Saturday, March 18, 2017 we held the first meeting of the Moms of Missing Persons Support Group. Of the five guests, three were moms who experienced the trauma and despair of having their children taken. During the meeting, the moms listened to, and shared with the group, how they coped with the sudden loss of their children.
Each mom's story was different; with some similar elements. One mom's teen daughter was kidnapped and recovered a short time later. Another mom's toddler son was kidnapped by his father and taken to another country. The mom, 19 at the time, pursued her son's father into the other country, and got her son back. A third mom's teen daughter disappeared without a trace--blocks away from her quiet, suburban home. The teen is still missing.
Each mom's story was compelling, heartbreaking, and emotional. Each mom's story had similarities with the others; such as indifference and a lack of urgency by some local law enforcement officials. All the moms admitted they and their families are still coping with serious consequences and after-effects related to their child's ordeal.
The main goal of the Moms of Missing Persons Support Group is to provide an opportunity for moms of missing persons to find, communicate with, and support each other. Only moms of the missing can fully understand what it feels like to have a child stolen from; whether the child is 2 or 22 years old.
Another goal is creating a partnership to improve the way cases are investigated (by law enforcement and others); and concurrently, increase missing persons recoveries. This group of Moms of missing persons are determined and like-minded. They are uniquely "qualified" to offer genuine ideas, sensitivity, and "real-world" experience about how missing persons cases ought to be investigated and managed. No one is more invested in solutions and positive outcomes of missing persons cases than these moms.
In summary, all the moms agreed that the following issues require attention:
1. Improve law enforcement training on handling missing persons cases.
2.) Law enforcement needs to improve the way they communicate with victims and their families.
3.) Inter-agency communication and investigations need better coordination because victims may be moved to other jurisdictions to prevent their recovery.
4.) Policies and/or training should be established to eliminate investigator/first responder bias and subjectivity when interacting with victims, family members and the media.
5.) Investigators should partner/collaborate with family members, witnesses and others to improve the efficiency of missing person investigations; and victim recovery.
At the conclusion of this meeting, all the attendees agreed to participate in future meetings to develop ideas that address the five (5) issues above.