voluntary. Only a handful of States have laws that require law enforcement agencies to prepare missing person reports on adults... "
Some people, such as those who work the sex trade, move around a lot and it's difficult to really keep track of them, and unless they actually keep in regular touch with family or friends outside of their trade who would report them missing, they are very rarely reported missing. Plus, because of it's very nature (being illegal almost everywhere in the US), sex trade workers very rarely contact the police about fellow workers going missing.
Also worth mentioning here is that one of the most popular victims of serial killers are those in the sex trade and others on the fringes of society, and one of the first symptoms that they're being targeted are missing person reports, which just happens to be where a good database of missing persons is lacking for the reasons we just mentioned. Those on the fringes of society are mostly there because they are involved in some kind of illegal activity that they like to keep a low profile about, and reporting anything to the police just goes against that whole idea, which is also the reason they are easy targets for serial killers, and also one of the many reasons why a serial killer aren't always suspected until many bodies start showing up, usually of people who either were reported missing or should have been, but weren't.
These are some of the many reasons why there are no really hard numbers for that 1% we mentioned above, and why there are only estimates.
Here are some numbers from the FBI website:
"During 2013, 627,911 missing person records were entered into NCIC, a decrease of 5.1% from the 661,593 records entered in 2012. Missing Person records cleared or canceled during the same period totaled 630,990.
The NCIC (National Crime Information Center) is an FBI clearinghouse of crime data which is available electronically 24/7, and is where the police can file missing person reports, and also research for missing person information. Most of it is available to the public. It's a good start, but what it really needs is to make filling reports mandatory and not voluntary like many states and jurisdictions allow.
But the important numbers to take note of from the NCIC are 661,593 (missing person records entered) and 630,990 (records cleared or cancelled) from 2012. Those numbers translate into, of the 661,593 that were originally reported missing in 2012, 30,603 are still missing.
Even though the number 30,603 is not 1% of 630,990 (it's actually 4.55%, when rounded up), it's still just an estimate, though, of the real numbers of the still-missing persons out there, and as scary as over 30,000 people still-missing is, remember that is every single freakin' year. That's worth repeating, according to the FBI datatbase (NCIC), over 30,000 people go missing every single year, that are still missing, every single year.
Every single freakin' year.
Of course, 30,000 is way less than the number we quoted (40,000) at the beginning of our piece, 30,000 missing persons, per year is still a pretty alarming number to us. To put that into perspective, that's 600 missing persons from each state, per year, or over 1 person going missing from each state every day, that are still-missing.
But since I'm a skeptic, and Dave sometimes is, we had to wonder about those numbers a little. Dave wondered a little, but I wondered a lot. That meant I had to do two things. The first was to go into the FBI site and find the actual stats, and second, was to verify these estimates with other group numbers, like the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) and other groups like it.
OK, we went back to the FBI site we mentioned above, and below are the actual stats for 2013, and we were wrong. I thought 30,000 was too big a number. It seems that Dave made an assumption and subtracted the wrong numbers. It seems from this table, that there were a lot more missing person cases removed (630,990) than there were originally entered for that year (627,911).
Missing Person ----------------------------------------------------- Active Entries as of 01/01/2014 84,136 Total File Transactions 1,810,409 ----------------------------------------------------- Entries 627,911 Removed 630,990 -----------------------------------------------------
Our bad. This proves that you should always check your work and our work too, because it never hurts to double check. What's that old woodcutter's phrase? "Measure twice, and cut once." That is so true.
Anyway, you can see the rest of the numbers at the link above, but the number that intrigues us is the "Active Entries" number, "84,136," so we went back to do a little more reading. According to the FBI, NCIC page,
"The National Crime Information Center's (NCIC) Missing Person File was implemented in 1975. Records in the Missing Person File are retained indefinitely, until the individual is located, or the record is canceled by the entering agency. The Missing Person File contains records for individuals reported missing who:
All important information, but the two passages we're interested in right now is the year 1975 (the year the (NCIC) Missing Person File was implemented in), and if you that year (1975) from this year (2015), and divide that number (40) into 84,136, you have an average of over 2,000 (2,103.4) persons go missing every year (according to the NCIC records), and (as of December 31, 2013) have never been seen again, and a little over half of those numbers (1,088.875) are under the age of 21, on average over a 40 year period. The real estimates are probably different.
Although that number (2,103.4) is still an estimate, it's still a much more reasonable number to work with than 30,000, but that doesn't make it any less scary. When you do the math, that comes out to an average of 40 persons per state, per year, that go missing and are never seen again every year, or a little over an average of 3 persons per month per year, in each state.
You may not think that's scary, but every single missing person (each with their own family, friends and loved ones left to wonder what happened) is scary to us, and when you multiply that by 84,136, it's just too large a number for us to really comprehend. It jumps scary to a whole new level for us.
And then, when you consider that 84,136 is merely an estimate, it's not unreasonable (to us anyway) to add another 10% to that number, or even 20% to end up with a number over 100,000 persons have gone missing, and have not been seen again, since 1975. Of course, this number doesn't include persons that have gone missing and were later found dead, and that's where the tragedy lies.
At least the families of those found have some kind of closure, albeit sometimes a sad one, but what about those who never know closure.
Maybe those who went missing got lucky and somehow never got on anybodies radar, have completely forgotten their families, maybe that part was easy, and are happy out there somewhere, never caring about the people they left behind, but we think it's not an easy thing to do. It's not impossible, but a very improbable thing to do, although the younger someone is when they disappear, the easier it is to do it, in our opinion.
BUT, WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE THAT GO UNWILLINGLY?
Before we get into that, let's see if we can verify this 2,103.4 number first, or at least the 1,088.875 number (those under the age of 21 that have gone missing, on average per year, in the last 40 years).
We went to the The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website and found that their numbers mostly come from our source at the FBI, the NCIC database, so they're probably not going to be much different than ours, but one thing that did stand out for us:
"The first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. The murder of an abducted child is rare, and an estimated 100 cases in which an abducted child is murdered occur in the U.S. each year. A 2006 study indicated that 76.2 percent of abducted children who are killed are dead within three hours of the abduction."*
Keep in mind though, that this number (100), is not part of the 2,103.4 (1,088.875 under the age of 21) number (that go missing every year and still have not been found), because those 100 have been found. We still don't know what happened to all those other missing persons.
There was a lot more information we gathered from the NCJRS pdf file, and should be read by anyone interested in the subject, but we found this part important enough to include here:
"The murder of a child who is abducted by a stranger is a rare event. There are estimated to be about 100 such incidents in the United States each year, less than one-half of one percent of the murders committed. There is approximately one child abduction murder for every 10,000 reports of a missing child... "
When you do the math, that comes out to 1 million missing children are reported missing every year, with 1 in 10,000 ending up in a person under 18 being found dead, but like we wrote earlier, that doesn't give us a number for those never found.
We haven't found that number yet at either the NCMEC site or in the NCJRS pdf file, so we decided to take this show on the road and visit some other sites (most are listed in "OUR SOURCES" section below), but we couldn't seem to find any numbers anywhere that are different then the FBI numbers, as a matter of fact, all of them quote from those same statistics. If anyone reading this can find a source that provides different numbers feel free to contact us at any time with this information, and thank you in advance.
Assuming the number 2,103.4 is correct, and also assuming more than half of those were lucky enough to not only go missing willingly, but have also been lucky enough to never been found, but we also believe it's reasonable to also assume that at least 25% of those still missing, went missing unwillingly. That's at least 500 persons go missing every year unwillingly, on average over 40 years, that are never seen again. That's almost ONE MISSING PERSON per state, per month of every year in the last 40 years, that go missing and are never seen again. We have no proof that this number is correct, but neither does anyone have any proof that it isn't.
Now, you may think we are inflating the numbers of the unsolved missing person case, but there is some proof that we maybe on the right track. Remember back up towards the beginning of this blogpost when we mentioned the estimated 40,000 bodies found throughout the US that have still not been identified?
Well, that number is actually half as many as the total number of persons still considered missing according to the FBI statistics (84,136), but twice as many as our 25% estimate of 500 missing persons per year (20,000 after the math is done).
The question then becomes two fold. How many of those unidentified persons went missing unwillingly? We're not sure, nor is anyone else for that matter, but we feel and believe 20,000 (500 a year since 1975) go missing unwillingly is not an impossible number, nor is it improbable. We even think (especially Dave) the number is more than twice that.
Assuming 500 persons go missing unwillingly every year, the question then becomes, how many of those missing are dead and how did they die? Which brings up a follow up question, what happened to the unwilling missing that didn't die?
We will leave the follow up question for later and try and answer the first question first. One way to answer this is by studying the unidentified bodies found. How did they die, and if they were killed, who killed them?
Sometimes the answers to those question are hard to determine. If a body isn't found right away, and has had time to decompose, it becomes more difficult to determine absolutely how someone died.
For example, if someone is manually strangled by someone else, the three most important bits of evidence to prove this can disappear if the body has had enough time to decompose, especially if it's found in an area where animals can get a hold of it. These three key bits of evidence, are burst blood vessels in the eyes, bruising about the neck, and a broken hyoid bone.
This is just one example of the problems associated with investigating unidentified bodies. Another is that without an identity, you have major problems even knowing where to begin. Why is that you may ask, and a good question it is.
Assuming it's a homicide, let's answer that question with how homicidesare investigated. Missing persons, and other unidentified bodies, are kind of investigated in the same way, except in homicide and abduction cases where you definitely know that you are looking for a suspect or suspects.
The first thing investigators do is secure the crime scene, which is usually where the body is found. Next is to secure evidence from the scene including performing an autopsy on the body.
The next thing investigators or their agents do is try to find and interview witnesses, which also includes getting together a timeline of the unidentified person's movements the last time she was seen alive which is usually someone who knew the person. But, if the unidentified person was not from the area where their body was found and no witnesses can be found either who saw the unidentified person before, who do you get this information from then, and how would you proceed if you didn't have that information?
One way is from the unidentified person themselves. Their fingerprints, tatooes, DNA, or dental records, will many times help solve that problem, and when that doesn't work the media can sometimes help solve the problem by publicizing or posting photos (or reconstructed photos), on the internet, tv, posters, or even newsprint. Many times, that works also.
But unfortunately, without an identity, and if the victim wasn't from the area where the body was found, there is simply no way to go much further with an investigation. Where do you go to search for the killer? Maybe an investigation will get lucky and something like a similarity with other murders will lead them to solving the crime in that way, and maybe learn the unidentified persons identity in that way.
It has happened, and you can verify everything we just wrote by either reading any encyclopedia about serial killers or going online and visiting some of the sites about serial killers or by just watching those true crime shows that seem to be everywhere on cable nowadays.
The one thing they don't talk about much are budgets and how that budget is structured and why, but we'll write more about that later.
Right now we'd like to discuss dental records. One part of the body that is usually left intact when an unidentified person is found, are the teeth. If there were a true national database on missing person that included a requirement for each state to obtain and file the dental records, when possible, of each missing person missing for more than 30 days, but unfortunately there are many states that don't require it. We know Washington does have something on the books about that, but we're not sure about how many other states do, but we do know that not all of them do. We believe that if every state was require to do it, many of the unidentified would be identified, and many of the missing found. It won't solve all the problems with the missing, but we believe it would put a big dent in finding closure for the family and friends of the missing.
When all is said and done, we believe that 25% of the 40,000 estimated unidentified persons were homicides. We'll probably do another blogpost about this very soon, but that's really only part of the story.
NOT ALL OF THE UNWILLING MISSING ARE HOMICIDES
Sadly, like we just wrote, homicides are only part of the missing person story. What that means is out of the over half million children and adults that go missing every year (on average), only at least 2,000 (on average) are never seen again. That's only one out of every 300 persons, that are reported missing, are never seen again. Most of the other 299 return home in the first 30 days. This is a good thing, but it's also the reason why we believe that, unless it's an obvious abduction, missing persons aren't taken as seriously as we believe they should. We can understand the reluctance to take every single report seriously, not only because of budget issues, but also because most of them return home soon after they leave.
We can understand the reluctance, but we don't agree with it. Law Enforcement (LE) budgetary and manpower (and womanpower) problems are a poor excuse for not aggresively investigating every single missing person case, at least more than they do now.
Gladly though, and although older children are taken less seriously, missing children cases, overall, are taken more seriously when compared to missing adult cases, but that is mostly because of the adult's right to privacy. Unless the missing adult is involved in some kind of fraud (like insurance fraud) or wanted for some other kind of crime (like robbery or murder); if an adult wants to disappear, there is very little LE can do about it.
Missing children are a different story though. Up to a certain age, usually around 16 or older, they do not have the legal right to disappear and can be aggressively investigated by LE and returned to their parents or guardians. As the age of the child gets closer to 18 though, a little bug in the system begins to appear. This little bug is used as yet another excuse to not aggresively investigate some missing children cases. We call it the "suspected runaway" bug.
If there are no obvious signs of foul play, and if the child has a history of running away (even if it's only once, and it doesn't matter at what age or how long they were gone), many in LE will use this as an excuse to classify the missing person a "suspected runaway" and not pursue it as aggresively as they would, say, a three-year-old missing child.
This is not to say that children don't runaway and adults don't just disappear for personal reasons, because according to the FBI statistics, this happens in more than 99% (on average) of all the missing person cases, so we can understand the reluctance to spend money to aggressively pursue each case. Like we said, we understand it, but we just don't agree with it, and that's not only because we do worry about that less than 1% that go unwillingly, but also because we think the money and manpower (and womanpower) excuses are an illusion.
Unless you're a small town police force with a total staff of under 25, you have more than enough manpower (and womanpower) to investigate missing person cases, even other cases in the state outside your jurisdiction. We're not saying it would solve all the crime problems, but more people working on a problem is always better than less people, and we can certainly understand LE's need to keep a high visual profile, which does help to control crime to some degree (or so we've heard), but is every patrol officer always needed to actually do patrol work? We don't believe so, and there goes the arguement that there isn't enough manpower (and womanpower) to investigate missing person cases. And most times, budgetary problems go hand in hand with manpower (and womanpower) problems. In other words, LE's money problems are based on their inability (lack of money) to hire more investigators to investigate, which is an illusion like we said, because they already have enough people, they'd rather just use most of them for patrol work.
Why is that? The simple reason we believe is because patrol officers spend most of their productive time (when they're not patrolling) writing traffic tickets. Traffic tickets bring in money. It seems to us that money is obviously more important than people's lives to many within LE. We don't believe it's the patrol officer's fault, but those higher up who look at the bottom line as more important than really serving and protecting the people. Thankfully, not all of LE is like this, enough of them are that it makes the problem harder to solve.
Would it really break any of them to take a dozen patrol officers (or even just one) off patrol each month and having them work some missing person investigations? Even if it's not a missing person case, but some other kind of cases that involve violence? It's hard to believe that many in law enforcement believe writing traffic tickets is more important than working on the problem of solving violence. Sorry, but we just don't get it.
Anyway, besides homicides and willful disappearances, there is one other major reason why persons go missing is human trafficking, which brings us to our photo of Jessie Foster up at the top of this blogpost. She is suspected, by her mother whom we have exchanged e-mails with and others, of being a victim of human trafficking, and if you click on her picture, it will take you to a group called "Mothers Against Trafficking Humans" (MATH), which was founded by Jessie's mother, and where you can go to read more about Jessie's case:
"Heartbreaking and true account of Jessie Foster, a young Canadian woman trafficked in to the United States in 2006 and never seen again. Glendene Grant (Jessie's mother) gives a detailed and emotional account of the days leading up to Jessie's March 29, 2006 disappearance as well as the details of the rigorous and nonstop search for her daughter."
If you think human trafficking only happens in the movies, think again. It actually happens here in the US, and although Jessie Foster is from Canada, our focus will still remain on missing person's in the US. Her story is just one example of a more widespread problem that we here in the US are almost totally unaware of.
When most people think of human trafficking, their frame of reference are sometimes movies like "Taken" or the popular horror flick, "Hostel". We don't have any reason to believe these things don't happen, we just have no real proof they do, mostly just rumours and that's it, but it's worth keeping in mind nonetheless, because there really are some pretty evil people out there that could do things like this, and we can't honestly say that it can never happen, because in all honestly, something similar to this has happened in the distant past and in even more recent times. All you have to do is read any newspaper article about any terrorist group to see just how possible it really is.
But big operations like that are rare, or at least we hope they are anyway, because the alternative is even scarier than any scary movie could do justice to, but nontheless, it's still worth keeping in the back of your mind whenever you think about missing persons, children or adults, just in case, and we'll leave it at that.
One of the myths about human trafficking is that it's all about sex, but if you look at it from a worldwide perspective, you'll learn that more people sign up for it willingly, at first anyway. From a worldwide perspective, most of the trafficking of humans was so they could be used for labor, and only labor. Sexual trafficking is still a huge problem, but the bigger problem is labor trafficking.
And one of the major destinations of this labor is the US.
And it seems, according to some stats, that a higher percentage are trafficked in for sexual reasons. And if you are wondering how this is possible, even within the US, besides having their passport and other documents taken away, please take the time to read and think about the following, and maybe you'll understand how, a little better:
" ...Human traffickers and pimps use all kinds of physical violence against victims, including beating, torturing, starvation, force-feeding with drugs and rape. However, physical violence is not the only tool used to exert pressure on the victims. Criminals use the most extreme forms of violence to gain control over the victims, including threatening to harm their families and relatives, Threatening to kill or disfigure the victim, Preventing victims from communicating with others and etc.
"The U.S. government and human trafficking
"There was no serious attempt by the U.S. government to combat human trafficking or the modern day slavery, despite it is the second biggest crime in the U.S. In all eras, the U.S. government behave as if this crime only happens in other countries. As a matter of fact, Americans are unaware of its occurrence inside their own country and they cannot even imagine a U.S. citizen would be trafficked inside the country's border. Most people in the U.S. still believe this is something that happens to foreign women, men and children-not something that happens to their own. It is a widespread problem in the U.S. and no one is safe from the harm of it. To prove this, we express true story of 'Theresa Flores'.
"Ms. Theresa Flores, with over 20 years experience in the Social Work field, has experienced the bitterness of this painful crime on her own. She received her Master's in Counseling Education from University of Dayton and a Bachelor's of Social Work from Ball State University. Ms. Flores was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General's Commission on the Study of Human Trafficking in 2009. She has also published two books, 'The Sacred Bath' and 'The Slave Across the Street'.
"The incredible point about her story is her family; Her grandfather was a judge and he served as the president of the democratic society. She believe her grandfather could never imagine his precious grandchild would become a sex slave to a group of men for two long years. She says 'Nothing made me exempt from being targeted, nothing protected me from being raped repeatedly and men paying to do so and nothing was available to me later to give me justice and try to put back the pieces of my life.'
"'I grew up in the upper middle class of the mid-west. I was a good, Irish Catholic girl. My dad was a big executive. He got regular promotions and we were transferred every two years. Bigger houses, nicer cars. My sophomore year of high school, we moved from a small country town to an affluent suburb of Detroit.
"'Shortly after I moved there, I developed a crush on a boy. Since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, he spent a lot of time just talking to me. Just being nice. And then one day he offered me a ride home from school. By then I had a crush on him, I was 15, thought this was great. But he ended up driving to HIS house first. Red flags went off in my head. I had been well taught. But I ignored the red flags and because I knew him and thought everything would be ok. He invited me to come inside and again I ignored the red flags I believed everyone was a good person.
"'But that afternoon, all the red flags were right and I was drugged and then raped. I was a virgin, Catholic and from a good family. It was devastating. I didn’t tell my parents because I thought they would be mad at me for disobeying and I would just deal with it on my own. But it got worse.
"'Unknowingly, two of his male relatives that were involved in a large underground criminal ring had taken pictures. They had a Plan. And it was that I would be forced to earn them back by working for them. If I didn’t do what they said, they threatened to show the pictures to my father. It would have been shameful if he thought differently of me. They threatened to show them to my dad’s boss. In those days, he would have lost his job, which was the most important thing to him. They threatened to post the pictures around school and my reputation, with trying to make new friends was very important to me. And they said they would show them to my priest.
"'These men watched my every move. They were everywhere, placed in my school, in a class with me, went to same church, and would come by my part time fast food job. They always knew when my dad was out of town. Driving by slowly, parking on the street near the house, they knew when I was babysitting and were able to track me down everywhere I went. Occasionally cars would follow me home. A man in this group, with a knife on his lap would force me to get in and I would be taken and driven away. Not knowing where I would end up, know how long I would be gone, with no way of escaping until they were finished with me. Time and time again. And I was just a kid.
"'These men threatened to hurt my family if I told. Tortured me psychologically and physically daily for almost two years. And I was only 15. I became a middle class teenage sex slave to them to earn back the photos. I was taken places didn’t know where I was and forced to have sex with hundreds of men while it assisted their business. They made big deals, and lots of money off my pain. I was told 'I own you' and occasionally dead animals would appear in my mailbox as a reminder of what would happen to me if I told anyone.
"'One night, my junior in high school, I was kidnapped by men in this group and taken to an inner city Detroit nasty, dirty motel. It was announced, as I was dragged into the small motel room, with 2 dozen men waiting for my arrival, that 'here was a reward, a payment for job well done'. I had become an incentive for men to continue their hard work and this is what they could receive. I was 'a payment for a job well done', and that night, I was sold to the highest bidder. That night I was drugged, beaten and sexually molested to point of unconsciousness. When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was and had no way home. I had no id, no money, and no shoes. No idea what to do!
"'No one helped me. No one saved me. There was no law against this back then. And no services to help me even if I had been rescued.
"'Every child is vulnerable in some way, no matter if you live in the inner city of Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati or Columbus or if you are raised with the best of everything. While many of the victims are runaways, girls in the foster care system sold by their own family members, there also are a lot of other Theresa’s out there too. I know, I get their emails pleading for help. My grandfather was a prominent judge and had the incredible honor of being selected as a juror at the Nuremburg Trials. My father was an executive with General Electric and it was not unusual to eat Sunday dinners with Monsignors and congressmen.
"'Yet I was vulnerable.
"'The night I was abducted and taken to an inner city motel, I went through more hell in those several hours than most people endure in their entire lives. These traffickers are good at what they do. They are smart, the demand is huge and they have found ways to make a great deal of money off innocent people.
"'It will take me a lifetime to recover from the psychological, physical and mental abuse that I endured for nearly two years as a child. The people that did this to me were never prosecuted. There was no law back then to protect me. And I ask you, are we so naďve to believe that this is a huge problem in other countries, but not here? Are we so naďve to believe that it can’t and doesn’t happen in our own state?'"
Edited by Mr. Tim King
Theresa's story is not really a missing person story, at least not one of the still-missing stories, but it does make us wonder if maybe some (if not many) of the other still-missing persons (or even just those who went missing for a short while) also have similar stories to tell. How many missing persons go through this kind of thing, without ever getting the chance to get out of it, ever, or if they do, are too afraid or too humiliated to talk or tell anyone about it?
If you know the answer to this, and can prove it, or know where we can go to find the answer ourselves, or are a victim yourself, we would be very interested in hearing from you. Please contact us HERE with any information you may have, so that we can update this blogpost appropriately, or if you just need someone to talk to.
ALL CONTACT with us under the subject of "missing persons" and "human trafficking" will be kept under the strictest of confidence, and will not be revealed or published for any reason or in any way or form, including vocal, unless you first give us written permission to do otherwise.
THAT TROUBLESOME (LESS THAN) ONE PERCENT
Since less than 1% of those who are reported missing to the FBI are still-missing, it creates the illusion that missing persons are not that big a problem, but that less than one percent averages out to more than 3 persons going missing (and are still-missing) in every month in every state in every year since 1975.
Those numbers are an average over 40 years (from 1975) of over 84,000 missing persons filed with the FBI that are still-missing. When you add to that, the more than 40,000 (estimated by the FBI) unidentified bodies still needing identities in the US, we have to wonder; how can anyone not be concerned about this?
We think the reason is because of the illusive nature and aura that surrounds them all together. If within 30 days more than 99% of the reported missing persons return home or are found, that means (unless there is obvious signs of foul play, or that missing person is not considered a runaway) most missing person investigations are stalled for at least that long (30 days) while everyone waits and hopes for them to return.
By then, 30 days later when the still-missing don't return, most people have either forgotten or have other other things going on that help them not to remember, except for the families, friends and loved ones, and also hopefully LE.
Unfortunately by then, unless something new comes up, LE has pretty much exhausted all possible leads, and every new day, makes the case that much colder, as memories and recollections fade, it makes even those leads harder to follow, but sometimes they do help, but that's rare, and sometimes the missing person's body is found, but what if it's never identified as that missing person? What happens is it becomes one of the over 40,000 unidentified bodies (estimated by the FBI) waiting for identies all over the US. There are many reasons why a still-missing person case becomes stalled, and that's one them.
Many of the others involves the way missing persons are investigated. If an Amber Alert is deemed necessary, they do that, but then and while they're doing that, they are also trying piece together the missing person's movements in the last hours before they disappeared. Nowadays, security cameras have helped alot in this area, but while they're doing that, they are also talking to family, friends and other acquaitances.
All this produces leads (questions that need answers) that are followed up, which either produce the missing person, or more leads, or to dead ends. As more and more leads are followed up, and unless the missing person has been found; over time, they tend to decrease to the point that there are no more leads to follow up and the case then becomes stalled. Sometimes LE (to their credit) will go on TV and ask the public for their help. Sometimes this produces more leads and sometimes the missing person is found, but over time, leads will diminish to no leads at all to follow up and the case becomes stalled, and this is what has happened in almost every single still-missing person case on record with the FBI.
At this point, and although LE will disagree (saying they're still working on all these cases, which mostly means they're waiting for new leads to follow up on), it's left up to the family and their friends to keep looking.
And that's the way it stands today with most of the over 84,000 still-missing persons, and unless some kind of media outlet, whether over the air, internet, or on paper, chooses to feature one of these still-missing person cases, most of these still-missing person cases will still remain active.
And that's when some friends and family move on, but to some people, those missing persons become their lives. It's all they talk about, and sadly that drives people away from them, who just want them to move on, and go back to being the person they were before their family member or friend disappeared.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy, and even though neither of us has gone through the experience of having someone we know go missing, we can feel the anguish in those families and friends in the news stories and videos and personal accounts, that we have to stop. Those people can't stop. The family and friends of the still-missing are stuck in that unimaginable world of missing persons.
What's scary to us about this world is that since still-missing persons aren't really high on anybodies radar, it makes it easier for persons to go missing unwillingly and unnoticed. This could happen to someone you know and love, or it could even happen to you.
We saw a video on an over-the-air newscast, here in Seatytle, of some woman being grabbed and dragged kicking by some unknown person to their car. It was a security camera video. But, as far as we know to today, this woman has never been seen again.
We know for a fact that Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka did that very thing when they abducted Kristen French before they eventually killed her, so we believe something like that happening is quite possible. Our problem is that even though we know most missing persons return, we think that the kind of thing Bernardo and Homolka did is happening to every single person that goes missing. The odds are against us, but we still can't shake that feeling of horror that the missing person is going through at the hands of someone like Bernardo and Homolka, and that's on top of the anguish of the family and loved ones who are missing this person.
It's not something most people talk or write about when they discuss missing persons, especially to the family and friends of the missing. It's an understandable sentiment, and even though we agree with it, and even though our research into missing persons is what initiated our research into serial killers, serial killers are what now haunt our research into the missing. It's what scares the hell out of us every time we read a missing person story.
SERIAL KILLERS AND THE MISSING
Dave started out researching missing persons while researching the unexplained. Researching the unexplained led to the mysterious disappearances of Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa. Most people don't remember the Judge Crater case, but they do remember Jimmy Hoffa. It even pops up in the news every now and again, most recently a couple years ago (2013):
Ex-Detroit Mob Boss Tony Zerilli, Who Triggered FBI Dig for Hoffa, Is Dead at 87 - MI USA
While doing preliminary research for this case and other unexplained phenomena like ghost, and also while belonging to a Yahoogroup about ghost, he met this other member of the group who's friend had disappeared, and they began exchanging e-mails about the different aspects of the missing person world.
Finally this other member had found a volunteer group (they also had a yahoogroup) that helped to match up unidentified bodies with missing persons, using the internet as one of their tools for accomplishing this.
It's where he also met Todd Matthews, who Dave thinks was also one of the co-founding members of the group, or at least helped make it what it is today. The name of this group is "The Doe Network", and we'll tell you a little more about Todd after we tell you a little more about the group itself:
"Doe Network Mission Statement
This is where Dave started learning the real story behind missing and unidentified persons, which inevitably led to serial killers.
Now we'll tell you little bit about Mr. Matthews, but first a little background.
On May 17, 1968 , near Georgetown, Kentucky...
" ...Wilbur Riddle, who had been scavenging for glass insulators alongside U.S. Route 25, discovered the decomposing body wrapped in a heavy green canvas tarpaulin, such as might be used to wrap up a tent. A police investigation failed to identify the deceased woman, or name any suspects in her apparent murder.
"In 1998, the Tent Girl was positively identified as Barbara Ann Hackmann Taylor as a result of the ongoing efforts of Todd Matthews. Matthews, the son-in-law of Wilbur Riddle, had maintained a longstanding interest in the case. He had collected information on the Tent Girl and combed through many missing persons reports on the Internet.
"Matthews discovered a report from the family of a young woman who went missing in Lexington, Kentucky in late 1967. He forwarded information on the Tent Girl to the Hackmann family. The family believed that this was likely their missing relative, which led to the exhumation of the body and DNA testing, which confirmed her identity... "
It helped prove that the internet wasn't a totally evil wasteland. That it could also be used for good. As a matter of fact, according to Dave, that's what many of the volunteers do is search the internet for clues. One of them, Dave's friend, has even spent time on porn sites, not only searching for her friend, but also trying to match up any of the other unidentified bodies.
The following is more about Mr Matthews, whom Dave has communicated with on numerous time in personal e-mails when he was with the group:
" ...Solving the mystery inspired Matthews to join the nascent Doe Network, a cyber bulletin board of missing-person cases, and help build it into a national database linked with law enforcement sources. The Doe Network, founded in 1999, now includes more than 1,000 unidentified listings and more than 3,000 missing-person cases.
"Matthews also helped start EDAN -- Everyone Deserves a Name -- an organization of volunteer artists who provide pro bono forensic sketches and clay reconstructions of faces to aid with identifications... "
Mr. Matthews, according to Dave, is a respected non-LE member of the missing person community. He is respected by both professionals and non-professionals alike. He has an easy way about him, that inspires confidence and you find yourself telling him things you wouldn't tell even close friends. An all around nice guy that is not only very knowledgeable about missing persons and the problems associated with it, but also deserving of every bit of recognition he gets.
According to Dave. I personally don't know the guy, at least not as well as Dave does anyway, but he does sound like a nice guy.
From Dave's friend, he was always receiving private e-mails about her search for her friend which eventually lead to a multiple murderer.
Dave's not a hundred percent sure how that all turned out, because when he left the group for personal reasons, he lost contact with her, and because of many hard-drive meltdowns; he doesn't have her e-addy or any other contact information in order to find out.
But that's not important. What is important is that this and other post by other members of "The Doe Network" yahoogroup were making links between serial killers and missing and unidentified persons, and that got Dave started looking at, and then researching serial killers, and almost all the text about serial had numerous stories about missing persons in them. Missing persons are sometimes the second thing to come to investigators when they begin to suspect a serial killer is at work. The first thing are the bodies that start to pile up. Even then, they tend to shy away from announcing a serial killer is claiming victims, and they need proof-positive evidence linking the cases, before they will announce something like that.
Serial killers are scary, because they could be anyone, or just someone walking by you in a huge mall parking-lot. No one around and you're gone. Never to be seen again, but before you die, you will come face-to-face with all kinds of unimaginable horrors. Serial killers feed off that horror like a vampire feeds off the blood of their victims. They love it, and are always on the hunt for their next victim.
There is no conclusion for at least 84,000 family and friends of those still missing in the US. Please, if you're one of those still missing who went willingly, please take a moment to contact someone so that you can let them know you are OK. Even if you have to travel to another city, state or country to keep your location a secret.