Sep 17

New age progression released for child missing since 1958

News articles from November 1958 recount the days after 7-year-old Adele Wells went missing from Flint, Michigan. Search and rescue teams combed the area where she was last seen. Boy scouts, firefighters and volunteers all assisted to try and find this child. Today Adele is 63 years old and still missing.


The image on the left shows Adele as a child, the new age-progressed image on the right shows what Adele Wells may look like today.

We have released an age progressed photo of what Adele would look like today. Her family has always held out hope that she was taken by someone and raised as their own child. If you think you may be Adele or have any information about her whereabouts, call 1-800-843-5678. 


The Toledo Blade published this short story about Adele in 1958.

Sixty years have passed and the search is still on-going. Adele was last seen leaving her house wearing a blue dress with small animals along the hemline, and a grey cotton coat. View her poster here:

Sep 12

A letter to our missing daughter, Morgan Nick


Morgan Nick, missing since 1995, and her kitten Emily.

Dearest Morgan,

Today is your 26th birthday. Today marks twenty birthdays without you here. We miss you so desperately and our hearts are ragged with grief. We have searched for you every single day since the day you were kidnapped from us at the Little League Baseball field in Alma, Arkansas.

You were only 6 years old. We went with our friends to watch one of their children play in the game. You threw your arms around my neck in a bear hug, planted a kiss on my cheek, and ran to catch fireflies with your friends.

It is the last time that I saw you. There have been so many days since then of emptiness and heartache.

On this birthday I choose to think about your laughter, your smile, the twinkle in your sparkling blue eyes. I celebrate who you are and the deep and lasting joy that you bring to our family.

I smile today as I think about your 5th birthday. For that birthday, we took you to the Humane Society with the promise of adopting a kitten. You, my precious little girl with your big heart, took one look around the cat room and picked out the ugliest, scrawniest, most pitiful looking kitten in the entire place. Such a tiny little thing, that it was mostly all eyes.

Dad and I used our best parental powers of persuasion to get you to pick a different kitten, to look at the older cats, to choose any other feline besides that poor ugly kitty. It looked like someone had taken the worst leftover colors of mud, stirred them together, and used them to design a kitten. 

You planted your five-year-old feet, looked us straight in the eye and declared that this was the kitten you were taking home. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You would not budge and you resolutely refused to take a second look at any other cat or kitten in the room.  You had a fire of conviction in your heart.

The unexpected obstacle we faced was that we were not able to adopt on that Saturday, but had to wait until Monday to finalize. For the rest of the weekend and all day Monday, you fretted and pouted and worried that someone else would take “your” kitten home with them. We tried to assure you that no one else would want that cat. We didn’t want to say it was because it was so tiny, or so ugly, or so-nothing-at-all-but-eyes. You could see only beauty and you were in love.

Finally, Monday afternoon came and dad brought it home with him after work. In that moment, your daddy was your biggest hero because he had saved your kitten.

You tenderly snuggled that little bit of fur into your arms and declared that her name was Emily. You adored your new kitten and she loved you right back. Emily gained some weight and filled out a bit. Her colors started to take shape. We began to see the same beauty in her that you had seen in that very first moment.

Where you went, Emily went. You played together. You ate together. You watched Barney together. You slept together.

Which brings me to the photo. It captures everything we love about you. I would slip into your room late at night and stand there, watching the two of you sleeping together, in awe of your sweetness, and my heart would squeeze a little tighter.

So many birthdays have passed since then. So many days since a stranger ripped you from our hearts.

My sweet girl, if you should happen to read this, we want you to know how very important and special you are to us. You are a blessing we cannot live without. We feel cheated by every day that goes by and we do not see your smile, hear your bubbly laughter, or listen to your thoughts and ideas. We have never stopped believing that we will find you. We are saving all our hugs and kisses for you. 

Please be strong and brave, with a fire of conviction in your heart, just like the day you picked out your kitten!

On this birthday we promise you that we will always fight for you. We will bring you back home to our family where you belong. We will always love you! We will never give up. 

Love Mom & Dad

Today, Sept. 12, is Morgan Nick’s birthday. She has been missing since she was 6. Morgan Nick was last seen on June 9, 1995. View and share her poster here.


Sep 10

Let trafficking victims have their day in court

Sexually explicit language advertising the sale of children for sex is a common business practice for

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children filed an amicus brief urging the Washington State Supreme Court to allow three child sex trafficking victims to have their day in court against the online classified advertising website owned by Backpage LLC.


Our brief was filed in response to Backpage’s motion to dismiss the victims’ case. It argues that Backpage enables the development of child sex trafficking ads on its site, which results in the repeated sexual exploitation and victimization of children.

In the past five years, our Child Sex Trafficking Team has seen a 1,432-percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking. Today the majority of child sex trafficking ads reported to us involve ads posted on

Despite Backpage’s knowledge that it has created a lucrative marketplace for child sex trafficking on its website, it has rejected most of our past recommendations to help reduce the selling and buying of children for sex on its website. Backpage has only made minimal efforts to curb the posting of child sexual exploitative content.

Child sex trafficking is a pervasive and destructive crime. Our amicus brief asks the court to allow the victims’ case to move forward to assure the fair adjudication of a matter so greatly important to the safety of children across the United States.

We joined the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and the following nonprofits in support of the child victims: National Crime Victim Law Institute, Shared Hope International, Covenant House, Human Rights Project for Girls, FAIR Girls, and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Read all the amicus briefs and underlying court papers here.

Sep 02

Nine years after Katrina, family reunification planning a priority

Sharon Hawa is the Program Manager of Emergency Communications at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Sharon works closely with the emergency management and disaster communities at the local, state and federal levels to promote the importance of planning for children in disasters.

This year marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and emergency managers have learned a tremendous amount about how to better respond to disasters in its wake. The reunification of families separated during these disasters is still and will always be an important facet of emergency planning. However, the responsibility of reunification planning does not solely rest on the shoulders of emergency managers. Anyone looking after children should have a plan in place.

When children are separated from those who best understand their individual needs, they have greater difficulty coping, adding more anxiety and stress to their situation. Children separated during a disaster may be more vulnerable to maltreatment, abuse, kidnapping and exploitation.

Families and caretakers can begin preparing for disasters big or small — such as mudslides, floods, earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes — by making a plan.

How to prepare for separation during a disaster

  1. Know your child’s school and day care emergency evacuation and reunification plans. Some schools and day cares have emergency plans for a variety of scenarios, but recent studies indicate many do not. If your child’s school or day care does not have a reunification plan, encourage them to reach out to their school district or local emergency management agency to discuss developing one.
  2. Develop and regularly practice emergency plans at home with children and pets in case your family is separated. Designate an out-of-state relative or close friend to become “communications central” for the family. Because local phone lines may be down or inundated in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, someone out-of-state will be best positioned to receive calls. Displaced family members with access to a phone could call the out-of-state contact – typically without issue – to share and receive messages from other family members.
  3. Designate a location where your family could gather in the event of separation. This could be a playground, park or a local landmark that’s easy for children to get to if they need to on their own.
  4. Create a Child ID Kit for each child. This should include a recent color photograph of the child’s face, descriptive information, fingerprints, medical and dental records or bite impressions, and a DNA sample. This sample could be taken from any number of your child’s grooming items such as a hairbrush or toothbrush.
  5. Make copies of any legal paperwork if you are your child’s court designated primary caregiver in a custodial separation or divorce. Share them with any relatives or close friends in other states, or carry the paperwork with you in an emergency kit.

Sometimes, no matter how much you have planned, the worst happens: you become separated from your children. This is why we run the Unaccompanied Minors Registry. Through this online registry individuals can report a child who is accounted for, but separated from their caregivers. Anyone can report a separated child to the Unaccompanied Minors Registry, including emergency managers on the ground during a disaster. Reporting persons input basic information about the unaccompanied child to the registry and can even upload a photo of him/her. We then cross-reference any reports through this registry against phone calls from searching parents.


Sharon Hawa poses with a Gabrielle, a child who was reunited with her family after being separated during Hurricane Katrina.

Since we’re at the height of hurricane season, take a few moments now to prepare your family in case of disaster. 

For more emergency planning tips, visit

Sep 01


Aug 27

Deceased boy found in 1981 with straitjacket nearby

The body of a young man wrapped in a blanket was lying on the side of a heavily traveled parkway with a straitjacket nearby. Who was he and where did he come from? We need your help finding those answers.

On Aug. 2, 1981, the U.S. Park Police received a phone call from an anonymous caller. There was a body lying in grass along the side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Greenbelt, Maryland.

This 29-mile scenic highway, maintained by the National Park Service, is a two lane, tree lined artery connecting the Nation’s Capital to the Charm City. Even in 1981, it was a busy road.

The body was wrapped in a blue blanket, similar to one you would see at a hospital or hotel. The young man’s ankles and his right foot were wrapped in bandages. Within a few feet of the body were a canvas straitjacket and one beige blanket with “U.S.” written on it.

Where did he come from?

Because of the items found with the boy’s body, investigators believe the he may have been a patient at a local treatment facility.


The John Doe’s body was located along the side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The body was found not far from Forest Haven, a D.C. government institution for developmentally disabled persons. That facility was eventually shut down in 1991 after a lawsuit and monitoring revealed extensive abuse and problems with the care of patients. However, Forest Haven was not the only facility in the general area. For example, Spring Grove Mental Hospital, Walter Reed Medical Center and Crownsville Medical Center were located elsewhere in the region in 1981.

The search continues

A medical examiner estimated that the John Doe had been dead for several days before being found. He was likely between 15 and 22 years old. He was malnourished, weighing about 106 lbs. His teeth were severely decayed, crooked and uneven. One report also noted that he had long fingernails. He was black with medium length kinky hair.  

In 1981 the Park Police made contact with several local hospitals, local and federal law enforcement agencies seeking missing persons reports in attempts to identify the victim. They sent fingerprints to the FBI. Nothing matched the John Doe they found in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In 2011, the Park Police took advantage of our assistance. Members of our team later met with Park Police Detective Monique Pettett to discuss new investigative opportunities. 

Det. Pettett discovered that the John Doe’s body was cremated in 1982, but she didn’t give up there. She found two black and white autopsy photographs, the autopsy report and a piece of the young man’s hair. She submitted the hair for DNA testing and uploaded the results to a national DNA database.

Det. Pettett has also contacted 52 U.S. states and jurisdictions requesting the John Doe’s fingerprints be searched through each fingerprint database in attempts to find a match. She has also entered the case in national missing and unidentified person databases such as NCIC, ViCAP and Namus.

We need your help

While Det. Pettett and the U.S. Park Police continue to work tirelessly to find out who this young man was, we are looking for the public’s help.

Did you work in a medical facility in the area in the early 80s or know someone who did? Do you have a missing family member who may have been placed in a medical facility? Do you recognize this young man? Call us at 1-800-843-5678.

Aug 21

Think child safety as students return to school

As summer comes to a close, there’s a lot to accomplish before the school year. There are school supplies to purchase, outfits to lay out and lunches to plan. But the first thing on your to-do list should be to talk to your child about safety.

A family participates in our Take 25 Safety Fair in Alexandria, Virginia.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has been tracking attempted abductions around the country since 2005, and we now know that there may be certain times when children are more at-risk of being abducted.

Our analysis shows that 32 percent of attempted abductions occurred when a child was going to or from school or a school-related activity. Thirty-four percent of attempted abductions happened between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.


“Although child safety should be a priority every day, our attempted abduction analysis has demonstrated greater risk of abduction when children are going to and from school or school-related activities,” said Nancy McBride, executive director of our Florida Regional Office.

We also kept count of those attempted abductions where it was known how the child escaped their potential abductor. In more than half of those cases, children walked or ran away from the suspect. In 32 percent of those cases, children reacted in some way such as kicking, pulling away or attracting attention.

While running away or attracting attention to yourself may seem second nature, it isn’t always to children. Take the opportunity before school begins to teach your children what to do if someone approaches them and tries to take them away.


Use these resources to help you start the conversation with your kids about safety as they travel to and from school.

Aug 19

Missing child may be in Mexico


Steven Campbell’s father last saw his son in 2011. Steven went missing from El Paso, Texas in July 2011 and hasn’t been seen since. Law enforcement believes Steven and his mother may be in Mexico. We need the public’s help sharing Steven’s photo with friends and family in Mexico who may see him. For more information see Steven’s poster.


Steven Campbell and his father on Christmas in 2010.

Steven and his father fishing in 2011.

Steven was allegedly abducted by his mother, Karla Campbell. A federal warrant for International Parental Kidnapping was issued for Karla on August 9, 2012.


Steven was allegedly abducted by his mother, Karla Campbell. She may have fled with him to Mexico.

This video of Steven was taken by his father before he went missing. If you have any information about Steven Campbell call us at 1-800-843-5678.

Aug 15

Woman abducted as infant speaks at Crimes Against Children Conference

This week, 20 of our employees attended the Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas. The annual conference, which started in 1988, is the country’s premier training event for professionals working to combat child victimization.

This year, our staff collectively gave seven presentations, but one of those was likely more impactful than the others. For the first time, Carlina White, a woman abducted as an infant, spoke before a group of law enforcement professionals.


Carlina White presented to law enforcement at the 2014 Crimes Against Children Conference. Sheryl Stokes (left) is a member of our Family Advocacy Division.

Carlina was abducted from her parents when she was 19 days old after they’d brought her to a New York City Hospital. When she was 23 years old, Carlina found pictures of herself on our website and called our hotline, eventually becoming reunited with her biological parents.

Carlina presented with Sheryl Stokes, a member of our Family Advocacy Division who’s worked with Carlina since her identity was learned. Their session, titled “Carlina White: Infant Abduction through the Eyes of a Survivor and Lessons Learned from Professionals,” left attendees tearing up as they heard how her abduction impacted her life and those of her loved ones.

“I wanted to help law enforcement understand how long-term missing children are emotionally impacted by their abductions,” Carlina said. “I hope that if they have this understanding, other children like me will have the support they need to live happy and successful lives.”

This isn’t the first year we’ve participated in the Crimes Against Children Conference. Members of our team have attended for close to 20 years — delivering unique presentations and sharing what we’ve learned about helping to keep children safer.


Members of our Project ALERT team staffed our table and talked to conference participants about the services we offer to law enforcement.

“It is essential we attend this event, not only to share our knowledge and expertise but to keep up with new information and emerging trends,” said Kristen Anderson, director of Training and Outreach.

We are so proud of Carlina for sharing her story and thank the law enforcement professionals who attended the conference for all they do to fight crimes against children.

Aug 07