Who is a Missing Person? 

who is a missing person?

This question came across social media to me recently and the question had me thinking about all the permutations of “the missing.” Is there a true definition? Is there an official “Journal of the Missing”, published monthly and doled out to all library shelves at University libraries? A quick internet search revealed nothing.  This is a niche that few have studied in any depth with the exception of grass root non-profit organizations. They, in fact, are the experts with honed skills through “being in the trenches “and figuring out what truly is needed, how to assist the families of the missing, building collaborations with law enforcement and other organizations in order to do everything possible to effect a rescue versus a search for remains.  The CUE Center for Missing Persons stands out among such organizations.

At its core, how do we know someone is missing?

On a personal level, I believe that if someone cares for another person, has a personal tie to them, and that person has not been located in several hours, to days, months, years,  that is a “heart definition” of a missing person. Are there people who go missing intentionally? YES!  Are there people who go missing unintentionally by virtue of circumstances beyond their control? Yes! Should we judge as to if their gone missing status was preventable? NEVER, because one mis-step or series of bad decisions and we could be there is “a New York minute!

Legal Definition (According to US Legal.com) A missing person is a person 18 years old or older whose disappearance is possibly not voluntary, or a child whose whereabouts are unknown to the child’s legal custodian, the circumstances of whose absence indicate that:

  1. The child did not voluntarily leave the care and control of the custodian, and the taking of the child was not authorized by law; or
  2. The child voluntarily left the care and control of the child’s legal custodian without the custodian’s consent and without intent to return.
  3. State agencies work to coordinate reports of missing persons with federal agencies, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
  4. In states with an Amber Alert Plan, parents of a missing or abducted child can contact their local police or sheriff’s department to file a Missing Person Report. If a child is missing and believed to be in danger, there is no 24-hour waiting period.  The law enforcement agency will immediately enter information about the missing child into the Missing Person’s database and the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person File.

Participating law enforcement agencies can request an Amber Alert if their investigation determines that the child’s disappearance meets the Amber Alert criteria.

Types and Examples of Missing Persons:

Every missing person is somebody’s child…

Other Categories:

We also have men and women missing as a consequence of prostitution, “survival on the street” essentially often hiding in plain sight, fighting their demons, trying to survive.

Another huge category of the missing is attributed to Intimate Partner Violence. We need only to go to SusanMurphy-Milano.Com to see the thousands of examples she left for us!

And on and on….

Suffice it to say, the reasons for going missing are many and varied. If we care for humanity, our hearts are big enough to hold all of the reasons. It matters not why in the final analysis. It only matters that we find them and help them back to a “new normal.”

CUE Center for Missing PersonsIf you know of a missing person, please file a report with the police and then contact the CUE Center for Missing persons, a national non-profit organization.  To support their work: http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/donate/


Who is a Missing Person?



Crime Victimization & Victim Impact: Nuts & Bolts and Some “Intangibles”


Just keeping afloat in 2018, takes incredible fortitude and courage. Seemingly at every turn we see violence, sadness, corruption, natural disaster, loss of morality, indifference and a general dumbing down of standards that used to be impenetrable. When we have such forces as our backdrop for life, our yardstick, how do we possibly deal with our personal devastation in the aftermath of crime? How do we personally keep afloat and find a sense of hope? It is the hardest challenge we will ever face!

Who Does a Better Job?

Although we have made great strides with the infrastructure of victim advocacy over the years, the humanity, the compassion and support and the going the extra mile often lags behind when it comes to governmental services perpetually faced with financial cuts. In my opinion, it is the grass roots non-profit organizations who have figured out how to do more with less and make friends with community partners and survivors of crime who appear to be better equipped to provide the services most needed.

Nuts & Bolts of Victim Impact Statement:

During the sentencing phase of a trial or board of pardons and parole hearing, a crime victim is metaphorically standing at the crossroads of their forever after existence. That person hopefully has given much thought and has decided what is truly important to convey to the court or BPP officials individually, or collectively, with the assistance of a paid advocate or fellow survivor.  As the surviving victim, you should ask yourself before you even attempt to compose a statement, what should be my primary focus? What do I really want?

A review of possible options:

  • The emotional impact and devastation of my loss;
  • Financial  restitution;
  • Requesting a verbal or written apology from the offender;
  • Having the opportunity to add new  information to the formal record with the potential of altering the length and provisions of sentencing;
  • Using this forum for emotional release;
  • Describing the future legacy of your murdered loved one;
  • Educating judicial officials regarding your unique needs and nuances of the process which were previously overlooked but very important to you;
  • Expressing forgiveness to “a higher power” as a way of self-healing;

Other Considerations:

  • In the State of Connecticut when delivering your victim impact statement, you are not limited regarding the length of time, nor is the content edited in any way, according to our Board of Pardons and Parole website and personal experience.
  • In the State of South Carolina, a videotaped statement cannot exceed five minutes in the case of one victim, ten minutes for multiple victims.
  • (Be sure to check with your state as rules vary from state to state.)
  • Physical Environment – During a court sentencing, you will be facing the judge with the defendant behind you or to the right or left of you as you make your presentation.  Your statement is part of the official court record, or hearing.
  • Restitution and Compensation (From the National Center for Victims of Crime) Increasing the likelihood that restitution will be ordered:  Victims can do two things to increase the likelihood that restitution will be ordered in their case: gather information about their financial loss, and request that restitution be ordered.  To increase the chances that restitution will be ordered, victims should make sure their victim impact statement includes a summary of the out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime
  • The difference between restitution and compensation: While restitution is court-ordered payment from a convicted offender, crime victim compensation is a state government program that pays many of the out-of-pocket expenses of victims of violent crime even when there is no arrest or prosecution. Ordinarily, to be eligible for compensation the victim is required to report the offense within a certain amount of time, cooperate in the investigation and prosecution, and file an application within a set time. The expenses covered by compensation vary and are usually set by state law. All compensation programs cover medical expenses, most cover counseling, and very few cover any property loss.
  • In comparison, restitution can only be ordered in cases where someone has been convicted. However, restitution can be ordered in almost any case (although courts may be required to order it only for certain offenses), and can be ordered for a wider variety of losses, including property loss. A victim cannot collect both compensation and restitution for the same losses.
  • Technology- Videoconferencing is a concept that has existed since 1996. The clear leader in this area appears to be the State of Michigan. They began in 2004 with the Department of Corrections bringing the total of videoconferencing sites to 64, including five “telemed” sites. Imagine never having to leave prison grounds for prisoner –immigration hearings, dietician and mental health appointments! This is an up and coming industry of vast proportions.  MDs  can even use electronic stethoscopes to listen to heart and lungs and view x-rays instantly! Viola! This is all in the name of reducing costs and increasing efficiency!
  • Is there a line in the sand that needs to be drawn to say that victims of crime also need these innovative heath care services, particularly the elderly after having suffered their tremendous losses? Indeed!
  • “Intangibles”- meaning loss of productivity, medical care, mental health, use of public safety services, property loss, “tangible losses”, “quality of life” loss .  The problem is, the data available is so old – from the National Institute of Justice – January 1996, and can only be used as a general reference. Basically, 19 years ago…
  • Estimates of monetary values, including lost wages were in the range of $500,000 to $7 million;

What is Pain and Suffering and Quality of life really worth?

  • In 1996, violent crime was 3% of all medical spending and 14% of injury related spending and 10-20% of mental health expenditures in the U.S.
  • At that time, losses per incident of criminal victimization (including attempts) looked like this for fatal crimes including rape and murder-
  • Loss of productivity- $1,000,000;
  • Medical Care /Ambulance- $16,300;
  • Social-Victim Services- 0
  • Mental Health – $4,800;
  • Police & Fire Services – $1,300;
  • Property Loss/Damage – $120.00
  • Murder “Tangible Losses (Subtotal) “$1,030.000
  • “Intangible Quality of Life Losses” $1,910.00;
  • Total = $2,940.000

(Reference for above from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf)

Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service


One can assume that for today’s standards, the current cost of living and the escalation of spree and mass murder, these figures may be triple or more per incident. (In my humble opinion)

I do not put much faith in numbers, for they can always be manipulated to serve ones’ point of view, human error is rampant and they do not tell the whole story. I believe that an investment in people and their true life stories illuminate our understanding and pave the way for change far better than what a calculator reveals.

In some cases, the surviving victims may be too emotionally distraught, or may not have the ability to correctly express their feelings. A professional who has experience as a victim of crime, as well as assisting others through trials, can help you put your thoughts into a professionally written statement, and coach you on your delivery in court.

If you are anticipating the task of victim impact statement writing with trepidation, perhaps I can assist.



To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

The Honeymooners: Nostalgia is sometimes not so nice

When television was in its infancy in the 1950’s, a show never to be missed was The Honeymooners. I was a young child and recall the show to this day. However, in comparison to today’s sophistication and political correctness, I wonder how it achieved such popularity. Don’t say nostalgia, as if THAT can erase all past evil and chalk it up to, “It was an acceptable form of treatment between couples back then.” When we apply what we know about domestic violence and intimate partner violence today, we should be horrified, shocked and dismayed at the treatment of women in the 1950’s and the wife as slave and one to be abused,  as portrayed in this classic comedy which all family members laughed at and looked forward to each week!

Yes, I can take a joke about things that are truly funny. A review of many YouTube episodes of The Honeymooners revealed some funny stuff between Jackie Gleason and his sidekick, Art Carney. However, the married couple’s relationship can be viewed as questionable, and in some circles, abusive. My opinion is such shows give evil people evil ideas.

The character of Ralph Kramden is a know-it-all bus driver, who gets involved in one get rich quick scheme after another and who loves to dominate and bully his wife. In fact, it appears that his friendship with best friend Norton is far more intimate regarding personal closeness and compatibility than with his wife, Alice, the begrudging housewife who serves “the master.”

Alice Kramden is your typical ‘50’s housewife, BUT, she is no pushover. She frequently stands up to her husband’s verbal, physical and psychological abuse. Writers for Wikipedia attempt to explain away his bad behavior by saying, “Ralph is very short-tempered, frequently resorting to bellowing insults and hollow threats.” Hidden beneath the many layers of bluster, however, is “a soft-hearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best pal, Ed Norton.” How can we be so sure of this?  We have a very insecure male who is barely scraping by to provide a living for his wife who is not at all ambitious, with the exception of lifting a fork. His world revolves around bowling and he doesn’t appear to care about bettering his situation in real meaningful ways. And so, he finds fault with everyone else.

How often has the character of Alice been frustrated, angry, in tears or wanted to run away from her apartment prison? Although we may not have seen blatant physical abuse, there was plenty of physical gesturing/threats, pounding on or throwing inanimate objects, screaming and verbal threats.

Ralph’s mother in law constantly reminds him of his weight and that he is a bad provider to her daughter. The character of Alice apparently studied to be a secretary prior to marrying Ralph, and according to the storyline, she was one of 12 children with a father who never worked. Talk about lost dreams for these two characters caught up in the life within a Brooklyn tenement. This series was supposed to mirror the working class of the 1950’s, but, were the innocent 1950’s really so bad? Was the working class so angry?

It appears to me, that current life is a lot more complicated, with far more sources of anger upon which abusers can blame their unacceptable behavior.

 The Evolution: 

Historically, the start of The Honeymooners began as a six-minute sketch on the DuMont Television Network and then as one of the featured sketches beginning in 1953 on the Jackie Gleason Show (a variety/comedy hour) moving to the CBS Network. The Gleason show was a rival for the ever popular, I Love Lucy show.

Several actresses were considered for The Honeymooners co-starring wife role. However, some of the actresses were blacklisted during the time of the McCarthy hearings. What an opportunity for Audrey Meadows. She sent Gleason her “wake up in the morning look” in a ripped house coat when she was considered too pretty for the role. As it turned out, Jackie Gleason was paid a whopping $65,000 per episode increased to $70,000 during the second season. Audrey Meadows received $2,000 per week.

Other Characters: 

The other two characters of The Honeymooners included Ed Norton, skillfully portrayed by Art Carney, and his wife, Trixie, a rather nebulous person, portrayed by Joyce Randolph, a relatively minor role who was Alice’s best friend. Ed Norton was your average Joe working in the New York City sewer system. He was goofy, yet affable and loyal to a fault to his friend, Ralph. Although his character supposedly went to typing school, he didn’t like contained spaces. Norton was proud to describe his job as, “A sub-supervisor in the subdivision of the department of subterranean sanitation. I just keep things moving.

Back to Intimate Partner Violence… Is Ralph Kramden an Abuser?

I reviewed about a dozen episodes of the Honeymooners on YouTube. Although the viewer can make the case that Alice was very capable of giving it back to Ralph with biting sarcasm, what would be the consequence if she had not stood up for herself? Would Ralph eventually follow through with his gesture “to the Moon, Alice!” and make contact?

On the other hand, being submissive and following an intimate partner’s demands to the letter in no way shape or form guarantees safety. So what’s a woman to do? Anger and jealousy over perceived infractions will often continue to fuel the partner’s behavior. Alice does not have to do anything wrong in the eyes of the world. What Ralph perceives and does is what matters in the end with such toxic relationships.

A Few Examples of Ralph’s Verbal Abuse from Episodes of “The Honeymooners” 

“Alice, you’re a riot…. I’d like to… (Waving fist); Boys and Girls Together episode;

“Just be careful Alice, Be careful… The life you save may be your own”; A Women’s Work is Never Done episode;

“Oh Boy, are you ‘gonna get yours… Just once… Pow” Peacemaker episode;

(Talking about not washing his bowling shirt or darning his socks) “… I’m gonna put in a new system right now. When I come home, if it isn’t done the way I say, you get one demerit. Do you know what happens to you when you get ten demerits…? A Woman’s Work is Never Done episode

Take my advice and do not let your kids watch The Honeymooners.
Parting Comments:
Alice/Audrey Meadows: Audrey Meadows was a lot more savvy than Alice. She was the only actor on the series who requested financial compensation and residuals be written into her contract for the viewing of shows over time. In real life, she served as Director of the First National Bank of Denver for 11 years, the first woman to hold such a position. She also was instrumental in the design of flight attendant uniforms and customer service policies at Continental Airlines (her late husband’s company).

Smart woman!!! She protected her financial interests and was a pioneer career woman too! Ralph would have been so jealous!

Please go to http://www.documenttheabuse.com/. It may help you… It will certainly help someone you know!



To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com


The Wrath of the “Fire Gods” Took Nine Lives in South Carolina

CORRECTION Charleston Fire

The Charleston 9 Will NEVER Be Forgotten

It happened on June 18, 2007, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Victims of the Sofa Super Store Warehouse

Rodney Bradford Baity, age 37 was the first firefighter to be located-  Described as a “gentle giant, a man of few words, with a prankish nature at work and a dedicated  husband father who always got down on the floor to play his kids;

James a Drayton, age 56, with 32 years experienced, he was very dedicated to helping others in any way possible.He was a former Marine with a myriad of interests including – cooking‚ crabbing‚ vacationing on cruise ships‚ fixing things‚ working on cars‚ listening to James Brown‚ dancing‚ and being around children, and being a stagehand in local theater.

Melvin Champaign, 46,  struggled in childhood and was raised by his Grandmama “for his safety”. Melvin  was beloved by many and talented beyond compare – always the role model and paying it forward for others. A black belt in karate, working with youth, a carpenter, musician and songwriter, a member of the Army, who also had a passion for the ministry and earned his  Associate’s degree in theology. He married, had three children and also worked as an ironworker.  He returned to Charleston from Tacoma Washington in 2003 and  fulfilled another life long dream of becoming a firefighter until the time of his death in 2007.

Michael French, age 27, aka “Frenchie”  or “Mikey”, began his career as a volunteer firefighter at age 14,. He worked for several departments and ultimately achieved assistant Engineer in one year versus the 2 to 3 years for others to achieve. He was born on Valentine’s Day and a sweetheart from the beginning. He was laid back‚ never in a hurry‚ rarely got excited‚ but always busy. He ever stopped according to his mother. Frenchies was a devoted husband and father to a girl and boy. Frenchies was also an avid hunter and fisherman who never lost his primary passion for firefighting.  

Theodore “Mike” Benke, age 49, had nearly a 29 year firefighting career. He was the consummate soccer and all other activity” Dad  to  3 children and 3 grandchildren – always doing for others! For example He was always driving kids to soccer and baseball practices/games‚ school‚ field trips‚ working in the yard‚ homework‚ housework‚ (especially laundry‚) cleaning the pool‚ or whatever needed to be done. He ALWAYS found time to have fun with his family. He especially loved racing and telling people how proud he was of his family. He was described by his wife as a gentle soul who disliked confrontation , but filled his life with love and laughter.

William Hutchinson III, age 48, rose through the ranks of firefighting beginning at age 18 and progressed from firefighter to engineer to Captain and had the reputation as a trusted and skilled mentor. He was also a barber, bringing those tools of the trade to the firehouse for haircut. He was married with two daughters. Billy enjoyed vacationing and competing in golf tournaments in Myrtle Beach, where he won trophies for his golf skills. Billy’s wife, Phyllis remembers pinning his badge‚ collar brass‚ and name tag on every duty day for 18 years.

Mark Kelsey lost his life at age 40, after a 26 year career in firefighting in the Ashley River and then the Charleston City SC Fire Department following nine years in the US Navy. His ranks included Captain, Certified Fire Investigator and Engineer prior to his death. His hobbies included motorcycle riding, on a custom chopper with “the Wolf Pack.”
Lous “LuLu” Mulkey, age 34, achieved Captain status as well as numerous awards in the line of duty, during his 11.5 year tenure with the Charleston City Fire Department  including saving the life of a fellow firefighter. He also was very involved in coaching “his boys” in basketball and football. LuLu was married to his wife  Lauren with a wide array of friends and players who loved him dearly.  

Brandon K. Thompson was the youngest of three brothers, originally from Mobile Alabama with all boys following the volunteer firefighter track. He embraced the role of firefighter , excelled in many aspects. He held awards of firefighter of the year at Pine Ridge and was the Assistant Chief and station Captain. He also wrote grants to obtain needed safety equipment.He joined the Summerville Fire Department in 1999 and joined the City of Charleston Fire Department in 2003, foregoing a potential position as engineer to “be on the nozzle and fight fires.”    

Sadly, Brandon was not scheduled to work the day of the fire, as he had swapped shifts and parshished with his colleagues from Ladder Company #5.   Brandon’s body was the last firefighter to be removed from what remained of the furniture warehouse. He  was the youngest of the Charleston 9.

The Fire Event

The fire began at 6:15 p.m. at the Sofa Super Store warehouse 1807 Savannah Highway. It was comprised of a retail store  with 42,000 square feet and a 17,000 square foot warehouse at the back of the single story building. Firefighters arrived in three minutes addressing the initial fire in the loading dock area and with adequate visibility and occasional wisps of smoke until a rear door was opened where the fire raged.


A description from the Center for Disease Control Report-

The right showroom addition to the loading dock was opened. Within minutes, the fire rapidly spread into and above the main showroom, the right showroom addition, and the warehouse. The burning furniture quickly generated a huge amount of toxic and highly flammable gases along with soot and products of incomplete combustion that added to the fuel load. The fire overwhelmed the interior attack and the interior crews became disoriented when thick black smoke filled the showrooms from ceiling to floor. The interior fire fighters realized they were in trouble and began to radio for assistance as the heat intensified. One firefighter activated the emergency button on his radio. The front showroom windows were knocked out and firefighters, including a crew from a mutual-aid department, were sent inside to search for the missing firefighters. Soon after, the flammable mixture of combustion by-products ignited, and fire raced through the main showroom. Interior fire fighters were caught in the rapid fire progression and nine firefighters from the first-responding fire department died. At least nine other firefighters, including two mutual-aid fire fighters, barely escaped serious injury.”

Contributing Factors for  the Death and Destruction-

  • Firefighters becoming disoriented;
  • Lack of  a sprinkler system;
  • South Carolina didn’t follow Federal regulations for two firefighters to stay outside a burning structure for every two firefighters that enter on “rapid intervention missions.” Rather, South Carolina previously followed a “two firefighters in, one firefighter out rule.”(Reference New York Times article below)

Many of the 43 NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety) incident report  recommendations included this sampling-

Several examples of lack of Standard Operating Procedures:

  • lack of continuous risk assessment by those in charge outside, communicating     with those inside;
  • adequate protection of fire equipment;
  • improved training of safety techniques, improved radio equipment and communications with other entities;
  • provide compliant  fire work station garments;
  • use thermal imaging cameras to assess  the fire situations;
  • require the use of sprinkler systems and automatic ventilation systems in commercial structures, especially ones having high fuel loads.

The Controversy of Flame Retardant Chemicals in Furniture and Health Risks-  

In the Charleston Fire,The burning furniture quickly generated a huge amount of toxic and highly flammable gases along with soot and products of incomplete combustion that added to the fuel load.

A Brief History of Toxic, Flammable Furniture- (According to the National Resources Defense Council-(a New York City-based, non-profit international environmental advocacy group)-

Since 1975, furniture foam has been laden with flame retardant chemicals to meet the standards of California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117). But recently, (2014) studies by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other groups have found that ame retardant chemicals in furniture are ineffective at preventing, limiting, or slowing down res.2 Further, the chemicals don’t stay in the furniture—they migrate out and collect in indoor dust. When people touch, inhale, or accidentally eat contaminated dust, ame retardants enter their bodies. Young children are especially vulnerable to flame retardant exposures.Flame retardant chemicals are associated with a variety of health risks, including cancer, hormone disruption, and diminished cognitive capacity.

Eleven responses were obtained  from 16 major furniture manufacturers , with 9 completing their survey. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/safer-sofas-FS.pdf

On June 18, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown directed the state to revise TB117. The revised standard, TB117-2013, improves re safety by addressing how fires actually start, eliminating the need for ame retardant chemicals. Effective January 1, 2014, companies can voluntarily comply with TB117-2013. The standard became mandatory on January 1, 2015.”

Even in 2018, I would estimate that this is still very much a work in progress. However, the two larger questions regarding loss of life for the Charleston families would be; How much of the toxic chemical load contributed to the loss of life in the Charleston fire?And, how do you weigh the need for fire retardant against the potentially harmful health risks today?

I would say ask a firefighter.  They care about saving lives. A balance between the two concerns must be achieved!




Eleven Years Later-

There is no doubt that safety standards, procedures, equipment, staffing,  and communication has vastly improved since the Charleston Nine Fire. Although there was much devastation and loss of life, invaluable lessons were learned in the midst of fire, black soot,  toxic chemicals, tears and everlasting grief.

One positive outcome was the formation of the FAST team – The Firefighter’s Assistance and Support Team was an outgrowth of this tragic Charleston event designed to help firefighters on a peer to peer basis for their grief in the performance of their jobs,  in assisting others, dealing with their  loss and making professional referrals and resources available to these brave first responders. This program has grown to include other departments.

Listen to my Shattered Lives podcast- http://www.blogtalkradio.com/insidelenz/2015/11/14/shattered-lives-firefighter-assistance-and-support-team-fast 

References- https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200718.html






To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com