It Is Not the End When A Missing Person is Found; It’s Only One Chapter

 

“It’s been hard. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s a struggle every day. But, we won’t stop until we have justice for him.”  

(George McLaurin Davis, Randy’s father)

 

When a person goes missing, events don’t occur in nice, neat stages. Just as Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s well-known five stages of grief, it is not a stair-step progression concerning the emotions of those who experience the loss of a missing person: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Loretta Davis, mother of Randy Davis has experienced all of these, before and after Randy went missing on January 21, 2016.  

Randy was described as a kindhearted man who would do anything for a person in need.  He was in a high school “Boot Camp” and earned his GED.  However, as often happens, young people don’t always make the best decisions concerning which friends to associate with, or who has their best interests at heart (besides their Mama). Along the way, he met Dakota Deal and had two children of his own named Bryson (now 6) and Addison (now 4).

But, the defining force that pulled him off the straight and narrow path of life was the introduction to drugs, escalating to the hardest substances from which it is nearly impossible to rid oneself.  It was a roller coaster ride of drug use, treatment, and relapse. As would be expected, Randy’s mother did everything possible to try to assist in keeping the demons at bay.  But no matter what was done, no matter how many resources or money one has at their disposal, sometimes the demons win no matter what, because of the cravings the motivation is so strong. Still, Randy always kept in contact with family.

On the positive side, we must stress that Randy had aspirations for a better life. He loved his children. He had a natural talent for art, particularly drawing. Randy wanted to go to art school. His family treasures many examples of his talents. Sadly, we can only speculate how his life might have unfolded, if given the right circumstances.

On May 10th, 2017 the Horry County Police, with the assistance of staff from the Cue Center for Missing Persons, located the remains of this  26-year-old young man, in a heavily wooded area on Horse Bay Road in Aynor, South Carolina.

The messages the Davis family wants to convey are many.  Loretta wants the world to know that her son’s life mattered, regardless of his struggles. The Davis’ are highly motivated to keep this young male’s case in the forefront such that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. And, they want the masses to know that the journey is only half completed. As I write this, I think of the courage and inner strength of a mother who needed the finality of viewing photos of her son at the police station.  It was a task no one should ever have to face. On that day,  after the viewing, she rode her bike to relieve the stress and pain, if only for a  short time.  

Loretta is now thinking of a fitting way to honor Randy’s memory, to build a legacy.  Will it be planting a tree, doing presentations to young people in her local schools, an art exhibit, an annual fundraiser, a video combining his art and strong messages regarding the importance of positive peer relationships and the evils of substance abuse? They will find their path as a family.

Thoughts and Thank You from Members of the Davis Family

“It’s been very hard having my brother missing for over a year and four months. Knowing that we had to bury my brother at age 26, created a huge impact upon my life.” (Randy’s youngest  sister, Ashley, age 19.)

Randy’s Aunt Janice always felt in her heart from the day Randy disappeared, that he had gone to pursue another Rehabilitation Program in order to get his life on track. She believed this until the day his remains were found. It was her hope, her solace, her self-protection. The reality was devastating.

“We praise Monica Caison and the entire Cue Center team for all of their hard work and dedication on behalf of our son, Randy. We also appreciate them taking the time away from their lives to search for Randy. We love y’all.

To Lt. Peter Cestare and Detective Dudley of the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, Horry County Police Department- South Carolina:

“We want to thank them for their long hours and days of constant work on our case. The progress we have achieved to date would not have been possible if they didn’t believe in us. We are forever grateful. There are no words to say how much your efforts mean to us.”

When Loretta’s daily strength weakens, she can ride her bike, looking to the heavens and say a prayer for her son, Randy, gone too soon!

 For any Information Concerning the Randy Davis Case-

Contact the Horry County Police Department at (843) 915-5350 or the CUE Center for Missing Persons at (910) 232-1687; (910) 343-1131 or the 24 hour tip line (910) 232-1687.

Profile of Randy Davis case at CUE Center for Missing Persons: http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=randy+Davis

References- http://www.amhc.org/58-grief-bereavement-issues/article/8444-stage-of-grief-models-kubler-ross

http://wpde.com/news/local/mayor-john-rhodes-myrtle-beach-is-not-a-city-of-violence

http://www.wnem.com/story/35443539/coroner-confirms-remains-found-were-those-of-aynor-man-missing-since-2016


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Multiple Victimizations: Gender Bias, Missing Persons and Fake News

Yellow ribbons for missing persons

Yellow ribbons for missing persons

Back in the day, I thought seriously about a career in journalism, as the passion was stirred at a very early age. However, I now see that I have the best of both worlds in 2017, with other careers and still investing heavily in the written word. I am a better person for having chosen different paths, for when we examine the current journalistic landscape, at times, it is appalling!

I look for the always credible, the sure-footed people in this crazy world of news who can navigate the minefields and come out unscathed, and always ring true. The real question is where do we draw the line? Or, has the line moved so far afield it feels nonexistent? Exactly!

Do we spend our limited energy daily on separating hype from rumor from fact?  No, we often run it through our personal common sense filter and then do further research if it is of real interest. The rest is often just nonsense. However, we do live in an age where the unbelievable with respect to apparent disintegrating moral values makes virtually anything possible.

All that aside, we have to maintain a personal sense of right and wrong, even if it may have shifted a bit in terms of societal standards. Some look for others to blame; the desperate Democrats, the raucous Republicans, the intolerable President, the manipulative media.

I am of the belief it really doesn’t matter where the blame lies as they all feed into each other like sharks looking for their next meal.  Enter fake news. When did the biggies of journalism, politicians, the uninformed and sad individuals seeking attention become so desperate for the status quo that they felt it necessary to make up news in one-upmanship?

What is vital is the aftermath, the collateral damage done to persons who do not have a dog in the fight and are dragged in any way. Victims of violent crime whether it be a homicide, missing persons, rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, etc. are already compromised in terms of coping with their day-to-day existence due to grief, loss, intolerable pain and lack of will to withstand the fight.

The general public sees our society becoming ever violent and does not want to join the victimization club, ever! Those of us who have graduated from victimization and are squarely in the survivor camp can help others to maintain hope, and assist in educating and creating awareness for others.

Another strike against victims are the flagrant biases that the media and some law enforcement and judicial agencies perpetuate.  Children are rightfully seen as the most vulnerable and all important when it comes to crime. However, the unspoken message is that Caucasians still get first class treatment compared to any minority in any context.  Within such classifications, the public often makes value judgments concerning people, and particular lifestyles.

Assumptions are so ingrained that it’s difficult to garner attention to the fact that, for example, young men are not all irresponsible, macho, beer guzzling creatures who walk off into the night, abandoning all responsibilities and family ties. And yet, this is told to us by the police, by people who don’t really know.

As sure as our parents told us that only girls are supposed to play with dolls, this is true. This is the barometer that some people use. Boys to men fend for themselves, always.  They don’t go missing, get kidnapped or are forced to do things against their will because they are males. This is simply an untrue and unfair portrayal at a time when families need all of the credible resources they can gather just to keep their loved one in the forefront of media, competing with all the rest.

When this fallacy about how young males don’t go missing continues, to have fake news intruded upon them is unconscionable. Such was the case with the family of Damien Sharp recently.

A fake news organization article was recently posted on Facebook concerning his case with no direct contact information to law enforcement nor accurate information regarding its content. Imagine the horror when Damien’s family discovered this very hurtful, potentially damaging innuendo. Not only is this family approaching their 15th anniversary of Damien’s disappearance  (May 25, 2002) and potential homicide while operating within the reality of gender bias, they have to deal with a fake news posting as well. This truly is cruel and unusual punishment for a family who needs resolution and peace of mind.

The number of missing persons at any one time in the U.S. (2017) according to Silvia Pettem researcher and author, is 100,000.

We don’t need to venture far to illustrate this point further, for an estimate of the number of missing persons cases posted on the CUE Center for Missing Persons website. The number of young males below 30 or young male children initially posted having reached young adulthood over the years is significant.

We have to do everything in our power to give families with male members equal time in the realm of crime reporting and media attention. We have to resist gender bias and believe the information given by families and not rely on well-worn stereotypes that serve no purpose.  Toward that end, as a crime victim Advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show.

Toward that end, as a crime victim advocate, I can try to do my part by featuring Damien’s case as one of gender bias in the media on my radio show. Stay tuned for this important podcast for Shattered Lives Radio in June!

 And …Stay away from fake news- Trust your head and your heart. LJ


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Looking Past the Word “Missing:” 2017 National Missing Persons Conference

Luke 2:7 says about Mary giving birth to Jesus, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (New King James Version).

Such is the case with many missing persons. There is no room at the inn, figuratively or literally.

People on the fringes of life didn’t ask to be there. They came into this world, supposedly with an equal chance, until the forces of life were thrust upon them. In past generations, it was doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief as the saying goes. Today, our youth aspire to the tech world, financial services, and emergency services. But what if the world has not prepared you to function properly, despite your dreams? What happens in the aftermath?

We become the casualties of circumstances, as CUE Center for Missing Persons Founder, Monica Caison so aptly observes.  In 2017, there are so many challenges in life. The pace of life, the stress, the expectations are grueling. For those who do not have the wherewithal, the resources, the education, or the support of family and friends, they are destined to get lost in the black hole of existence. What might befall them is the daily reality of what makes the CUE Center for Missing Persons tick.

There are categories of those who go missing; those whose life ends by homicide, those afflicted with mental illness, those who are homeless, those who are kicked out of the house because of their sexual orientation, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, those who are homeless. One example is veterans, the elderly, and those with chronic medical issues.

Some of the realities include families are often ill-equipped to help once a missing person with a “casualty of life problem” arises.  Such victims begin the path of no return and become part of the escalating missing person pool.  Government assistance is hopelessly bureaucratic with access very difficult.  People are poor, live in rural areas and they do not know what to do, nor how to access information. Often they are embarrassed to ask for assistance. Many people are prideful and decide to fend for themselves. However, when we examine these realities, many are excuses.  Families want the problem to just go away and put forth a minimum of effort. Homeless shelters warehouse people for a few hours and provide band-aid measures like a meal. Counselors expect homicide survivors to heal in six sessions because that’s all that insurance will cover. Men are literally left out in the cold, even when they choose to seek shelter, as women with children are seen as the priority. The list goes on and on.

Embracing Dignity and Courage

These were the lasting impressions as we ended the final morning session of the 2017 CUE Center for Missing Persons Annual Conference, “Embracing Dignity and Courage.”   There were multiple examples of this theme permeating the Conference.

The CUE Center proves dignity and a safe haven for families who are left to their own devices without direction or hope. We NEVER make false promises that their loved one will definitely be located.  However, they are educated and given the tools to carry on in a family centered, the non-profit organization whose skills, dedication and longevity are unmatched.

Victims become survivors and advocates in the long haul nature in the missing persons arena. Without even realizing, there is power in belonging to a club in which no one wants membership. It may take a few months or a year or more. Such families move through their grief and take on the task of guiding others emotionally, providing a lifeline to new members when they are emotionally ready.

No contribution is too small or goes unnoticed in the collective sense. The commitment runs the gamut from tracking calls, to creating vivid informational posters for all to see, to performing case management, holding fundraising events, doing promotion, public relations, conference planning, coordinating ground searches, gathering search and rescue resources and equipment, collaborating with local law enforcement, training police departments and school children alike about aspects of missing persons, recruiting State Outreach Coordinators across the country and countless other functions, matching talent with tasks.

The Victims Hour

You can hear a pin drop.  Selected family members are invited to courageously tell their story of their loved one’s disappearance in order to provide a sense of release, camaraderie and to illustrate that the club has many members and they too share the need for a lifeline and a means to just keep afloat.

Peggy Carr’s case was the first one that gave national notice to the CUE Center. Mother Penny Britton gave a moving portrayal of their story so many years ago and the legacy built since 1988  http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Peggy+Carr

Monica Button, the mother of Nieko Lisi who went missing in Addison, New York in September 2011, gave the most heart wrenching, angry, grief-stricken, obsession driven account of her efforts for justice. Neiko, who by all accounts was a good son, but with imperfections, remains missing. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Nieko+Lisi

Cynthia Day’s recovered remains ended a 26-year wait for her family as a result of comparing cases. The discovery of a box of bones and a thumbprint that may yield a sense of resolution for the multi-generational family who appeared before the conferenced audience.   http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=cynthia+Day+

The National Candlelight Service

This is a take your breath away event combining spirituality, prayer, music, inspirational speeches, acknowledging award recipients, and families who are on the Wall of Remembrance. Hope is Everlasting!  This year, as in the past, the skies opened up adjacent to the Cape Fear River, mixed with tear drops. But the ever-resourceful staff literally picked up the ceremony and accouterments and we continued at the hotel.

How many people do you know who live in a town with a population of 106,500 (2016-17) who also have earned the respect of law enforcement and other community leaders that take the time to personally welcome us and provide an escort by the Sheriff’s Department?  Our escort included sirens blaring and cars race along the entire route to our Riverside Candlelight Vigil. It is a sight to behold! However, it demonstrates the pride and respect shown to Monica Caison, missing persons’ families and all those involved.

Presentations and Classes

Among the many impressive presentations, was the Norma Peterson’s Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit. The Document the Abuse program, addresses the needs of all intimate partner violence victims. My heart was filled with pride to note that Norma Peterson, the sister in law of Stacy Peterson, was now carrying the torch to benefit others in a much wider scope!  http://documenttheabuse.com

And yes, children are involved. They are our future to carry on the organization, and the mission of good works for missing persons, good works for all in their daily lives!

Monica CaisonQuote-

“Only in the Beat of the heart can a count be measured, similar to the step one takes in a search for the lost.” 

Donate to the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons-  (2016 Top Rated Great Non-Profit) http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/donate/

 


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

Missing for an Hour or for Years, the Personal Nightmare of LadyJustice

 

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When people try to wrap their heads around the very real circumstance of a man or woman gone missing, it seems so surreal!  But it is very real.  Whether missing for an hour or years, professionals in the non-profit arena take all reports seriously.

When I think back 35 years ago my Dad was also missing, but this aspect was never emphasized in the scheme of things. Although I don’t recall exactly, I estimate that for our family, the time he was unaccounted for was approximately from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day.   Although the police tried to construct a timeline, if they had delved deeper, I believe they would have discovered his identity sooner. What difference do a few hours make? A lot!

We knew his habits and what occurred prior to leaving home in the early evening hours. He owned an auto body business and also sold used cars. After dinner, he typically left to collect monies owed for cars purchased.  Previously, I had inherited the family car to commute to college. The car needed oil, so my Dad intended to get oil for the car that evening.  At the time, I had just earned my Master’s Degree in speech-language pathology and was to report to one of my jobs in Western Massachusetts for my new employer.  I never made it to work the following day.

Don Gore

My Dad went missing and never came home, nor did he call my mother if he expected to be very late or change his plans, as he had done in the past. Hours of worry and concern ensued for my mother. She contacted all the friends, contacts, and family she could think of who may know of his whereabouts. She called the hospitals, nothing.

BUT WAIT…. Intervening events would play a part in this awful scenario. Prior to his going missing, he was at a stoplight and apparently someone had the nerve to mug him for the contents of his wallet, including his driver’s license. Dad had not had a chance to replace his license.  However, his van had dealer plates and he was a well known business owner in the Greater Hartford area.  Ultimately, he was found in his van. Why hadn’t the Hartford Police followed up on this right away? Did the dealer plates go missing too? I’ll never know.

However, what occurred was a series of unconscionable “missteps” by the police. Somehow, before we even had a clue that my father was murdered, the local newspaper (under whose authority?) wrote a newspaper article about a missing person.

Among the many scenes of our homicide that are indelibly etched in my brain is this one –

We were in the living room that morning (Aril 17, 1981). My mother was very worried,  having spent a sleepless night.  I was dressed for work looking out the big picture window.  Mom sat in the rocker and was leafing through the newspaper. In the silence of the early morning, I heard my mother suddenly cry out words to the effect of “They’ve found him. It’s him.”

To our absolute horror, the newspaper heading stated “Unidentified Missing Man Found in Green Van.”  In our hearts, we knew it was my Dad. And then, the two of us summoned our strength to call the Hartford Police together. My mother recalled the detective putting his had over the receiver and in a muffled voice saying, “They’ve just identified him.” This was a chilling moment that no family deserves!  My mother called a close family member, a cousin, in order to provide support and drive us to the police station and the medical examiner’s office. I still did not believe it was true. The moment of truth for me was when someone at the police station walked past us carrying a plastic bag with my Dad’s coat which I recognized. That was a defining moment for me.

Imagine, if you can, learning that your loved one is murdered from a newspaper article with no warning whatsoever!

I could write volumes about the injustices we experienced as I recall the events today knowing what I know in 2017. Law enforcement tried, but they made many mistakes in the investigation, as well as in the judicial aspects for years to come, as the perpetrator never should have been eligible for parole!   Does it do any good to point fingers?  Would it have changed the outcome of the crime? No. I am grateful for their efforts in solving the case. However, I am not comfortable giving everyone involved a “pass” just because of the era in which it occurred, with the lack of resources for crime victims and lack of care versus overzealousness in convicting the murderer.

Perhaps the “saving grace” of our ordeal may be that we paved the way for future victims of crime to have a much better experience over time. That I can live with and it gives me solace.

As for the relatively short period of time in which my father was missing, although it was not prolonged, the events that occurred were horrendous, leaving scars for a lifetime. But, scars do heal. As a result, I have a tremendous amount of respect for all families of missing persons, whose ordeal typically goes on and on.

I will end with a most important message: If you experience a loved one or a good friend gone missing, time is of the essence!  In addition, if you desire expertise in assisting your local law enforcement, to begin the process, a missing persons report must be filed with police and then registered with the CUE Center for Missing Persons. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/file-a-report/.

CUE donations are appreciated, with all funds committed to the work of locating missing persons and supporting their families.

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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity. Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com