May 22

10 ways to honor National Missing Children’s Day

Sunday, May 25, is National Missing Children’s Day. Here are 10 ways to honor families across the U.S. who are searching for their children.

1. Share a poster.

Search for a child on our website and share their poster with your friends and family through email or social media.

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2. Take the Pledge.

Pledge to Take 25 minutes to talk to children in your life about safety.

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3. Like us on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get updates about missing kids and the work we are doing to help find them.

Tweets by @MissingKids



4. Make sure your wireless AMBER Alerts are activated.

AMBER Alerts have the power to save lives. Make sure the AMBER Alert notification button is activated on your cell phone so you are alerted if a child in your area goes missing.

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5. Get a free lapel pin and wear it.

Register for a free lapel pin and wear it to show your support for the families of missing children.

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6. Change your profile cover photo.

Start a trend among your friends by changing your cover photo in honor of National Missing Children’s Day

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7. Give.

The work we do to help find missing children and keep families safer relies on donations from people like you.

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8. Bookmark the anniversaries page.

Bookmark our anniversaries page on your browser and check it often to see updated photos of children who went missing during that calendar week.

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9. Make a Child ID.

Make a Child ID for each of your children to make sure you have all the information you need in one place in case your child ever goes missing.

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10. Know what to do if you see a missing child.

No amount of information is too small. If you see a missing child or have any information about a missing child, report it to 1-800-THE-LOST®.

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May 15

The Pre-Season Safety Talk

safetocompete:

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You’ve paid the fees and signed the forms. You’ve bought the right equipment, and you’ve found the perfect snacks. You’ve done everything you can to prepare your child for a successful sports season, but…have you had the pre-season safety talk about sexual abuse? 

If not, the following tips can help you address the issue with children ages 5-17 in a non-threatening and age appropriate manner.

Read More

May 09

Three years pass without any sign of Illinois boy

Three years ago, on May 11, 2011, 6-year-old Timmothy Pitzen was picked up from Greenman Elementary School in Aurora, Illinois. Investigators with the Aurora Police Department say his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, told school officials that there had been a family emergency and she had to take Timmothy. But there was no emergency.

Two days later, Timmothy’s mother was found dead in a Rockford hotel, and Timmothy was gone. Detectives say a haunting note was left behind saying Timmothy was safe, with someone who loved him and that he would never be found.

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Timmothy’s photo is shown age-progressed to 8 years old.

"The image created by NCMEC forensic artists is an important tool in our mission to help bring Timmothy home,” said Detective Lee Catavu of the Aurora Police Department. As the lead investigator in Timmothy’s case, Detective Catavu says the case of the Cleveland women who escaped one year ago, after a decade of captivity, restored his faith that if Timmothy is out there, he will be found.

“Those three women give us all a lot of hope, and we so badly want to find Timmothy,” Detective Catavu said.

Maintaining hope Timmothy will be found

The lead detective on the case, Lee Catavu, said Aurora Police remain steadfast that Timmothy is alive.

“There is not a single person in her life that believes Amy Fry-Pitzen hurt her son,” Catavu said. And, until he has evidence proving otherwise, he will continue to work the case as if Timmothy is somewhere out there, waiting to come home.

Leads and possible sightings continue to trickle in from callers across the country, but police need more. On this three-year anniversary of Timmothy’s disappearance, investigators are hoping the public will take a closer look at his story and perhaps provide key information needed to help bring Timmothy home.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children created the video below about Timmothy’s disappearance as part of a new project called “The Inside Story.” This new video series gives families a special chance to share their unique perspective about their missing loved ones. In her first on-camera interview about the case, Amy’s sister, Kara Jacobs, tells NCMEC she is certain that Timmothy is alive.

Seeking public assistance

Investigators are asking landowners and residents in northwestern Illinois to search their properties for several missing items that may help pinpoint what happened to Timmothy. Since there are several state parks and other popular areas for outdoor activity in the area, police are asking hikers, bikers, boaters and other visitors to be on the lookout for clues.

Police have shared the following missing items that may help find Timmothy:

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Amy bought Timmothy Aquatic Rig toys like the ones above prior to his disappearance.

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Amy bought Timmothy craft case like this before his disappearance.

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Amy bought her son model toy cars like the ones above before his disapperance.

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Amy bought a tube of toothpaste similar to the one above before Timmothy’s disappearance.

Police release information about Amy’s vehicle

Aurora Police contracted a private forensics lab based in Elgin, Illinois, to process the dust, vegetation and other materials found on Amy Fry-Pitzen’s vehicle. According to the forensic findings of Microtrace LLC, detectives believe:

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This photo show’s Amy Fry-Pitzen’s SUV.

Police say the last time anyone heard from Timmothy was May 13, 2011, when he talked to a relative on his mother’s cellphone as the pair was traveling about 5 miles west of Sterling, Illinois.

Share Timmothy’s poster on Twitter and Facebook by clicking the button below.

Tweet

May 07

Concurrent federal investigations bring down exploitation ring

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Brian Bone, Lindsay Costello and Julie Raine of USPIS; Kevin Matthews, Elizabeth Melly and Karen Veltri of the FBI; Melanie Moss of ICE, and Johnathan Bridbord and Christie Gardner of the Department of Justice were honored by FBI Director James Comey for their work to fight exploitaion.

Between 2010 and 2013, three separate concurrent investigations involving the FBI, ICE/HSI, the USPIS, and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, brought down an international child sexual exploitation ring and recovered a child from sex trafficking.

The case started when a user, later identified as Edward Desear, was discovered sharing child sexual abuse images online via a peer to peer network. A separate investigation into an international sexual predator network linked Desear to chats describing the abuse of a child. Following a search warrant, the five-year-old child was placed in the custody of California Child Protective Services. In the meantime, a third investigation was underway on a man named Donn Casper, for buying child porn online. While executing a search warrant on Casper’s residence, investigators recovered a child who was the victim of sexual exploitation. Casper admitted to being a part of an online group of offenders, which led investigators to the arrest of another predator, John Rex Powell.

Knowledge of this “ring” of offenders tied all three cases together.  Members would share tens of thousands of illicit images via encrypted hard drives mailed through the US Postal Service.

In June 2013, Desear was sentenced to 40 years in prison and in December 2013, as part of the FBI investigation, Desear pled guilty to Sex Trafficking of Children and Distribution of Child Pornography and was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison. Desear also agreed to pay $1 million to the victim.

Congratulate the United States Postal Inspection Service, FBI, ICE and Department of Justice.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

Child pornography producer tracked down in Nicaragua

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Senator Ben Cardin helped honored agents David Bradley, Heather Gordon, Kristopher Nordeen and Tonya Sturgill of the FBI; Jonathan Andrews from the Metropolitan Police Department, and Cynthia Miranda of the Montgomery County Police Department for their work to track down an offender.

On June 9, 2008, Eric Justin Toth, a teacher at Beauvoir, The National Cathedral Elementary School, in Washington, D.C., was alleged to have been involved with the production of child sexual abuse images. Toth was immediately placed on administrative leave, but when investigators arrived at his residence, Toth had already fled.  Toth was subsequently indicted for the possession and production of child pornography and for the next four years law enforcement engaged in a relentless search for him—conducting interviews, enlisting the public’s help by utilizing the television program “America’s Most Wanted” and exhausting leads provided by tipsters. 

Toth was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitive List on April 10, 2012.  He was the first sex offender ever added to the list. In April 2013, a year after Toth was added to the list, the team received a credible lead indicating that Toth was residing in Nicaragua.  After much collaboration between agencies, Toth was apprehended and put on a flight back to the U.S.

Toth pled guilty to three counts of production of child pornography and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Congratulate the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC and Montgomery County Police Department.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

FBI’s Operation Cross Country recovers 106 victims of sex trafficking

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Jolene Burns (left), Eric Pauley, Kelly Corbally Moorthy and Kurt Ormberg, all of the FBI, are honored by FBI Director James Comey (back left) and Senator Ted Poe (center) for their work in Operation Cross Country.

Between July 25-28, 2013 the FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Section operated a 24-hour command post in support of Operation Cross Country VII. The command post was established to coordinate intelligence and operations with the 76 cities and 47 FBI Field Offices that participated in OCC VII, the largest iteration to date. The command post coordination efforts effectively led to the successful identification, location and recovery of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation through prostitution, as well as the identification and disruption of the criminal enterprises responsible for their exploitation.

Due to the collaborative efforts between agencies, OCC VII resulted in the recovery of 106 child victims of sex trafficking and the arrest of 151 individuals suspected of being responsible for their exploitation. Additionally, 28 search warrants were executed and 101 child exploitation criminal enterprises were disrupted, representing a 32 percent increase in child recoveries and a 43 percent increase in pimp arrests as compared to OCC VI.

Congratulate the FBI.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

Federal review leads to quick rescue of exploited child

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Adam Parks, Jim Cole, Lauren Morris, Henry Cook, Dante Garrido and Chris Michocki showcase their awards with John Walsh.

On Nov. 1, 2012, ICE/HSI Cyber Crimes Center was alerted to images of a 4-year-old female child being sexually exploited.  The team painstakingly reviewed the images for clues to identify the offender and, in doing so, discovered images in which tattoos on an adult male’s hand and leg were visible as well as images of a woman with star tattoos on her inner elbows. 

Investigators submitted images of the tattoos to the South Carolina Department of Corrections for comparison against tattoos noted on inmate booking forms.  In response, state corrections officials advised that, according to their records, Gerald Ennis Roberts, an inmate formerly incarcerated in the state, had the same tattoos. 

Armed with a name, investigators were able to use social media to find his presence online.  Through photos of his “friends,” they were able to match the tattoos of the unknown female with star tattoos on her elbows in the suspicious images with a woman online.  During her interview with authorities, she was able to identify both the offender and the child victim.

On Nov. 7, 2012, merely six days from receiving the initial lead, state authorities and HSI were able to locate and recover the child victim. The following day, authorities apprehended Gerald Roberts in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and obtained a full confession.  Roberts subsequently pled guilty to production and distribution of child pornography and is currently awaiting sentencing.  He faces a sentence anywhere between 23 to 27 years.

Congratulate ICE for their work to protect kids.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

Coordination between local and federal agencies results in recovery

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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FBI Director James Comey (left) and Reve Walsh (right) honor Troy Dugal from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and Special Agent Renee Green of the FBI for their coordinated work to rescue Hannah Anderson.

On Aug. 3, 2013, after last being seen leaving a cheerleading event, 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and her 8-year-old brother, Ethan, were reported missing from Boulevard, California, a suburb just east of San Diego.  The following day, a fire—later confirmed as arson—was reported at the residence of a family friend, James DiMaggio.  Inside the residence, the remains of an adult female and child—which were later identified as the bodies of Hannah’s mother, Christina Anderson, and brother, Ethan Anderson—were discovered. There was no sign of either Hannah or the suspected abductor, James DiMaggio, in the home. An AMBER Alert was issued for Hannah.

After capturing the suspect’s vehicle on video surveillance at a California Border Patrol checkpoint, investigators were able to narrow down a possible location. Posters were disseminated to national parks and campgrounds situated near the last known location of the suspect’s car.

On Aug. 7, 2013, while horseback riding near Boise National Forest in Idaho, a man unaware of the outstanding AMBER Alert issued for Hannah Anderson, encountered an adult male and female child who he deemed suspicious.  Upon returning home and hearing a news report about Hannah, he called the authorities.

On Aug. 10, 2013, through aerial surveillance, the FBI identified a possible campsite and the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team was deployed.  After hiking to the remote area, the Hostage Rescue Team conducted an operation on the campsite that resulted in the death of the suspect, James DiMaggio, and the successful rescue of Hannah Anderson.

Congratulate the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and FBI.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

Offender confesses after revived investigation

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Sam Thomas of the Illinois State Police, Casey Folks and Dave Hachmeister of the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, Eric Hefel of the City of Galena Police, and Wayne Jackowski and Kimberly Castro of the FBI are honored by NCMEC Board Chair Patty Wetterling (center) and FBI Director James Comey (right).

On Oct. 13, 2011, 14-year-old Chyenne Kircher was reported missing from her home in East Dubuque, Illinois, where she lived with her mother and stepfather, Terry Abbas.  At the time Chyenne went missing, investigators found a note in her mother’s car, in her handwriting, which indicated that she had run away. 

After almost a year and a half without locating Chyenne, the case was reopened. Investigative efforts across numerous federal, state and local agencies were coordinated. Extensive interviews of Chyenne’s family and friends were also conducted and those who knew her well believed that, given her very frequent use of social media, she would have contacted someone if she were still alive.  As these efforts progressed, the investigators shifted their focus to Chyenne’s step-father, Terry Abbas, and foul play within the household.

Following a polygraph examination, Abbas admitted to strangling her on Oct. 13, 2011, the same day she was reported missing.  Abbas ultimately advised that he buried Chyenne’s body in a wooded area behind the house and explained that he had saved Chyenne’s runaway note from a past prank and used it to mislead the police into thinking that she ran away. 

On Oct. 24, 2013, just over two years after Abbas committed the crime, he pled guilty to three counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and one count of concealment of homicidal death under Illinois law.  On Dec. 6, 2013, Abbas was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Congratulate the winners.
Tweet #30YearsOfHope

Name returned to unidentified NYC baby

On Wednesday, May 7 we honored law enforcement from across the U.S. for their work to protect children. Check out all the case summaries on our blog.

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Detective Robert Dewhurst of the NYPD and Sheila Dennis of the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were honored by Commissioner Ray Kelly, formerly of the NYPD (right) for their work to identify an unknown deceased child.

An unidentified Hispanic female was found on July 23, 1991 along New York City’s Henry Hudson Parkway wrapped in plastic garbage bags and stuffed inside a cooler. She was estimated to be between 3-5 years old. Cause of death was ruled asphyxiation from smothering. Authorities named the child Baby Hope.

In the summer of 2005 the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner was asked to have the body of Baby Hope exhumed. Extracting usable DNA from the degraded remains of Baby Hope proved to be a daunting task. A full DNA profile was not completed and uploaded into CODIS until 2012.

In the summer of 2013, Detective Robert Dewhurst, NYPD Cold Case detective, revived the investigation and put the case back in the media spotlight. It was through his unrelenting push for publicity that he received the lead that led to Baby Hope’s identification. A caller reported that they knew the sister to Baby Hope. Authorities followed up on the lead and were finally able to identify the child as Anjelica Castillo.

Anjelica was 4 years old in 1991. She was never reported missing and therefore never entered into NCIC or listed with NCMEC. The investigation led to the arrest of Anjelica’s cousin, Conrado Juarez, on Oct. 12, 2013. He also implicated his sister, Balvena Juarez Ramirez, who allegedly helped dispose of the child’s body. Balvena is now deceased. Conrado was charged with felony murder.

Congratulate the New York Police Department.

Tweet #30YearsOfHope to @NYPDNews