May 07

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

May 01

Take 25 and Be a Champion for Child Safety

As an adult, you’re responsible for creating safe environments for kids. But too often, kids are faced with the unexpected, like abduction and sexual exploitation. Take safety a step further by talking to kids often about ways they can keep themselves safe from victimization.

Take the Pledge

Our Take 25 campaign encourages parents and guardians, educators, law-enforcement officers and other trusted adults to Pledge to take 25 minutes out of their day to talk to children about safety. Currently, more than 400 people have pledged 25 minutes each, that’s almost 10,000 minutes of safety conversations. You can be one of the featured champions by taking the Pledge today.

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Practice safety with Take 25 activities

Once you’ve pledged, how should you start that 25 minute conversation? One way is to use one of our Take 25 Safety Activities. These activities encourage children ages 5-17 to think critically about safety issues and practice safer behaviors. Each activity focuses on one or more of the Take 25 safety themes:

One of the available Take 25 Safety Activities is “Neighborhood Map.” The activity gives trusted adults the opportunity to talk with kids about safe places to go in the neighborhood. Kids will be asked to draw a map of the route they walk to and from school or their neighborhood. Then they will mark all the places they should avoid with a red “X.” They will mark all the places they can find help with a green circle.

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Trusted adults can use the map above to help kids find safe places to go in their neighborhood.

Other ways to get involved

Protecting children is a community effort. Everyone can do their part by helping us spread the Take 25 message. Here are a few simple things you can do to help:

Learn more about our Take 25 campaign by visiting www.take25.org.

Apr 24

Daughter abducted by mother, father left searching

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Ssamali Kwatia has been missing since March 31, 2013. View her poster.

When Ssamali Joy Kwatia’s father Mark last saw his daughter in early 2013, she was 4 years old. She already loved swimming and gymnastics, and was ready to take on soccer. Mark says she asked him often if she could play. More than a year later, he does not know where his daughter is or if she has had the chance to give soccer a try.

Ssamali was last seen on March 31, 2013 with her mother, Joan Kiyenje. A felony warrant for child abduction was issued for Joan on April 11, 2013.

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Ssamali’s mother, Joan Kiyenje, was issued a felony warrant for child abduction.

When they were last seen Joan was returning a rental car to Lake Bluff, Ill. Neither the mother or daughter has been heard from since.

Ssamali enjoys a trip to the beach with her father in this video he provided to NCMEC.

Mark says his daughter enjoyed sharing stories about what happened at school and church. Her favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, and “believe it or not,” says Mark, avocado and pasta.

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Ssamali Kwatia’s dissapearance is being investigated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service.

Ssamali is now 5 years old. She is a black female with brown eyes and black hair. When she was last seen she was 3 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 40 pounds.

Do you have any information about where Ssamali Kwatia may be? Call us at 1-800-THE-LOST. View and share Ssamali’s poster here.

Apr 17

New Facebook page for unidentified children

Today we’re launching a new Facebook page and need your help spreading the word. Like our newest page, “Help ID Me,” and share it with your friends!

Help ID Me is a page dedicated to finding the names of unknown children. These children — often found deceased without any information that can tell law enforcement who they were — deserve to have their names back. We have a caseload of approximately 650 unidentified persons and are working to find an identity for each and every one.

To help with this identification process we have uploaded images and information associated with each case in photo albums, categorized by state. We will also highlight one case a month on the page. Read this month’s story about a successful identification.

Play a part in this goal by liking and sharing the Help ID Me page.

Michelle Garvey was known as Jane Doe for 31 years. In 2014 Michelle was finally given her name back. Read more about her story on Help ID Me.

Apr 09

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Apr 03

Help us share photos of missing children

You never know who might recognize a missing child’s photo. This is why we share photos with as many people as possible, but there is only so much we can do. We need your help. Become a poster partner at www.missingkids.com to start receiving photos via email of children missing in your area.

Here are a few things to know before becoming a poster partner.

Sign up for as many regions as you want.

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Some people want to know about as many missing children as they can. Some only want to know about children missing near them. The poster partner program has been seperated into six regions, so either way you can help. You can sign up to receive posters from your region, a few regions or all six.

Posters must remain in their original format.

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We strongly encourage people to print and share posters, however the posters cannot be altered or edited. Posters must remain in their original format with NCMEC’s name, logo and toll-free number.

Display posters in your community.

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Some great places to display posters are coffee shops, community centers and other locations members of your community frequent. But remember, ask permission before displaying a poster.

Follow up if a child is recovered.

When a child is recovered, they deserve privacy as they reunify with their family. We try to respect that privacy by halting the distribution of their poster. If you forward a missing child’s poster to an email list, please notify that same list of the child’s recovery. If you’ve displayed printed posters in public places, remove those posters to the best of your ability.

Sign up for the poster partner program: www.missingkids.com/Posters

Mar 27

Our CyberTipline receives thousands of reports every week of suspected child sexual abuse images online. We in turn notify Electronic Service Providers of the suspected child sexual abuse images hosted on their services.

In 2013 the average removal time of these images decreased 54.8 percent to 1.99 days. Learn more about the CyberTipline at www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.

Our CyberTipline receives thousands of reports every week of suspected child sexual abuse images online. We in turn notify Electronic Service Providers of the suspected child sexual abuse images hosted on their services.

In 2013 the average removal time of these images decreased 54.8 percent to 1.99 days. Learn more about the CyberTipline at www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.

Mar 20

What to do if your child goes missing

It is our hope at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® that you will never need to know what it is like to have a missing child. However, we also know there is no such thing as too much preparation. Here are some first steps you should take if your child goes missing. For a more comprehensive checklist download our Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families.

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If your child goes missing, immediately call your local law enforcement agency.

First steps

  1. Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
  2. After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).
  3. If your child is missing from home, search through: closets, piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside large appliances, vehicles – including trunks, and anywhere else that a child may crawl or hide.
  4. Notify the store manager or security office if your child cannot be found when in a store. Then immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action in place.

Additional actions

  1. Secure your child’s room and personal belongings until law enforcement conducts a search.
  2. Secure any computers and wireless devices used by your child, but do not attempt to conduct a search of these devices on your own. Ask law enforcement to look for clues in any chat and social-networking sites your child has visited or hosts.
  3. Have a photo of and information about your child ready to provide to law enforcement. For a full list of items and descriptive information to provide, visit www.missingkids.com/ChildID.
  4. Restrict access to the home, no matter where your child was last seen, until law enforcement has arrived and had the opportunity to search the home and surrounding area.
  5. Contact the National Runaway Safeline, if your child may have runaway, at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929) or visit www.1800runaway.org for assistance including information about developing communication with your child.
  6. Stay in regular contact with law enforcement, the media, and local government officials during the search for your child.
  7. Notify law enforcement, NCMEC, and other agencies assisting in the search as soon as your child is located.