Do people simply vanish? Where are all of the missing persons?
How many times have you seen a face on a milk carton or heard a plea from an emotionally torn family member on the T.V. regarding missing persons? At some point most of us have heard of tragic events and while they are sad, we are more than likely not affected by them. The circumstances for how these missing persons is, at times, stranger than fiction. What happens to these people who just seem to disappear and are never heard from again?
As of 1/1/2013, there are over 87,000 active unresolved cases of missing persons according to the FBI. Since 1975, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File records are “retained indefinitely, until the individual is located”. These files will never be closed unless the person is found, essentially dead or alive.
There are thousands of websites dedicated to helping families, police officers, and investigators find missing persons through multiple search engines. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), for example, is such a database where people can add information about a case. There is a section which provides a state case breakdown which gives total cases even average age for that state. After checking a few states, I was startled to find that the average age range of missing persons is in the late twenties to early thirties. California, for example, has an average age of 28 years and over 1,100 open cases where people just up and disappeared.
Like any curious person, I wanted to know about missing persons in my home state, so I used the The Doe Network. This provides a breakdown of each state with the case number, missing date, as well as a detailed report provided by local law enforcement. While researching the specifics of some of the missing persons cases for Indiana, I found many reports that were too puzzling to ignore.
On July 22, 2001, Marliyn Renee McCown of Richmond, IN, went missing and has not been seen or heard of since. Here is her circumstances of disappearance report provided by the Richmond Police Department.
“Marilyn, who goes by Niqui, was last seen at a laundromat in the vicinity of the 1000 block of South E St. Her vehicle was located on November 3, 2001 in an apartment complex in Dayton, OH with the stereo and battery missing, the door lock being knocked in, the ignition switch tampered with, and her laundry still folded inside.”
She went missing in July and her vehicle was found in a different state with her laundry still folded inside in November. Her case is classified as Endangered Missing and remains unsolved to this day. Marilyn is not the only person with a unique missing persons case, Brookley Chantille Louks has a similar circumstance of disappearance. Brookley went missing on June 24, 2002, in Greenwood, IN.
According to the Greenwood Police Department, “Brookley was last seen at her residence in the vicinity of the 1400 block of Cottonwood Dr.in Greenwood , IN. She came home from work at approximately 4:00pm to find that her computer was missing. She called her father adn the police department to make a burglary report. At approximately 5:30pm, the report was filed and law enforcement left her residence. Brookley was possibly seen getting into the passenger side of her vehicle later that afternoon. Her vehicle was located abandoned on July 1, 2002 approximately 10 miles from her home.”
Yet another unsolved missing persons case is Karen Jo Smith from Indianapolis, IN. Karen is also classified as Endangered Missing and was last seen on December 27, 2000. The report provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police is much stranger than the first two cases.
“Karen was last seen at approx. 10:30pm at her residence near the 800 block of Weghorst St. on December 27, 2000. Her son told police that Karen’s ex husband, Steven Halcomb, was sitting in the living room with Karen the night she was last seen. She appeared to be in a drug-induced sleepiness. Her two children said they didn’t hear any suspicious activity that night. They reported her missing the next morning when she couldn’t be found and she missed an appointment later that day. Karen had felt threatened by Halcomb. He vanished the same day she was reported missing and he didn’t report for work the next day. His vehicle, a 1983 light blue Ford LTD Indiana plates 95W7801, was also missing. He turned himself in on January 11, 2001 after violating parole in California. His vehicle was searched for evidence, nothing was found, and he denied involvement. Halcomb was convicted and sentenced for Karen’s death in December 2004. He maintains his innocence and Karen’s body has never been found.”
Imagine the last memory of your mother was seeing her in a drug-induced state and then she just disappears. Her ex husband did turn himself in but there was no evidence found and he denied any involvement with the incident. Despite a conviction of murder, Karen’s body was never found so her case remains unsolved.
After reading several of these circumstances of disappearance reoprts, it seemed like I was reading stories from the show Unsolved Mysteries. What happened to these people? Could they have possibly been abducted? How can anyone just go missing without a trace of evidence?
In May of this year, a New Jersey missing persons case was finally solved, that had been open since 1972. In an attempt to identify eight victims of John Wayne Gacy, an unrelated missing persons case was solved. Steven Soden went missing when he was 16 years old and has never been seen since. Remains found in 2000 provided a DNA match with Soden, solving his missing persons case. The family had feared that he was one of the victims of Gacy but thankfully the evidence proved otherwise. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart stated, “With Gacy, your fear is that your loved one’s last minutes was with this monster and to find out they weren’t is a relief.”
Most of us can recall the abduction case involving Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio. Thankfully, three missing persons (Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry) were all found in Castro’s home on May 6. The victims had been held captive by Castro, spanning from nine to eleven years, who pleaded guilty to 937 charges including aggravated murder. – (Reuters)
These women suffered extreme amounts of abuse both physically and sexually, but in the end they were saved by a stranger. While they did experience vast amounts of what could only be called torture, they are alive today.
There are thousands of cases that remain unsolved and we may never find out what actually happened to these individuals. If you have a friend or loved one who hasn’t been heard from for a while, don’t hesitate to take the initiative. Some of these victims were considered missing after a few hours, so never think it is too soon to act. There is no minimum amount of time to wait until you can file a missing persons report, that is just a myth. Here is a step by step checklist you can use for a missing persons report. – (NAMPN.org)