Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Organize a Candlelight Vigil

Please include your own tips, in particular towards planning a candlelight vigil for missing persons in a comment below ...
Involve help and Get the Word Out:  Ask family, friend, co-workers and/or like minded individuals if they'd be interested in volunteering.  Develop fliers, posters and a Press Release to display and distribute about the event.

Establish a Venue, Date and Time: Outdoor locations are often nice is the weather is accomadating towards doing since since they are able to hold a large amount of people ... perhaps a park with a shelter.  Make sure to reserve the venue in advance and check with concerning any restrictions regarding lighting candles at, etc.  Once you've selected a location, choose a date and time - make sure it will be dark enough for the candles to have an impact, but not too late at night that participants of all ages would have trouble attending. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Billy's Law - Connects Databases to FIND a Missing Person

Great article and GREAT Billy's Law Petition Drive Day from our friends at RIT! (You too can sign that petition from anywhere right here - http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-congress-to-pass-billys-law-to...)

Monday, May 9, 2011

NamUs highlighted at Michigan's Missing Persons Day

More Than 15,000 Cases in New Database That Matches Missing Persons and Unidentified

Dead Users Number 10,000
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The number of cases in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System's (NamUs) two databases has reached a combined total of more than 15,000 and the number of registered users has grown to 10,000 since NamUs was launched in January 2009. To date, NamUs is credited with resolving 62 of the missing and unidentified person cases in its databases.

"Reaching 15,000 cases illustrates the exponential growth of NamUs," said John Laub, Director of the National Institute of Justice. "In 2009, we doubled the number of missing person cases in the system, and last year we nearly tripled it. This continued growth is critical because with more cases in the system, more cases can be solved and more families can get the resolutions they have been seeking for so long."

NamUs (www.namus.gov) is a national repository for information about missing and unidentified persons. The public may register to search and report information in the missing person database and may search, but not add, information about unidentified persons. Law enforcement officers, coroners and medical examiners and other professionals may register to search and report information to the missing person database and the unidentified persons database. More than two-thirds of the 10,000 registered NamUs users are members of the general public; the balance are death investigation professionals such as coroners, medical examiners and law enforcement officers. The missing persons database contains 7,148 entries and the unidentified persons database has 7,855 records.

The two cases below illustrate how NamUs works.

David Brennesholtz - On March 8, 2008, an unidentified deceased male was found in Clearwater, Fla. The case was entered into NamUs in July 2008. In November 2009, Sue D'Agostino from Islip, New York, learned of NamUs after seeing a public service announcement. D'Agostino and her family had not heard from her brother, David Brennesholtz, for several years and began searching the unidentified side of NamUs.

She came across Unidentified Person Case #2297 and thought the face in the photo could be her brother and contacted the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's office with her inquiry. Family DNA reference samples were taken and the unidentified man in Clearwater was positively identified as D'Agostino's missing brother.

Ronald Norman - On December 8, 1991, Ronald Norman, 42, went missing from the foster care home where he lived in Detroit, Mich. He went for a walk and was never seen again. The following April, two fishermen came across a body floating in Lake Erie. The medical examiner determined the victim's cause of death was drowning. The unidentified man was buried as "John Doe." Then in 2008, Mr. Norman's case was entered into NamUs, and he became Missing Person (MP) case #829.

In 2011, the Michigan State Police began entering their unidentified cases into NamUs, and the unidentified man found in Lake Erie became Unidentified Person (UP) case #8484. As soon as the UP case was entered, the NamUs automated cross-matching feature flagged UP #8484 and MP #829 as a potential match. The two cases had similar features – specifically missing teeth, a skull injury and the type of clothing Mr. Norman wore when he was last seen. The medical examiner ultimately made a positive identification of Ronald Newman. This was the first resolved case as a result of the NamUs automated cross-matching feature.

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, local law enforcement agencies in Detroit, Mich., will highlight NamUs at the Michigan's Missing Persons Day. More information about this event is available by contacting Detective/Trooper Sarah Krebs, Michigan State Police, tel. 313-215-0675, email: krebss@michigan.gov.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

More information about OJP and its components can be found at http://www.ojp.gov.
Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
(202) 307-0703
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice - Office of Justice Programs

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Annual Walk for Missing Daughter, Kara Kopestky

The mother of a missing girl is getting support from the community and other parents on Mother's Day

Posted: 05/07/2011
Last Updated: 1 hour and 8 minutes ago
BELTON, Missouri - Each Mother’s Day gets tougher for Rhonda Beckford.

Back on May 4, 2007, her daughter, Kara Kopestky disappeared.

“It's kind of like a rollercoaster it's got its ups and downs and we've had eight searches,” said Beckford.
The last images of Kopestky were captured from a surveillance camera inside Belton High School.

Despite the extensive searches, including one in South Kansas City, earlier this year and dozens of tips, investigators still do not have any idea what happened to Kara.

On Saturday, dozens of people walked down the streets in Belton in hopes of drumming up more tips that will help find Kara.

The annual walk serves as a reminder for the day she disappeared.
Read more about the Kara Kopestky case.
“It's amazing to have all these people show up for years later. There still hoping and searching right along with us. We know we're not alone and that helps us,” said Beckford.

She said that her faith has helped keep her going.

One person who understands what Beckford is going through is Greg Smith.

Read more about the Kelsey Smith case.
His daughter Kelsey, 18, was killed in May 2007 after she was abducted from an Overland Park Target store near her home. Authorities eventually used the ping information to determine where her cell phone had traveled in the hours after her disappearance and found her body in a wooded area of Longview Lake four days after her disappearance.

Edwin R. Hall, of Olathe, has since pleaded guilty to her abduction, rape and murder and is serving a life sentence in a Kansas penitentiary.

Smith said he can still feel when people pray for the family. He said “it is a palpable feeling for us.”
Smith hopes similar prayers will help Beckford find her daughter.

There is an $80,000 reward for the person who helps find Kara.

Source:  http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/news/crime/the-mother-of-a-missing-girl-is-getting-support-from-the-community-and-other-parents-on-mother%27s-day

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