If Your Child Is Missing...
When three young women, missing for a decade or more, were found recently in Cleveland, Ohio, Bob and Gay Smither rejoiced along with the relieved parents and all families who have had missing children. As founders of the Texas-based Laura Recovery Center Foundation for Missing Children, the Smithers had previously contacted the parents of Gina DeJesus (one of the three women recently found in Cleveland, Ohio), and they knew that this miraculous recovery would give hope to parents of missing children everywhere, especially if their children may have been missing for “ten, twenty, or even 30 years.”
When parents are initially faced with such a personal catastrophe, the advice the Smithers give is on the front page of their website:
Every year, police receive about 800,000 reports of missing children. Approximately 400,000 of these are runaways, and such a large number overwhelms law enforcement. Other children are missing for benign reasons or are taken by family members. The children in the most immediate danger are those taken by strangers — over 30 each day in the
. For these cases of true, non-family
abductions, immediate community action is urgent. According to Bob Smither,
“Community action must create a Triangle of Trust among law enforcement, the
community, and the missing child’s family. Law enforcement must be sensitized
to the urgency of action in cases of the relatively rare non-family abduction.
And the community concerned about this family must immediately be organized
into a large-scale ground search that includes billboards, candlelight vigils,
and other forms of community action.” United States
The Smithers learned these necessary procedures for community action through the excruciatingly painful experience of losing a child to a society that is now widely afflicted with moral and spiritual sickness. “Laura Smither, a 12 year-old girl, was abducted on
April 3, 1997, while jogging close to her home in . Over 6,000 people took part in a
massive nationwide search. Her body was found on Friendswood, Texas April 20, 1997. On April 23, she would have been 13
Since 1997, the
has helped more than 1,500 families
across the nation in the search for their missing children. In more than 100
large-scale ground searches for abducted children, the results are that in
about one-third of these searches, the child is found, in about one-third, the
child’s body is recovered, and in about one-third, the cases are still open. Laura Recovery Center
This reporter asked Bob Smither, “How often does the perpetrator of the abduction participate in the community search?” While Smither acknowledged that this is precisely what had happened in one of the Cleveland, Ohio, searches almost 10 years ago, there are no reliable statistics on this possibility, and therefore it is mandatory that the search organizers obtain “a picture ID of everybody who comes through the door,” and that these IDs must then be passed on to law enforcement.