I am a fine person in my own right with talents, and skills and hope for the future!
I am a person of every, race, creed, color, age, gender and ethnicity or circumstance.
I may have veered off the most direct or safest path…or someone else may have taken control such that my future is not what I wanted it to be.
However, I know that I am valued and loved and deserve the dignity of a rich and full life without judgment passed by others.
I am a missing person from this our state, or one of the 49 other states.
I am someone’s child.
Donna R. Gore “LadyJustice”
I am happy to be embraced by the Cue Center for Missing Persons, for I know they will assist my family and law enforcement with every resource available.
Thank you for coming to hear my story.
There are many things that will be said about this year’s 2014 CUE Center for Missing Persons On the Road to Remember Tour. However, I tend to gravitate to special moments capturing humanity.
Why I was selected to be a potential tour stop, I do not know, I do remember the captivating description at the microphone offered by Monica about this tour and her heartache when particular locations have to be denied; among thousands of missing adults across this country, why families would have to clamor for attention is beyond all understanding.
Why media does not expand their definition of “breaking news” to include our ever-expanding list of “broken hearts for the missing” in Connecticut, even when there is no car crash, new murder, or other story of import to cover, I do not understand. (A New Haven Police photographer and a New Haven Register photographer were the exceptions- THANK YOU!)
Although the planning of this event began many months ago with many starts and stops along the way, this “perpetual plan ahead Coordinator” learned that an event could look like a choreographed ballet- complete with butterflies, ribbons, and balloons in a short time.
Life is about timing and in the end, the stately Connecticut State Police Museum and Education Center was the perfect venue and backdrop for our hosting. On May 29, 1903, Governor Abiram Chamberlain signed House Bill #247 which authorized the creation of the Connecticut State Police, the first of its kind in the country.
As I parked my car about 8:30 a.m. waiting for everyone else to arrive in the presence of the morning dew and brilliant sunshine, I wondered what this would turn out to be. Would the families come? Would law enforcement come? Would the media come? Would we be ready when Monica and her staff arrived? Not to worry! Not easy for a person who wants such things to be “near perfect.”
The detectives of the Connecticut State Police, particularly, Tonya Campagnone and her team, and Sergeant Elisa Tuozzoli and colleagues, Ann Mays and Jessica Agosto of the New Haven Missing Persons Unit, soon arrived to assist in unpacking my cram-filled car. A stress fracture did not keep this Coordinator down in the least! In fact, I couldn’t recall feeling pain-maybe because I was focusing on other people’s pain. What a great healing method!
Where to put things? Better here, or over there? Do we have enough tables? Food and drink generously donated by New Haven restaurants and real bathroom facilities, were relative luxuries on this grueling journey.
NamUS posters told the story before the families arrived. Their photos haunted me. I wondered what was their back story of which few spoke.
Families represented at event:
- Evelyn Frisco– Missing since June 2004; New Haven, Contact New Haven Police- 203-946-6316- 5’2” Family present at event;
- Jose Ortiz, Missing since December 2005- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police 203-946-6316; Family present at event;
- Jerry Dolphin– 20 years old; Missing since October 1994- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police; Family present at event;
- William Paul Smolinski, Jr – Missing since August 2004-Waterbury; Contact New Haven CT FBI 203-777-6311, Case # 62D-NH-44785; NamUS MP # 43;
- Lisa Calvo– 40 years old; Missing since October 2005; Height-4’11” Contact New Haven Police; Family present at event;
- Bernadine Paul – 38 years old; Hispanic; Missing since June 2000; Contact Waterbury Police -203-574-6941; Case # 00-45074; NamUS MP # 392; ;
- Ande Fan– Asian Male 5’4” Missing since August 2004- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police;
- Marquita Jones – Missing since Summer of 2011- Hill area of New Haven; Contact New Haven Police; 5’ 2” Nicknames – “Keighia,” “Kecia,” “Luv.” Quita Luv
- Mary E. Badaracco– 53 years old, Missing since August 1984; Sherman, CT; Contact your local law enforcement Case # A84277483; NamUS MP # 303; Family came after event; $50,000 Reward for more information;
- Janice K. Pocket– 7 years old, Missing since July 1973- Tolland, CT ; Contact CT State Police 860-779-4940; Case # 000000014; NamUS # 2555;
- Debra Lee Speckler– Missing since July 1968-Vernon CT: Contact Vernon Police Department – 860-872-9126 ext. 289; Case # C-3710-68-J; NamUS MP # 5426;
- Lisa Joy White – Missing since November 1974-Vernon, CT; Contact Vernon Police Department – 860-872-9126 ext. 289; Case # 000000019; NamUS MP # 2559
- Alyssiah Wiley– 20 years old; Previously Missing—in Bridgeport Remains located in Trumbull, CT in May 2013; Mother Corrinna Martin attended event.
New families were especially forthcoming while speaking both publically and one on one. Corrinna spoke of “establishing an intimate relationship of cooperation with their law enforcement”; hopes to locate daughter Evelyn Frisco, long missing, before her mother, Janet dies.
Others spoke of the evils of drugs, how Jerry Dolphin was on the threshold of new ventures and how this event tearfully opened wounds; the quest to find Billy Smolinski and the importance of NamUS legislation.
Retired State Police officer Jerry Longo was visibly moved and couldn’t take his eyes off of former 7-year-old Janice Pocket’s poster- missing while looking for butterflies. He stated soberly to me, “I remember her. I worked this case.”
A wonderful give and take was noted between families, law enforcement and Cue Members. A make shift “Memory wall” was set up along the ancient 1920 brick edifice behind the Museum, consisting of quilted swatches of missing persons around the country as well as the vivid CUE Road Tour color collage with all of the faces of the missing emblazoned on the poster just waiting for Monica and hope to arrive at their stop!
The visuals were quite powerful; a custom-made multicolored ribbon and butterfly tree, yellow butterfly badges for families to wear and yellow balloons that went careering into the heavens to join others.
As a new Coordinator, I marveled at the way CUE Center Founder, Monica Caison, was able to instantly engage new families and provide comfort. I tried to keep my distance when I saw this happen. I too was able to do the same with guests and as a veteran homicide survivor. It made me feel so good!
My one regret was that I was unable to get a photo with Monica. There was no time to talk or bond with a new Coordinator, unfortunately. We did tour the Museum together for a few minutes in which she enthusiastically took photos and interacted with staff.
An honorable mention must be given for her dedicated staff of volunteers who helped navigate. They make it all come together with good humor considering their many duties, fatigue,“ and the road ahead.” Elisa, David and Janeanne were gracious, as was Harlan Chavis who parted by saying, “See ya’ at the Conference.”
No story would be complete without a postscript or two:
As I was just about to depart, Beth Profeta, daughter of missing Mary Badaracco, rolled down her car window and announced, “She was here for the event.” I identified myself, (as I had not seen her in a few years). She was frazzled, mad and disappointed that she had “gone off course and gotten lost.” We spent the next hour or so talking at the end of the Complex’s driveway, staged a few photos on her car hood and up against “a mighty oak tree” of dear mother, Mary Badaracco.
Cars were whizzing up the driveway to other buildings except for a distinguished looking gentleman approaching, proudly wearing a CT State Police cap and riding an adult three-wheeled tricycle. He introduced himself, struck up a conversation with us, said he lived up the hill and this was part of his “stomping grounds.” I can’t recall his name, but he did proudly share with us that he was 99 years old and rode his bike on the grounds daily!
AMEN! The perfect ending to a perfect day!