Safe and Found: Who Comes to Look for You?

Safe and Found Cover

        A Very Special Project – When children are missing, who comes to look for you?

How to reach children? How to teach children in the most effective way about the perils and the positives of the world?  In the past there have been a variety of programs such as “stranger danger,” “Just Say No” the DARE Program, “McGruff, Take a Bite Out of Crime Dog” and others.

However, when it comes to missing persons, children need to know that the boys in blue or those with the bright red fire truck don’t do it all.

Monica Caison, Founder of the Cue Center for the Missing based in Wilmington, NC, conceptualized an educational, illustrative activity book.  Safe and Found not only identifies what those who search and rescue do, but also teaches children about trust.

Monica Caison, CUE Center for Missing Persons, Donna R. Gore

Monica Caison

The easy to read book features word games and a quiz to test a child’s knowledge and topic suggestions for further discussion.  The 23 page book, Safe and Found is a treasure in that it has the potential to engage children from kindergarten through 5th grade and beyond in a variety of ways. It accomplishes this through reading, active listening, coloring, doing word games and stimulating discussion.

The content is presented in terms familiar to children, discussing getting lost, the feelings surrounding it, sights and sounds a child may hear in the process of rescue. Safe and Found explains search and rescue equipment, the vehicles used, search animals, and advice about getting lost in a crowd.  Most importantly, there are comforting reassurances for children on every page, up to the point where they are reunited with parents.

The section Tips on Trust helps children define a true stranger, the circumstances of trust, and using judgement and responsibility. A final section of Safe and Found contains information about “packing blue” as the magic colors for searchers, as well as safe berries and plants which are edible.

The language is conversational and familiar for young audiences, skillfully written by Anita Sullivan whose brother, Michael Austin Davis has been missing for several years. The illustrations are crisp, clear, animated and truly assist making the story of search and rescue come alive thanks to the artistry of illustrator John Santillo.

Safe and Found has the flexibility to be used in schools, church and civic groups, boys and girls clubs, family gatherings and more.  It also serves as an introduction to the Cue Center for Missing Persons, founded in 1994 and serving more than 9,000 missing persons to date.

To schedule a presentation of Safe and Found for your group with a Cue Center State Outreach Coordinator in your area, contact  CUE Center for Missing Persons, P.O. Box 12714, Wilmington, North Carolina 28404. Address requests as: Attention: Permission Presentations.

CUE Center for Missing Persons


All presentations are done by those who volunteer their time and services to the organization. Donations or honorariums are gratefully accepted which assist the organization to continue to search for those who are lost. Donations can be made securely online, at the CUE Center website, or mailed directly to the address above.

Perseverance with a Purpose: The Cue Center for Missing Persons 2015 Conference


No matter how it is traditionally measured, perseverance took center stage at this year’s 11th Annual Community United Effort for the Missing Conference. It is “the glue of one’s existence” once a missing person and/or potential homicide occurs. Weeks, months, years can pass while the mind, the heart and “every molecule” searches for the reason why with the fervent hope of a rescue versus a recovery.

In the beginning, assumptions are made by families that surely with all of the professionals involved, a blanket of publicity, clues, answers to the puzzle and a final outcome leading to justice will be theirs.

However, reality is often a bitter pill. Crime victim families are never prepared for the onslaught of the hard truths and emotions that “come with the package.” Monica Caison, aka “the Searcher,” the Founder of CUE and the visionary for families of the missing, guides the wounded and broken-hearted to a better place once trust is established.  Her uncompromising standards of excellence have paved the way for unparalleled success in many arenas and won the respect of professionals in the realm of missing persons. It takes a nationwide network and a very special village of dedicated individuals to accomplish her work in order to mend families on the path of their “new normal.”

The 2015 11th Annual Conference was my fourth time witnessing an incredible coming together of good souls, talented people with a mission in their hearts to serve, honor and educate. Unlike other professional conferences, this gathering is never about a “fee for service.” Rather, it is all about community as the name states in a way that no other gathering achieves! New people from across the country “attend and blend” with the veterans who have chosen to use their grief, along with interested volunteers for a productive purpose. In my experience, it takes but one exposure to this event to “hook you forever.” It matters not what your affiliation is you will be transformed!

“The Framework”

At some point in the sequence of events, a “light bulb” will appear. It could occur when Chip Krieger, a personable master of ceremonies, perpetually keeps the action going with a full agenda, good humor and lots of respect for the participants. He also doles out the many donated gift baskets as if,” just for a moment”, we think this must be a cruise, rather than a conference for the missing!

A brief three-hour period of levity in which you can dance and sing the night away to karaoke favorites or “dress up goofy” in the photo booth! What fun! (I got my souvenir with Monica!)

The lightbulb moment could happen when you participate in a newly created law enforcement panel who fields questions previously gone unanswered. Truth be told, families do want answers more than anything. However, often there is no answer, or the answer varies based upon the jurisdiction. In any case, courage abounds whether you are on the law enforcement side of the table or the survivor‘s side.

Drones 101” The Wave of the Future, and how they pertain to search and recovery efforts (as well as over 300 + other uses in the future was presented by John Minor, military and academic expert  of the Unmanned Vehicle University based  in Phoenix , AZ.

Your light bulb may begin to shine when learning about “No Body Convictions” that have occurred with increasing frequency and gained wider acceptance thanks to expert skilled prosecutor and author Tad DiBiase.  Still another reason for hope and perseverance.

The hard truths about Human Trafficking and all of its ugliness (the who, what, where when and why) were laid out as Criminologist, and Director of the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute,  Sheryl McCollum and co-presenter Duane Thompson, Ph.D; gave an animated presentation of their investigative experiences in Atlanta.

The “Jane Wayne of the Courtroom” and cable TV, attorney  Holly Hughes,  gave a rousing presentation, Legal facts that can damage your case, discussing the “don’ts”  for crime victims which can damage their cases. Good practical advice interspersed with real courtroom examples!

Victim families are always interested in the forensic side of cases. Commander Peter Cestare educated participants concerning   the processing of the crime scene, and preservation through the presentation of evidence during courtroom testimony in Crime Scene to Courtroom.

Pet First Aid Class

Pet First Aid Class

Early in the conference, I heard rave reviews about the “hands on- on the floor” training regarding the importance of “Canine First Aide.”  Animals need care too!  CPR and First Aide training are the mainstays for the “boots on the ground” volunteers.

Nothing sets off a victim more than the media. Media Matters as told by long time CUE supporter, South Carolina Outreach Coordinator, Brian McQueen. As News Director for the NBC affiliate in Columbia, you will find no one more dedicated and concerned with accuracy and compelling coverage of missing persons families. He’s a true soldier in the fight for awareness!

“The Heart: The Victim’s Hour Presentations”

Listening to and relating our true life ordeals and experiences with violent crime and missing persons is the most difficult and heart wrenching aspect of the CUE Center Conference. Sometimes intimidated by the microphone, victims are gripped with emotion, trying to organize their thoughts, often through their tears conveying the circumstances and how very much their loved one is missed. They speak of personal qualities; special moments shared and lost opportunities for the future. This act is repeated informally over and over throughout the Conference. It is the “lifeblood” of the CUE- this give and take of educating and healing.  And, in the telling the first time, I believe families are set on the path of survivorship.   This year’s family representatives spoke of missing loved ones: Bonnie Santiago, Janet “Renee” Field, Jason Bolton and Christopher Douthat.

A special source of pride for me was the fact that five Connecticut based detectives were in attendance at this conference from New Haven’s Cold Case Unit and the Town of West Haven (where the University of New Haven and the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science is located.) I was nervous in the beginning, for new people often feel like a “fish out of water.”  I did what I could to facilitate and then others took over to have conversations in various and sundry places and late into the night. One such conversation I participated in with Monica and “the Connecticut Five.”  Monica was at her best, full of information, and engaging all of us well into the wee hours.  Four hours of sleep that night, but it was so worth it. Monica and her team paved the way to truly understanding the families’ plight for these detectives by the end of the Conference. I was so proud!

It is in these late night discussions that ideas about cases and future collaborations are forged. This is the true magic that occurs without much effort for everyone gives freely from the heart. Nothing else matters!

What Victims Really Want

Monica spoke from the heart at the State Outreach Coordinators’ orientation and at the start of Sunday’s wrap-up. Her sage advice resonated with those who know, who have been part of the fabric of the CUE, adding their family stories to the thousands of families served in 20 plus years. Her ability to always be sensitive to families needs first and foremost and recall the most salient facts when illustrating a point is nothing short of amazing. As an audience, what we take away is of greatest importance. Each uses a “personal yardstick” to measure success. I was struck by her presentation recounting “fact or fiction” in the missing persons world.  Better to debunk the myths than to assume we always know the facts and understand every nuance.

What Families Can Do After the Tent has Folded and the Circus has Left Town was a skillful metaphor used to demonstrate that families need to be very much part of the equation.  We cannot wallow in grief. We must go to work, for with hard work, healing comes. Taking initiative with the assistance of others, building community is empowering. On this journey,   we will not only survive, but thrive and blossom!  I have seen it a thousand times! It is in this context that we set the building blocks for a future resolution with “person power” and faith in God.

The National Candlelight Service

Families honored at the National Candlelight Vigil

Families honored at the National Candlelight Vigil

The procession began with several busses proceeding along the approximately eight mile route with a full police escort, sirens blazing, stopping traffic along the route to the site of the service! This ceremonial gesture, I believe, was a first, and testament to the respect that law enforcement holds for Monica Caison and the CUE Center.   It certainly was a prideful moment for all of us who witnessed it!  The magic of the WWII USS North Carolina Battleship on the brisk ,but tolerably cool night,  against the backdrop of the Cape Fear River in Downtown Wilmington was the scene of the  moving tribute to persons gone missing.  Loved ones were in attendance to represent them, as well as civilian and law enforcement advocates. It was time to award the many who have contributed and those who have passed.  The beautiful color photo memorial wall featuring several dozen victims was unveiled and shone against the lights and hearts of all who participated.   Two musical tributes by Heather Cohen were breathtaking. We also appreciated the talent, wit and “peppering humor” of MC, local TV personality, Sandra McClammy and the inspirational words of Reverend Angie Davis.   Special honorees this year included the families for Gerald Graham, Angie Pipkin and Alysha Tucker.  Two Musical Tributes by Heather Cohen and the inspirational Reverend Angie Davis.

The Heart From My Perspective

Families of those who go missing, or are survivors of homicide, no matter how it occurs, do not want “closure.” This term is a misnomer so frequently used by law enforcement, the media and the legal profession.  Closure is not possible. We have wounded hearts that will forever be damaged. Closure implies that there is a timeline sequence – a beginning, middle and end to grief and pain. An end is a final act. Concerning missing persons in particular, your psyche is perpetually in a “state of suspended animation” if you will – waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next tip to come in or waiting for a person to “grow a conscience.” It is never ending! It is torture! You can see it in their faces, you can hear it in their voices. The term “resolution” is more appropriate as it is more accurate and describes what is happening similar to “chapters of your life.”  The event (i.e. My father’s homicide) will never go away totally for me, although it may fade. BUT, I have successfully made it through many chapters. Each chapter leads to the next. We can never “close the book totally,” but we can achieve a resolution at the stage we are in.

To distill it to its core, when dealing with the uninformed general public, and the media who deals in sound bites, victims need a sense of purpose in their journey versus the ill-conceived “closure.”  A sense of closure means something to do that is productive which contributes to the overall effort of finding their loved one. They cannot sit idly by. Sometimes there is a fine line between “helping/doing what comes natural” and “interfering “with the investigation.  Therefore, the case manager and the police must assess the situation and assign the family a task(s) that will help and at the same time empower them. Such tasks might be small in the overall scheme, but vital just the same. Examples: Gathering photos, constructing a timeline of the last days as they recall their loved one’s activities. If there is a search, purchasing food and water for teams etc.

The Passage Award in Memory of Susan Murphy Milano

Marshia Morton receives the Passage Award

Marshia Morton receives the Passage Award

This award is given to an individual, who has suffered the loss of a loved one by being a missing person, victim of homicide or one that has survived the cruelties from intimate partner violence. This award recognizes the survivor that has healed and who has risen above to contribute oneself to those who remain in need of guidance, empowerment, support and who continually hold a devotion to the cause in memory of Susan Murphy Milano.

This year’s recipient of the Passage Award – Marshia Morton – an excellent choice, who quietly assists in several capacities for the CUE and is a Missouri State Outreach Coordinator.

Another person who is beloved to the CUE organization for being a tireless advocate, as well as the father of a missing daughter, was Robert Cooke, of Georgetown Texas.  Until his death in November, 2014, he had the distinction of participating in every CUE Center Conference since its inception.  He was a special friend and supporter to Monica who is missed every day.  Tragically, his daughter, Rachel Cooke vanished while jogging in 2002 while visiting her parents. She remains missing.

A memorial scholarship for a fee paid conference was set up in his name and was awarded to Gail Soles, the mother of missing Crystal Gail Soles.

Finally, there were so many acts of random kindness from helping, listening , giving, sharing ,awarding expensive goods won (such as a guitar) and hugs throughout!

It humbled me to share my room with family members of one of the vigil honorees. The story of the loss of her daughter, Elisha Tucker is tragic, and only one of many which has befallen the family .

I thank those who assisted me especially Rachael Caison, Delilah Jones, Jerry Sigmon, and Sheryl McCollum for your special assistance and kindnesses. Let’s make it a great year filled with hope for families of the missing!

Donate to the Cue Center for Missing Persons  

CUE Center for Missing Persons

Across the Miles…. A Father’s Quiet Desperation Evolves into a Hunt for Justice Like No Other


Lubbock Texas- Nick named the “Hub City,” due to its reputation as the economic, education, and health care hub of that region of the state. Lubbock is the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world…. The Lubbock Police Department was shaped by Chief J.T. Alley (1923–2009), who served from 1957–1983, the third-longest tenure in state history. Under Chief Alley, the department acquired its first Juvenile Division, K-9 Corps, Rape Crisis Center, and Special Weapons and Tactics teams.

It was also against this backdrop just eight years later… in May 1991, that an affable young man, at age 24, always popular with the young ladies, seemingly was outmatched by a sociopathic hanger-on girlfriend that he could not shed in favor of his true love.

Descriptions such as callous; unemotional; lacking empathy; aggressive; impulsive; acting without any regard for the welfare of others have been used to describe psychopathy…However, new research suggests that female psychopaths differ in the expression of deceitful, manipulative, and exploitive personality traits. They are more likely to express these personality deficits through behaviors typically with extreme fear of abandonment; outbursts of rage over real or imagined transgressions, they switch between seeing their significant other as either completely perfect or totally evil or become women who must constantly be the center of attention.  They may be misdiagnosed as having mental illness.  Such a female…. perhaps Leisha Gwen Hamilton…. [The murderer of Roger “Scott” Dunn] may be just as incapable of true empathy, and just as manipulative and deceitful, as the psychopathic callous, unemotional male. [Published on May 2, 2012 by Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D. in The Human Equation].  Such a woman, who upon first meeting Scott’s Dunn’s father, was more concerned with acquiring Scott’s car (holding the keys in her hand) than finding him… and THAT was just one layer of the onion…..with 21 more years worth of layers to come….


“Shattered Lives”  travelled the path with Jim Dunn, as he recounted his fight for justice with many revelations along the way



  • Crime tips across the miles…South Carolina, Connecticut.  ***Email your tips  anytime to feature on the air at:;
  • Introduction to our guest; Murder of a son…
  • What it takes to be a survivor to continue to pursue justice all the many years…the road not taken…;
  • The circumstances of the crime….. All of a sudden we don’t hear from our son….….A strange woman calls….
  • “Why are you calling me at work? “(Leisha)  The story continues… a piece of carpet tells the story….;
  • Richard Walter, psychologist’s comment  on  psychopaths;
  • A bright technically oriented kid, who had “too many girlfriends;”
  • Twenty-one years to the date that he was murdered…. The remains were found in May 2012;
  • Filling in the gaps…. The law enforcement response initially- Across the miles  from Philadelphia to Lubbock ,Texas;
  • A father’s demeanor to “take care of business” just  like a business meeting;
  • The dinner with Leisha-   a plot to play one man against the other – in jealousy;
  • “Scott just left.”  I want his car…..”
  • Under surveillance…. Ready to jump on the case….
  • 300-400 phone calls in one year- June 1992- Meeting Richard Walter…from the Vidocq Society;
  • “You don’t have a body…. You don’t have a case;”
  • Duct tape and hair fibers …. A telltale sign;
  • Tim Smith and former criminal records discovered by Jim;
  • A TV show that made the difference…..;
  • Richard Walter comes in from Scotland Yard…. “I’ll let the phone ring five times”
  • Texas Law tells the story – a body, a confession or part of a body;
  • The trials of Leisha Hamilton and Tim Smith….
  • A suspended sentence – Why??
  • Discussion of a probated sentence;
  • A victim’s advocate….Pam Alexander  “a God’s send;”
  • His wife Barbara and her needs…. I’ll leave you…”
  • Scott’s biological Mom….
  • An unexpected event – finding the body….  Repair men on Pipelines;
  • Meeting Wanda Evans and the evolution of “Trail of Blood”
  • My purpose was to find Scott and give credit to the Vidocq Society;
  • Competing books…..  “The Murder Room”
  • Jim’s “Trail of Blood”;
  • Contact Information:;



Questions, Questions, Questions;

  • The parole board -What is the status of the murderer when does the perpetrator get out?
  • What was the crux of the altercation that led to the murder?
  • How long did it take to secure a conviction?
  • What was Jim’s charge by the police in order to find out more information from the perpetrator(s)”?
  • What were the evidence and the results of the DNA?
  • What were Jim’s efforts after Scott’s blood was identified?
  • Who ultimately responded to Jim’s outreach efforts?
  • What was the Texas law enforcement’s theory of the case?
  • Who was Bill Fleisher, William Fleisher, V.S.M. and what was his significance to the case?
  • How was it that the case came to trial with “no body”?
  • What was the involvement of Scotland Yard?
  • What happened with the Grand jury?
  • What part of Texas law allows for a suspended sentence-“probated sentence”?
  • What was the condition of Scott’s body when located?
  • A letter from prison… What’s going on?


The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.


It is Impossible Not to Miss Someone Who Was Once a Part of Your Life… Monica Caison and CUE Center for Missing Persons

CUE Center for Missing Persons,Monica Caison,National Conference

 “Sometimes we are only given a few minutes to be with the one we love, and a thousand hours to spend just thinking about them”  Victoria Morgan.

Monica Caison,Cue Center for Missing Persons

The above quotes tell the story… and have a quality of truth that is inescapable for families with loved ones who go missing.  Monica Caison, Founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons in Wilmington, North Carolina, is the keeper of the flame and the tireless organizer- searcher for the forgotten… a mission carried forth since 1994. Monica goes about her job systematically. She‘s built a reputation, the respect of law enforcement and service providers. She has an army of resources atthe ready to assist… but can always use more dedicated people.  Volunteers are the “lifeblood” of this amazing organization…  Ladyjustice and Delilah spent a fun-filled, informational hour discussing how far the CUE Center has come to date…..and the details of the upcoming 9th Annual Conference –Thursday, March 21st through Sunday March 24th, 2013.  (See Questions to be answered below!)

To listen to the Podcast: CLICK HERE

  • Introduction to our guest;
  • History of the CUE Center and what makes it unique – A liaison between law enforcement and the community; Primary focus- Their stellar search efforts…
  • How it works… Starting with a goal list… and coordinated professionally trained  searches;
  • Billboards, rewards, posters, networking….anything and everything;
  • The long view: What has changed since 1994?
  • The Peggy Carr Case- a benchmark National Case
  • The Give Campaign and CUE Voted the Top Rated Non-Profit of 2012…
  • The benefits of attending for the first time…no matter how you are affiliated;
  • GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING …Face to Face……. Very Important!!
  • Advocacy and Victim Empowerment- Giving Back…
  • A touching letter – getting out of your comfort zone;
  • An Overview of the Conference;
  • A larger venue; a larger hotel on the ocean….
  • Trainings, food, fun night…   The Ocean Shore Special Event;
  • National Candlelight service  and unveiling “The Wall”
  • Roundtable Discussions and Networking for help with missing persons cases;
  • Sponsors, theme baskets, Door Prizes
  • “The Big Chance to Win” in Memory of a former missing person;
  • Deciding on next year’s Conference…the process;
  • A no fee Conference…
  • Family donors and Fundraising…
  • One Day Search for the CUE versus a Government Operated Search;
  • Delilah’s role in helping with Recruiting Presenters…The Line-Up;
  • Bridget Daly Musteata- La\w Enforcement- Victim Advocate for the Police Department – Duncan South Carolina – Legal Rights Before &After;   Forensic Interview- an in depth-interview and the needs of the family in the aftermath;
  • Teams, Rotations and General Assembly;
  • “Dr. Dolly” Dalal Akoury- Talking about how to reduce the stress of trauma
  • Monica’s Sanctuary to inner peace…
  • Marilyn Gambrell – Amazing Advocate working with teens of incarcerated parents;
  • Monica – a tutorial on Sonar – with Expert Chuck Elgin;
  • Delilah & Monica on the importance of timeliness in getting to Monica and knowing what to do- A MASTER PLAN;
  • “There’s no place to search…”
  • Monica’s State Coordinator Program –Why it’s needed;What they do….
  • On a path to increased growth…   Her database… and the rewards…
  • Contact Information -. Donations:;/
  • Registration and general information;


Questions to be answered:

  • Are billboards always needed and the most effective method why or why not?
  • Awareness campaigns and a public presence
  • Why should new people attend?
  • How did Monica’s dream come about?
  • What is a True Founder versus a True Advocate?
  • What are the themes of this year’s conference?
  • What is the special memorial for Susan Murphy- Milano?
  • What are the extras, gifts and fundraising?
  • What’s involved in the expense planning process for a search?
  • What are the difference sin sonar used as it relates to a particular case?
  • What is the waiting period with law enforcement once a person goes mIssing?
  • What are the requirements to be a State Coordinator?


CUE candlelight vigil

For a full list of speakers and detailed information about the

National Conference:  click here

NOTICE: (This conference is a pre – registration conference ONLY) please contact the center for details, thank you.

Download and print registration form below

Submit Registration: Mailing Address (CUE) PO Box 12714 Wilmington, NC 28405
Ph: (910) 343-1131 or (910) 232-1687 Fax: (910) 399-6137
Location: Courtyard Marriott Hotel

2013 Conference Registration. Click Here to Download and Print (1843)

Note: Do not contact the hotel to register, the CUE Center for Missing Persons is responsible for submission of the rooming list and providing airport travel arrangements of all conference attendees.