Susan Morrow was reunited with her children 13 years after they were abducted by their father. Read about her experience in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
Susan, David and Monica spend time together after being reunited almost 13 years after David and Monica were abducted by their father.
On Nov. 2, 1987, my two children, Monica, 6, and David, 1½, were abducted by their father and taken to Mexico. I did not know about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There was no Team HOPE to provide support at that time. I did not know where to turn or what to do.
What I fervently did know was that I would find and be with my children no matter the obstacles. Above all, I vowed I would never give up hope.
During the almost 13 years it took for me to locate and reunite with Monica and David, my journey had many twists, turns and often heartbreaking dead-ends.
For a long time, I was unable to look at or touch my children’s toys and clothes that were left behind. I would drive by the school where Monica had attended kindergarten and start to cry. A child in a stroller would remind me of David.
On June 27, 1995, a Volkswagen was traveling down Route 58 West around midafternoon in Greensville County, Virginia. There were two people in the car, the driver and one passenger. Police think the driver fell asleep. He ran off the road, hit two trees and both he and his passenger were killed instantly. The driver of the car was identified quickly and his family was notified. The passenger in the car is still searching for an identity.
The unknown victim is known at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as John Emporia Doe1995. With no one to speak for him, his clothes, possessions and even his hair style and body markings tell a story.
This unkown victim was found deceased on June 27, 1995 in Virginia.
He was found wearing a Grateful Dead tie-dyed t-shirt from the 1995 summer tour, blue Fila sneakers size 11.5, a macramé beaded necklace and blue jeans. In his pockets were two Grateful Dead tickets from that week, a Bic lighter, four quarters and a note. The note was written to “Jason” from Caroline O. and Caroline T. The victim had a homemade tattoo of a star on his upper right arm, and scar on the middle of his back.
On April 20, 2012, Isabel Celis was reported missing. Local media in Tucson, Ariz. reported on the case immediately following her disappearance, helping attract public awareness and even search volunteers. As the days and months went by, the media slowed and then stopped reporting on Isabel’s case all together. But Isabel’s family did not forget, neither did we.
When a child goes missing law enforcement and families work with media to publicize the child’s name and face. But when the child is still missing one, five, 10 years later, the media often loses interest.
Isabel Celis was last seen on April 20, 2012 at her home in Tucson, Ariz.
The more people who see a photo of a child, the better chance someone will recognize him or her. So families often spend substantial time and effort to get their child’s face on TV, online and in print.
We know how difficult it can be to keep up a relationship with the media. We see this publicity fatigue happen in case after case. To combat this fatigue our team sends anniversary press releases to the media every month.
Vicki Kelly lost her son 14 years ago, but continues to honor his memory by helping other families with missing children. Read the first post in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
On Jan. 26, 1999, my 17-year-old son Tommy Kelly disappeared. I called law enforcement the next day when Tommy didn’t come home. No one runs away and leaves his truck, his pager and his pay check. Law enforcement took a phone report. I was told by the deputy sheriff that Tommy was “just probably a runaway” and to give it a few more days.
Tommy Kelly went missing in 1999. His remains were found a year and a half later.
An officer didn’t come to the house, Tommy’s picture wasn’t requested. We were told just to wait.
Four weeks after Tommy disappeared, law enforcement called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. I received a call from Gerry Nance, a NCMEC case manager. For the first time I felt someone was truly listening to me - that no one runs away and leaves his truck, his pager and his pay check.
A 7-year-old girl doesn’t come home from school at a designated time. A 4-year-old boy goes missing from a neighborhood park.
The public hears these stories all too often. They read about them in newspapers and magazines. They see the faces of missing children cycled through 24-hour news networks. They hear interviews of frantic families and determined law enforcement.
But what happens when a 19-year-old, who lives with his family, leaves home and can’t be located? Scenarios like this happen all too often, like the case of Jackson Miller.
Jackson Miller was last seen by his family on May 15, 2010 in Cupertino, Calif.
On May 15, 2010 19-year-old Jackson Miller left his home in Cupertino, Calif. His car was found parked at the Golden Gate Bridge and his ID and wallet were found inside. Bridge officials did not report any jumps from the bridge at the time and law enforcement officials are still searching for him.
Cases of older teens can be tricky for families and law enforcement. Young adults ages 18, 19 and 20 may not be considered traditional “children” in the eyes of the media or public. But we see these cases every day and know how serious they can be.