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Michele Knight: We Need to Better…Again

May 7, 2013

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.

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From → The Missing

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