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/




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


A Cry for Help in the Middle of the Night


The job of a crime victim advocate is by no means a 9 to 5 existence.  Fragile human beings often can’t adhere to time schedules.  Their lives have spun out of control.

Those who are paid advocates answer the phone during business hours, leave an 800 number or advice to call 911 during off hours.  But, the trouble is trauma and life and death situations just don’t conform.

A person may be actively grieving, in physical, emotional or psychological pain. They may be terrified of some event in their life, not realizing why they remain helpless. Past decisions often place them in circumstances they could never foresee.

Armchair critics can easily point fingers and pass judgement regarding the complexities of people’s lives, not realizing that their own situations can change in a New York minute if the Gods foretell.

In the many years I have worked with victims, each is unique in some way, and yet there is a constant familiar ring to their personal stories, their desperation, the longer you listen.

Examples – (Frequently Intimate Partner Violence in nature)

“Please reply before he kills me”  “He ignored the restraining order”  I went to the police, but they did nothing.  I have no money.  I’m afraid for my children. The system in the State of ____ is totally against me.   I can’t escape him as he watches my every move” “I don’t have a phone.”

In a previous blog post, Homicide as a Steady Diet, I discussed the fact that I am at risk of being typecast as a homicide expert with nothing else to offer. Regardless of people’s reading habits or radio listening preferences, I fight against this image, as it is just not true.

Insatiable appetite for violence or not, I will not be painted as a one trick pony. At the other end of the spectrum are the indiscriminate victims reaching out to anyone and everyone. There are two groups of people I worry about:

1)  The truly terrorized, as in intimate partner violence victims and,

2) Those who perceive injustices to themselves. Their pervasive victimization as so great, having been worn down by the system so badly, that they lash out at everyone and become truly toxic in their words and actions. It is a poison that no one can alleviate.

If you read between the lines, the former group may want to be helped and truly lack the resources, the support, the resiliency, and the know how. Fear may have immobilized them. They actually say, “I am going to die and don’t know where to turn.”  Imagine their burdens, but try to imagine the responsibility and the burden it also imposes on the receiving end of compassionate, helpful, well intentioned people.  

The second group of people may say they want help, but their account is so vile, the blame towards others so pervasive, without taking any personal responsibility, that they just want a stage upon which to vent their rage. 

Why is the distinction of these two groups important? It is important to me as you have to think quickly on your feet as it can sincerely be a matter of life and death.

Lucky for me, these desperate cries for help do not come as a steady diet, but they do come to my website, particularly related to intimate partner violence. I do not invite them. They are indiscriminate. They are supposed to leave information about victim impact statement inquiries and they ignore the instructions.

For the record, I do have a working knowledge of IPV, thanks to Susan Murphy Milano and many other colleagues over the years. However, this does not qualify me as an expert, nor do I necessarily want to take on these issues as my own.  It appears that the Tracey Thurman blog post has created a monster of sorts in this area.  I suspect that my well researched, carefully written and wildly popular blog of this historic Connecticut case is the culprit here.   I gratefully accept the exposure it has given me, but it can be a double edged sword.

Readers, please do not confuse my God given talent as a superior writer to tell a story with expertise in every subject matter pertaining to crime!

Just a couple of weeks ago on a December night when I had gone to bed, my phone lit up and “whooshed” a message.  A response was sent by a colleague to a true life or death IPV victim who wrote to me in desperation. I so appreciated her rapid response, for intuitively, we both know it was very serious.

It matters not that this victim did not follow the rules and used my personal website as a call for help.  It only matters that good and useful information was provided at a moment’s notice when needed. I only hope that the women chose to follow through with the information.  Bless you, my friend for helping. Much love to you for caring in my place. You just may have saved a life.  CALL IT GRACE…..



“Thinking out of the Box” to Save Victims of Intimate Partner Violence


Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

                          The Victim doesn’t have to take responsibility for the victim’s behavior. Anonymous Victim

We do not have to be a German physicist to know the wisdom and the insanity of the first quote. The second quote is indeed foreign and not without controversy, as it doesn’t fit the status quo.

I submit to you that 49 States in the U.S. have continued the insanity of perpetuating intimate partner violence using the same old “tried and mostly failed methods,” including  lack of judicial and law enforcement communication, AND placing blame and responsibility on the victim, time and time again such that it hurts her/him over and over and over again!

The how and why consists of apathy, desensitization to violence and not holding offenders accountable at any level, such that they know exactly “how to work the system.” It is a vicious cycle with few making it out with any sense of self, dignity, or humanity.

A light at the end of the tunnel was forged by a very insightful Police Chief named Marty Sumner, overseeing the medium-sized city (154,000) of High Point North Carolina.  Beginning in 2009, Chief Sumner wanted to address the most troublesome problem in his community, of repeat offenders perpetrating verbal and physical abuse on their partners, “running through the judicial mill like a mouse on and wheel” and, at times, escalating to homicide.  His community deserved far better.  But, how to do it?  Consulting with Professor David M. Kennedy, Director for the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. In fact the centerpiece of this model which came to be known as the High Point Model, stemmed from a paper called “Deterrence and Crime Prevention: Reconsidering the Prospect of Sanction.

With the able assistance of researchers from the University of North Carolina and team members  in High Point at every level, consisting of law enforcement, victim advocates, prosecutors, nurses, social workers, victims  and others , they have seen amazing results. They have totally revolutionized the system by at its essence making offenders versus victims responsible for the follow-up that comes after abuse giving advanced notice with harsh consequences and zero tolerance levels while prosecuting batterers for other offenses along the way as part of the process.

Consider this :

1)  Re-arrest rates In the first two years of implementation re-offense rates using this deterrence program were only 9% per 1.000 + perpetrators as compared tov a 20-34% range typically found elsewhere. 

2) In High Pont, since 2009, homicide rated dropped from 33% to 6 % (1 in 16) which were IPV related using the deterrence program. 

It was an illuminating experience to have the opportunity to interview Chief Sumner and his colleague Victim Advocate, Shay Harger of the Piedmont Family Services in Guilford Count , N.C. This program compliments the Victim based Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit- EAA  conceived and created by the late Susan Murphy- Milano.

Listen to Podcast

click to listen button1


  • Intimate Partner  Violence PSA’s by Amy Robinson
  • The evolution of the High Point Model- a deterrence regime
  • The Victim’s Point of View and an intimate partner’s journey  without the deterrence program
  • Protective Orders, contact  and reality
  • ExpIaining the components and “what happens after the first call”
  • Notification letters – A model from Hudderfied England
  • Number one call for service and how it plays out in time, phone calls and less serious crimes
  • The cycle of violence – “A family of origin “– Desensitization
  • “If he’s doing this in public, what is he doing at home?”
  • Susan Herman, Victim Advocate and Author
  • Community Involvement: “Continued Contact”
  • Continuous training including Lexington Police – North Carolina
  • Victim advocates need to partner with all community partners
  • Contact Chief Marty Sumner:  marty.sumner@highpointnc.gov

Selected Questions from the “Interrogation Room

  • Can they protect victim’s safety by really controlling the offender?
  • What were the “excuses” and why did they persist?
  • What responsibilities do victims have using the deterrence program?
  • How do they get the message across using  additional charges and police monitoring?
  • Which charges count with the “Al Capone Treatment?”
  • Can violence be deterred by “face to face “messages?
  • What is meant by “meeting them where they are”?

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


Life Interrupted…The Toll of Intimate Partner Violence

Shattered Lives, Intimate partner violence,LadyJustice

Mary Ellen Bruneau has suffered an all too common circumstance that wreaks havoc on the mind, body and soul…. and reportedly she has come out the other side of disaster.  The epidemic of intimate partner violence does not discriminate…does not occur only in the poorest of the poor, those of lesser academic standing, minority populations or in the big cities…

Some people have such tragedy in their lives…It’s bound to lend itself to skepticism at times and wondering how people can live through such atrocities…. However, at Shattered Lives, it is not our job to judge. It’s our job to tell their story as presented and let the audience digest the details for themselves.   In any case…all personal stories teach us valuable lessons.

In a study of Domestic Violence Outcomes (2004)

Effectiveness of Hotline, Advocacy, Counseling, and Shelter Services for Victims of Domestic Violence: A Statewide Evaluation: University of Illinois at Chicago:

They follow important variables were ranked according to services provided. *** Note the lack of safety plans and explanation of intimate partner violence in a larger context below….


Outcome Measures, Number of Items, Item Anchors, Sample Items, and Number

  • Support 1 = never, 5 = always; Ranking = 2 “I have someone I can turn to for helpful advice about a problem”
  • Self-efficacy 1 = never, 5 = always; Ranking = 3 I trust my ability to solve difficult problems.”
  • Coping skill 1 = never, 5 = always; Ranking =3 “I have ways to help myself when I feel troubled.”
  • Goal setting 1 = never, 5 = always; Ranking = 3 “I was an active participant in setting goals with my counselor(s).”
  • Information 1 = never, 5 = always Ranking = 3 “Counseling has given me new ways of looking at abuse”
  • Non-judgment 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree Ranking = 3 “My counselor(s) listened respectfully and took me seriously.”
  • Safety Plan 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree Ranking = 1 “My counselor(s) helped me develop a Safety plan”.
  • Personal is Political 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree Ranking =1 “My counselor(s) explained that domestic violence is not only a personal problem but also a social problem”
  • Respect 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree Ranking = 4 “Staff respected my racial/ethnic identity.”

We can only speculate and hope against hope that the data would be better as of 2013


To follow Mary Ellen’s story, beginning in rural Vermont,

listen to the podcast.

  • Introduction to our guest;
  • Delilah relating information on Susan Murphy Milano’s legacy:
  • :http://documenttheabuse.com/   http://www.amazon.com/Times-Up-Abusive-Stalking-Relationships/dp/1608443604;
  • http://imaginepublicity.com/2012/07/04/apple-ieaa-launch/  Apple App for Evidentiary abuse Affidavit;
  • Ladyjustice on the importance of sharing stories and “If I can save but one life…”
  • Mary Ellen: “Abusers are very, very good at manipulating….”
  • A single parent’s priority ;
  • The fourth wife… a ten year gap…
  • Delilah: This is a warning to check into the backgrounds of people with whom you are dating;
  • The red flags….an accusation… starting with a newspaper article;
  • Bi-polar disorder and intimate partner violence explained;
  • A 24-pack of beer “provocateur requests “ and a machete;
  • A speeding truck, thrown out by the perp and being run-over by another car…
  • A coma and Rehabilitation therapy;
  • Domestic violence incarceration “overnight” and DUI….
  • Dealing with alcohol alone and not the abuse…
  • Vermont and the gun culture…
  • Delilah asks if this was “the last straw” and what resources were provided?
  • Lack of counselors specializing in domestic violence;
  • Mary Ellen goes back to school to figure out “what made her husband tick”….
  • A trial and error safety plan…
  • Ladyjustice asks Delilah what other considerations do victims need to be considering including SMM’s book:  “Moving Out, Moving On”
  • http://www.amazon.com/Moving-Out-Susan-Murphy-Milano/dp/1419696300/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368380186&sr=
  • Mary Ellen escape and luring her back to the marriage home….” The honeymoon period”
  • Restraining orders, texting and harassing…after the accident;
  • Getting an apartment and looking for a job…
  • “Making my own way”…and getting myself-esteem back”
  • A battered women’s shelter…”Helping to a point…”
  • Delilah questions accuracy of single women being turned down without children in Vermont;
  • A fixture at the State House trying to change DV laws…
  • Running for Governor and the aftermath…
  • The importance of voting and being invested in the DV issue;
  • Divorce papers in the mail from annulment and alimony attorney in Utah
  • Forgiving for what he did versus his actions…
  • My life is so much better now…even before marriage…
  • A book about domestic violence…and Henry Lee Institute
  • Mary Ellen’s main message- Be Safe….. One Step at a time…
  • Contact Information:  maryellenbruneau@hotmail.comor 802- 279-6944.


Questions you may have….

  • What was Mary Ellen’s background before her life with domestic violence?
  • Was Mary Ellen looking for marriage fulfillment?  (The courtship)
  • When did things get bad and what was the progression?
  • What are the consequences of alcohol and bipolar disorder?
  • What was the pinnacle of escalation regarding the truck episode?
  • What happened to her husband after the truck episode?
  • What is the level of training of the police in Vermont regarding IPV?
  • What is the story regarding entrance to a women’s shelter?
  • What did Mary Ellen’s safety plan” consist of?
  • Why did Mary Ellen go to her parent’s house to seek refuge?
  • In addition to personal possessions- money and cell phone, what are the other things a victim needs to do?
  • During the probation period, what did Mary Ellen do?
  • What resources were available after she began working again?
  • What happened legislatively after her horrific episode?
  • What was the final chapter with her husband from November 2012 to January 2013?
  • What was involved in Mary Ellen’s forgiveness?


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


Life Interrupted…The Toll of Intimate Partner Violence