There is a myth surrounding the reason people go missing. The public thinks that a person goes missing while doing something shady or nefarious; that disappearing is the result of a bad choice. While people do go missing after making a bad choice; getting a car with a stranger, hitch-hiking or drinking too much and then trusting someone he/she just met, the vast majority of people go missing while doing everyday things. They go missing on their daily jog, a stroll through the neighborhood, on a shopping trip. While some people do go missing while out-of-town or vacationing, most people go missing in an area they know and are familiar with. And many people go missing on their way to work, at work on or on their way home. This is the case of Robert Mayer.
Robert Mayer is just a regular guy. He lives in Dix Hills, New York. He’s an electrician with a wife, Ida, and two kids he adores. He really doesn’t like to go out too much; he’d just rather stay home with his family. In their sixteen year marriage, Robert and his wife have never spent a night apart.
On June 14, 2013, Robert—Rob—left early, like he did every morning, for his job in Fort Green, Brooklyn where he was working as an electrician on a new theater complex. He was out the door by 4:30. He climbed into his bright red Pontiac GTO. The car was his baby. This morning was absolutely no different than any other work day. At around nine, he called his wife. They talked about the upcoming Fathers Day. They were planning a family bar-b-que. Ida promised to get some lobster. They also talked about the vacation they were planning in July, to Italy. They were excited. Then nothing. Rob did not come home that evening. He hasn’t been home at all.
It has been confirmed that Robert did show up for work at the job site at 262 Ashland Place. He put in a day’s work. The last known where-a-bouts of Rob Mayer was at 2:15 p.m. the Arrow Scrap yard in West Babylon where he would go to sell scrap from his job. About a half hour after that visit Rob’s cell phone was turned off.
The next day, Rob’s car was found in the parking lot of the Long Island Railroad at the Deer Park Station. They keys were not in it. The seat was pushed up, as if someone shorter than Rob’s six foot frame had driven it there. The car’s trunk, where he kept his tools and lunch box was empty. Ida says that Rob never would have left his car there. He was too concerned about thefts.
So, where is Rob Mayer? I don’t think he got on that train for some unknown destination. I don’t think he walked away from his wife, his job and his children. I think someone knows what happened.
Robert Mayer is a 46 year old, white, man. He is 6 feet tall and weights 200 pounds. He left middle finger is slightly chopped off. He has a mole under his right eyes. He was last seen wearing a grey polo shirt with a J.C Electrical logo, light blue jeans, black work books and sunglasses. It is important to note that Robert left his wallet home that day so he does not have his identification with him.
I want you to take a good look at his picture and the picture of his car. Did you see Robert on June 14th or after? ? Did you see his car? Did he buy coffee from you? Did you notice him at a stop light? Did you see him get into or out of his car? Did you see him go into any place of business? Any residence? If you know Robert, did you have any sort of conversation with him that seemed odd or out of place? Did he appear ill? Even if you think you saw this man on June 14th (or after) I want you to call the police. If your tip is nothing the police would sincerely rather have a nothing tip than you keep quiet and a small, but significant lead, get lost.
If you have any information about Robert Mayer call the Suffolk County Police at 631-854-8252. If you are involved in Rob’s disappearance and are afraid to come forward, please contact a lawyer. Communications between a lawyer and client are confidential. You will be able to pass along vital information while remaining anonymous. You may also send an anonymous letter to Suffolk County Police, 30 Yaphank Ave. Yaphank, NY 11980.
We all woke up to a miracle this morning; Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight had been rescued from a decade of captivity. Pictures of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were emblazoned on every paper and TV channel. Missing posters of Amanda and Gina were hastily scrawled with the word FOUND across it. It was joy. Cleveland broke out into spontaneous celebrations. Did you notice there were no pictures of Michele Knight? There is a frightening reason for that; no one was looking for Michele Knight.
This is yet another case of a person reported missing and police agencies doing little to locate her. Michele was last seen on August 22, 2002. She was 20 years old at the time of her disappearance. Police concluded, wrongly, that she left on her own and just didn’t return. Twenty year olds do that all the time, right?
I know what you may be thinking; people do just pick up and leave. Recently the news reported on the Pennsylvania mom, Brenda Heist, who decided on the spur of the moment to join some drifters and leave her family and life behind. She had been missing, for 11 years before she was recently located in Florida.
But I’m going to keep saying this until someone hears it: every single missing person deserves an active and aggressive investigation. The ONLY way to find missing people is to use every available resource to look for them. The only time an investigation into a missing person should be closed is if the missing person is found. If a missing person is found alive, living on the beach in Florida, so much the better! I know investigations are costly but we’re talking about a national epidemic. More people go missing each year than die of AIDS and all types cancer combined. Unlike, Brenda Heist most of these people are not living on the beach in Florida. Most of the missing are victims of crimes. The United States needs to commit to training groups of highly skilled investigators in the search of the missing.
We owed Michele Knight a full scale investigation into her disappearance. Law enforcement dropped the ball. I don’t know what would have happened if there had been a full scale investigation. Maybe this story would not have ended any differently. But what if law enforcement had been able to locate the Michele Knight sooner? What if, in the course of an active, aggressive investigation, they had come across a clue or received a tip that would have lead them sooner to Ariel Castro’s home shortening the hell that had become Michele’s life?
We owed Michele Knight a full scale investigation. Now we owe her an apology.
I have a theory that cannot be proven. I believe that for every single missing person there is at least one person who knows where he/she is. The reason I believe that is most missing people are victims of an undiscovered crime; therefore you have an offender and the victim. The victim is missing. The offender is out walking around.
I also have another theory. I believe that it is difficult for the average person to keep a secret. I believe that most people share their secrets but even the ones who don’t openly share secrets give us hints into pasts they’d rather not let anyone know about.
So, this comes to the third leg of my theory; someone knows something about what happened to each of the millions of missing. For each missing person someone is holding the precious key to the locked mystery of what happened.
If the country wasn’t suffering from a crisis of morality at the same time we are suffering a missing persons epidemic we’d be able to give answers to so many waiting family members. But unfortunately, morals seem to be at an all time low.
My work as an advocate for the missing has allowed me the privilege of working with many family members who have shared their heart breaking stories with me. I can tell you without the smallest doubt that having a loved one is more devastating than any disease out there. It is a daily suffering that destroys lives, relationships, health, jobs, and finances. When a family has a missing loved one there is no aspect of their life that is not impacted. In many cases, the suffering is never alleviated and people go to their graves after a life-time of indescribable suffering.
Laurie Travis’s sister, Rose Marie Gayhart has been missing for 28 years. Recently, Laurie Travis recently posted on her Facebook page:
I am ready to explode my words, I will never understand why Rose Marie Gayhart DOES NOT get the publicity 28 yrs missing and my fight I have been through for these 28yrs….all I ask is help me get the words,posters etc. out….been too long SOMEBODY KNOWS SOMETHING!…all I am asking is for help..I can not afford tee-shirts,wrist bands,pins, etc….I just want help for closure and Justice.. ♥
Closure and justice, that is all she wants. If my sibling was missing, I’d want him to walk through the door one day, happy, healthy, with one hell of story to tell me. But Laurie isn’t even asking for a happy ending. She wants closure. She also wants justice. She just wants what is promised us as Americans; justice for all.
I’m going to tell you something about the immoral, like the person who knows what happened to Rose Marie Gayhart. That person won’t wake up one day and find their morals lying in the bottom of a dresser drawer and decide to finally use them. What happens is people, people like you and me, not just law enforcement, ask questions and ask questions and ask questions. We make them feel uncomfortable until they make a mistake, slip up and get caught. Perpetrators must be made aware every waking moment of their lives that someone is looking for the truth.
Rose Marie Gayhart was raised in Dansville, New York. Her early life was never easy. She made a series of very bad choices. Some of those choices lead to dire consequences. She plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the death of her 6 month old son, Danny Shaver. Danny’s father was in prison at the time for burglary. Rose’s sister claims it was actually Rose Marie’s boyfriend, Kevin Burns, who was responsible for Danny’s death. But he was never charged. Rose also had another child she gave up for adoption. It’s easy to see what path Rose Marie’s life was taking.
But Rose Marie was given another chance and she took it. She moved to Florida with a new boyfriend, Bobby Paddock and his mother, Dorothy Rittenhouse. Bobby had a job carpet cleaning and Rose bragged in a letter to her sister of his salary. She, herself had gotten a job at a hot dog stand, not much, but it was a start. She wrote to her sister of the hopes of buying a home in Cape Coral, Florida. In her last letter home to her sister she sounded happy, albeit lonely. She asks her sister to consider moving to Florida and even if she wouldn’t consider moving she encouraged her to visit. She also tells her sister that Bobby’s mother is “losing her mind”. At this time, they are living in a camper, quarters are tight and there is some suggestion that there are tensions between Rose Marie and Dorothy. Then Rose Marie is gone.
About two weeks after Rose Marie’s upbeat letter to her sister, Rose Marie’s mother received a letter from Dorothy Rittenhouse. The letter is to inform Rose Marie’s mother (also Dorothy) that Rose Marie has disappeared. Dorothy Rittenhouse paints a terrible picture of Rose Marie, one where she sat around, drinking in bars with men, stealing money from Bobby and having a temper tantrum where she destroyed Bobby’s National Guard uniform and personal papers. Rose Marie mentioned at work that she was not getting along with her boyfriend. A neighbor claimed she witnessed a big fight between Rose Marie and Rittenhouse where Rose claimed she was pregnant and wanted to have the baby. Bobby wanted her to have an abortion. The argument ended with Rittenhouse throwing Gayhart out of the trailer. The neighbor claimed she saw Rose Marie walking down the road with a suitcase.
I’d be willing to believe that Rose Marie walked down that Florida road to her unknown fate but three things keep bothering me. Dorothy, in her letter to Rose Marie’s mother says that she bought Rose Marie a bus ticket to New York and Rose Marie refused the ticket. Dorothy then goes to the Sheriff’s Office to give them the “proof” of the offering the ticket to Rose Marie. She writes to Rose Marie’s mother, “Sorry but I can’t do anymore if I find her I’ll be sure give the ticket and if I can’t find her I’m covered—because I have proof—“ What does Dorothy need proof of? Why does she need to be “covered’? Why did she feel the need to show the Sheriff’s department an unused bus ticket?
The second thing that bothers me is that I have no doubt that Rose Marie would have returned to New York if things went bad with Bobby. In her letter to her sister she writes about wanting to visit New York while Bobby is off on his three week National Guard training. She writes, “I would like to come home then, if I’m not working, but Bobby refuses to let me. I think he’s afraid that I won’t come back <smiley face>. I’ve got him spoiled.” Rose Marie was not averse to returning to New York. She had loved ones there.
The third thing that bothers me is that according to Rose Marie’s sister, Bobby Paddock failed a lie detector test. While failing the test is not proof that Bobby knows Rose Marie’s where-a-bouts it does indicate that he has not been honest with investigators.
I know why this case has been shuffled and reshuffled and generally forgotten. At one point the Florida police actually handed off the investigation to the Livingston County, New York investigators. The police think that searching for Rose Marie Gayhart isn’t worth it. They believe she is the kind of girl that got what she deserved. But this case is as much about Laurie Travis, Rose Marie’s sister, as it is about Rose Marie Gayhart. Like the police, you may draw some judgment about Rose Marie. As a mother I had trouble writing about Rose Marie. How can I write about a woman who plead guilty to the death of her son? But justice is for all, not just good people. Though I would disagree, many believe that Rose Marie has gotten her justice. But I can assure you Laurie Travis has not. I know that Laurie Travis is suffering. I know her suffering is undeserved and I know it is time for her to have closure and justice.
So, it’s time for the police to open the investigation again. It’s time to start asking questions. It is time to start making people feel uncomfortable. It’s time to start asking people, “Hey, what ever happened to Rose Marie?” Someone knows what happened to Rose Marie Gayhart and Laurie Travis is waiting for that answer.
ROSE MARIE GAYHART
Missing From: Cape Coral, Florida
Missing Since: 03/1985
Classification: Missing Endangered
Age at Disappearance: 23
Date of Birth: 02/08/62
Hair: Dark Brown curly hair
Distinctive Characteristics: Wears brown frame glasses ( May have been replaced),
Scars Marks, Tattoos: pierced ears, scar under chin, scar over eye. Chipped front tooth. Stretch marks from prior childbirth
Clothing: wears size 7 clothing and size 5 shoes
If you are interested in helping with the search for Rose Marie Gayhart or any missing person feel free to contact the CUE Center <ncmissingpersons.org> or the Center for Hope <hope4themissing.org>
Senator Nozzolio and Representative Oaks,
I am writing to you on behalf of Judith A. Geurin. She is a missing person who has been missing from your representative district since 1991.
Missing people are some of the most vulnerable of our citizens. When a person goes missing they lose their voice and all their rights as a human being. Everything is ripped from their lives as well as their family’s lives. If they have a loving, caring, intelligent and financially well-off family, then they will have people who will speak for them and make sure law enforcement does the right thing. If they don’t, well, they are subject to the luck of the draw and are often are forgotten. Does that sound right to you? It doesn’t to me.
Let me tell you Judith Geurin’s story. Judith was a housewife and mother then, without warning, her life went terribly wrong. Her husband died in 1988. She had trouble dealing with the overwhelming grief. She turned to alcohol for solace. That is when she met Curtis Pucci, an abusive and manipulating man who took advantage of Judith’s fragile state. (He also “took care” of the life insurance she received from her husband’s death.) He convinced her to move to Sodus Point, New York, leaving behind her four children. It was a mess. It was a huge mess. Times got hard for Pucci and Guerin. They ran out of money. Judith was arrested for passing a bad check. But Judith’s daughter, Amy, never gave up on her mom. Actually, during their last conversation, Amy suggested that her mother come home and they all start over again. But Judith never got the chance. She simply disappeared.
In late January 1991, Amy realized something was amiss. As bad as things got, she always heard from her mom. She was unable to reach her and finally took a drive to Sodus Point. Her mother was gone and no one knew where she was. Amy went to the police. They refused to take a missing person’s report. They told Amy her mom probably just “took off” and she’d hear from her soon. Soon never came.
Amy tried to report her mother missing again. And again. And again. Incredibly, the police refused to take a report and investigate until 2006. Yes, you read that right; 2006. Fifteen years after Judith Geurin went missing the police begrudgingly opened an investigation. The injustice done in this case is just staggering.
I’d like to tell you this is a very isolated case but it’s not. Every day people go missing and every day they hear that their loved one is just somewhere blowing off steam or has lost track of time. It is time that New York became a leader in the search, investigation and recovery of the missing.
New York State needs:
1) a standard protocol for every single missing person investigation. It shouldn’t matter where you disappear from or who you are, a thorough investigation should be standard.
2) a state funded missing persons investigative unit that is highly trained and on call to begin investigations immediately when it is determined a person is missing
3) training for every single police agency in the state on how to handle missing person cases.
4) a centralized, searchable data base where every single missing person is entered into a system where that information can be cross referenced against unidentified human remains.
5) a law requiring every single missing person and unidentified human remains be reported to the FBI and entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).
We can’t prevent the great travesty of justice that has happened to Judith Geurin and her family. However, we can prevent it from happening again. As her representative, it is your job to look into the injustice that Judith Geurin and her family have suffered for twenty-two years. But it is also time to look into how missing persons investigations are handled in New York State.
Thank you so much for your time. I am sure you will do the right thing.
Any response received from the Senator or Representative will be added here.
I woke up at three o’clock this morning unable to sleep. Like most people, after tossing and turning I decided to surf the internet hoping something would put me back to sleep. As usual, I found myself looking at the case files of missing people. I find myself fixated on “Caledonia Jane”. Now added to the fixation mix is “Grateful Doe.” Both of these children have gone unidentified for a long time.
I previously wrote a blog post about “Caledonia Jane,” She was the young, teenage girl whose body was found off Route 20 in Caledonia, New York on November 9, 1979. She has never been identified. “Grateful Doe” is a young man, estimated to be somewhere between the ages of 16 and 21. His body was found in a car crash on June 26, 1995 in Emporia, Virginia. He has also never been identified. His story is perplexing.
Grateful “Jason” Doe
On the night between June 25 and June 26, 1995, Michael Eric Hager, 21, was driving from Fairfax, Virginia to his mother’s house in Inman, South Carolina. He had spent the previous days with his fiancé who lived in Fairfax. Before arriving in Fairfax, he had his fiancé had spent a few days in New York. After leaving Fairfax, Hager made a brief stop at his father’s house in Glouster, Virginia. His father was not at home and he called his father to let him know he was on his way to his mother’s house in Iman. He did not mention having anyone with him at the time. However, somewhere in his travels, Hager picked up a passenger. When and where Hager picked up him up is not known, though a neighbor claimed that he saw Hager with someone when he stopped at his father’s house.
In the early morning hours of June 26, 1995, Hager’s van veered off the road and hit a tree. Neither young man was wearing a seatbelt. They were both ejected from the vehicle and died. Hager was quickly identified. The passenger has never been identified.
Neither of Hager’s parents recognized the young man. Depending on the reports you read, the unidentified victim is anywhere from 16 to 25 years old. He was about 5’8” tall and about 170 pounds. He had light hair—probably dark blonde or light brown—dyed red. He is often reported as having “natural red hair” and in his morgue picture he has red hair. However, his real hair is not red. His left ear was pierced, though he had no earring in it at the time and he had a small, homemade, five point star tattoo on his left arm.
Small star tattoo on Grateful Doe’s left arm
He was wearing a red, tie-dyed t-shirt from the Grateful Dead 1995 Summer Concert Tour. Dressed like most Deadheads, he had on light blue 505 Levi jeans, blue Fila Athletic shoes and two necklaces: one macramé and one beaded.
In his pocket were two ticket stubs to the June 24 and 25, 1995 Grateful Dead concert at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The police traced the origin of those tickets and it shows that our unidentified concert goer bought them from a scalper at the concert. The scalper did not remember Grateful Doe. Also in his pocket were four quarters and a yellow disposable lighter. The only possible identifier found on the boy’s body was a note that read, “Jason, Sorry we had to go, see ya around, call me at #914-XXXX . Caroline T. + Caroline O.” From the number is an arrow to Caroline T’s name. A caricature of Jerry Garcia is on the bottom of the note. As far as I know, Caroline T. and Caroline O. have never been identified. Also, the police have released no information on the phone number, except for the 914 exchange.
The note found in Grateful “Jason” Doe’s pocket.
So, we know that Grateful Doe (probably the Jason of the note) went to the 2-day Grateful Dead concert. He dyed his hair red. He most likely bought two necklaces and a t-shirt at the concert. He was broke. He was not planning on attending the next Dead concert because he was headed in the wrong direction. Somewhere between the concert and the crash site, Michael Hager picked him up. Whether he knew Hager or was a hitchhiker is unknown, though it seems likely that he was a hitchhiker because no one has been able to identify him. Then in the early hour mornings of June 26, 1995, Michael Eric Hager drifted off to sleep while driving.
Grateful “Jason” with his red hair and Grateful Dead t-shirt.
Here is what I can’t wrap my puny little brain around; why has no one missed Grateful Doe? Hasn’t anyone asked, “Hey, have you seen Jason?” “Where’s Jason been?” “Why hasn’t Jason been around to pick up his stuff?”
Neither Grateful Doe nor Caledonia Jane had a backpack, a wallet or any personal items. They must have left them somewhere. Even if they were both true drifters, they were young. Someone had to know who they were and missed them. Did someone you go to school with disappear? Have you ever wondered what happened to so-and-so?
I’m going to ask you to look at their pictures. Do they look like someone you used to know? Could you please tell one other person about them? And maybe there is someone in your life, maybe a long time ago, that just seemed to “disappear.” Maybe you could ask where he or she is. Maybe he just moved out of state. Maybe she bounced around from foster home to foster home. Maybe he is a drifter. Maybe she hated her childhood and doesn’t want to hear from anyone who remotely reminds her of those times. Maybe she is a meth addict living under a bridge. But maybe, and I know it’s a long shot, there is someone waiting for a loved one to return home and hoping you will ask, “Hey, whatever happened to Jason?”
If you have a missing loved one in your life and would like me to write about him or her, please feel free to email me.
Big Foot Didn’t Do It
I am not a debunker. I have spent many years investigating paranormal phenomenon. I’ve known and worked with many dedicated, hard-working and honest investigators. I have witnessed things that are hard to explain using conventional methods of investigating. I know several gifted psychics and have studied and practiced in the field of astrology for over 25 years. If there is absolutely one thing I have learned by being involved in paranormal investigation and studies is that true investigators and practitioners in the field, never, ever, ever attempt to take advantage of anyone, lie to make their claims seem more amazing or encourage someone to deviate from standard wisdom to go off on a wild goose chase.
I recently read a book where the author claims that many of our unsolved missing person cases, particularly those that take place in National Parks, have to do with…well…Big Foot. The conclusion we are supposed to draw from the book is that Big Foot is out there, snatching up people, and doing—what I’m not sure—because some of the missing people were eventually found alive. So, Big Foot can’t be snacking on all of them. So, what is Big Foot doing snatching up people from heavily wooded areas?
I did find the book interesting. The cases the author chose to highlight are very fascinating. I find myself reading case after case because they are so mysterious. But I am not convinced, by a long shot, that Big Foot is doing it. Let me add, I have attended conferences where seasoned researchers discussed the phenomenon of Big Foot. The information is fascinating. They are hard working, honest men, some who have been dedicating most of their spare time for decades. They present interesting evidence. So, I’m not going to out and out say that there is no such thing as Big Foot, Sasquatch, Yeti or the like. But if you are going to present research that Big Foot is out snacking on our missing, your research better be flawless.
The first and foremost mistake in the book is that most of the “research” is done through newspaper accounts. Newspaper accounts, while a good place to start, are far from accurate. Once something is printed in the paper, it will appear in print over and over again and eventually just be thought of as “truth.” FOIL searches (Freedom of Information Legislation) are good, too. But a researcher has to interview every one and anyone who will cough up information. Every single person I interviewed for my book Gone Missing in New York gave me information that wasn’t printed anywhere. They also corrected any misinformation given out by the press. There wasn’t ONE case where the press was 100% accurate. Here is how writing research goes; you get a “fact”, then you confirm it. I chose not to write about some really fascinating information because I could not confirm it. If I wasn’t sure, I either chose not to print the information or made the reader know I couldn’t be 100% sure of the veracity of the information.
The author claims that many of the missing, particularly children, were found in a place previously searched. Seasoned searchers will tell you that you can walk within a foot of a missing person hidden in heavy brush or dense wood and not see the missing person. I will never forget the story a search dog handler told me. She came to search an area for a missing jogger. The foot searchers swore they had searched an area but the handler asked if the dog could take a quick run through. Lo and behold, the missing jogger was found unconscious deep under a bush, covered by dead and dry leaves. She had been hit by a car and rolled down a steep embankment where she was hidden even to searchers walking within feet of her.
The author also claims that many of the found people are disoriented. I think this one should be fairly obvious. Even if you had food and water, which most in the book do not, you’d be a little disoriented after being lost for any length of time. Dehydration can make a person disoriented within 48 hours. Panic can do all sorts of psychological damage to a missing person including causing sensory hallucinations. Hypothermia can actually cause freezing people to disrobe. Years ago, I heard a study done one lost scientists in the arctic. The single feature that distinguished those that survived from those that didn’t was panic. When a person is terrified to the point of panic, he will make some really poor decisions. Some of those decisions can drive a person deeper into dense woods, leave back packs and necessary items behind, become more and more disoriented. You’ve heard the term “scared to death” and while I don’t believe that people die of fear, I do believe that fear can lead people to make fateful decision which lead directly to their death.
Based on some of the stories, I do think maybe a few of the children were dragged off by a bear, a wolf, a large dog or maybe even a really bad person. If it was superhuman Big Foot, I think there would be evidence; foot prints, fur or smell. It seems dogs can’t manage to track a mangy human-like creature through the woods. If Big Foot were taking these people as a food sources, the found corpses would have bite marks on the bone and the flesh would look like it had been eaten. If Big Foot is not abducting people as a food source (because some of the victims are found alive) what is he doing with them? Do the Big Foots need a fourth hand in poker?
I have intimate knowledge of one of the cases highlighted in the book. I found three glaring errors. That is three errors in just ONE of the many stories in the book. Many of the stories are very old, long before modern search and rescue methods were available making anything about the case absolutely “hearsay.”
Books on paranormal phenomenon can be a fun read. They can also stimulate thought. Remember Chariot of the God? We all read that book in the late 60s. However, missing people are not something fun and interesting to make bizarre hypotheses about without hard proof. Not one of the people recovered said, “It was Big Foot.” Neither does the author present hard evidence such as foot prints, hair, blood, etc. The only evidence presented is that some missing persons cases seem to fit a “pattern.” Missing people’s family are suffering. It is some of the worst suffering I have ever witnessed. I can’t imagine that a book that concludes that Big Foot did it eases their suffering one iota. Sorry, Sasquatch, you’ll have to do better.
A few nights ago I had a terrifying nightmare. In my dream, my two daughters were young again. In the dream they were abducted. I was frantic to find them. I woke up in tears. The dream was so disturbing I could not fall back to sleep for three hours. The terror I felt in the dream was real and totally draining. Even after I woke up and knew my daughters were grown and in their own homes, safe and sound, the feeling stayed with me a long time. I cannot imagine what it feels like to live with this feeling every single moment of someone’s life. I am lucky; I can wake up from a nightmare. The families of the missing can’t.
On February 13, 2001, Patricia Viola disappeared from her Bogota, New Jersey home. Literally, she was gone without a trace. She had volunteered at her son’s school that morning, came home, returned a call from her mother and then vanished. Her husband, Jim, arrived home at 4:30 in the afternoon to find the house alarm set, his wife’s purse, cell phone and necessary medications on the counter but no sign of his wife. That story is bad enough. Jim has spent eleven years tirelessly looking for his wife. He put up fliers, hired a private investigator, maintained a website and was featured on TV shows. He spent every single moment of those eleven years living a nightmare, a nightmare that those of us who don’t know what it is like to have a missing spouse can’t even begin to imagine. He raised his two young children by himself. He also found time to become an advocate for all the missing. He was responsible for New Jersey’s “Patricia’s Law” which requires the collection of DNA from any missing person reported missing longer than 30 days.
But what Jim didn’t know, as he was hoping, praying, living that nightmare, that seventeen months after his wife went missing, a dog walker discovered his wife’s shoe, with a bit of bone fragment, on a Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York. It took THREE YEARS for the medical examiner’s office in New York City to extract a DNA sample. The remains were then buried in Potter’s Field on Hart Island in Long Island Sound.
Ok, I get it, after 9/11/01, the office was flooded with bone fragments that needed DNA samples taken. But it took FOUR MORE YEARS for that sample to be sent for testing.
Can you imagine, while you are out searching, your loved one’s remains are sitting in the medical examiner’s storage locker and later buried anonymously in Potter’s Field? I don’t want to blame anyone. I do believe that each individual does the best he/she can. But it’s not good enough. The system of identifying remains is not good enough. Families cannot wait three, four five years, a decade to get answers or in a worst case scenario, never, to get answers. What good is technology if we aren’t using it?
I also get that DNA and other types of testing is expensive. However, the first step we have to take is to accept that the number of missing in this country is epidemic. By recognizing the sheer number of missing and declaring it an epidemic, federal agencies could be formed and federal funds used to end this epidemic. This epidemic is not a state problem. In every corner of our country people are missing, remains are languishing in medical examiners offices or buried in unmarked graves. Every missing person deserves a thorough investigation. Every unidentified person needs to be identified. We need laws that require thorough investigations. We need laws that concern the testing of unidentified remains. It’s not good enough, yet.