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!

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“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.

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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

 

No Time for the Pain, Drama, or False Hopes Inflicted on Families of Homicide and the Missing

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We all go about our daily business doing what we need to do – including firing up our passions and inspiring our collective villages. However, within that scenario, there are a number of pitfalls on social media about which we need to be wary.

Case in point – I received a Facebook message from a mysterious woman in a faraway land near Russia. This woman commented on my blog written about a high profile missing person who established a legacy for the CUE Center for Missing Persons.

Mystery woman made a comment stating that she had seen the missing person last year in Russia.  The missing person in question disappeared 16  1/2 years ago.

It is not out of the realm of possibility, for evidence, altered identity, remains and the like have been discovered. But, what transpired next seemed suspicious to me.  How do you sort out the crazies from the scammers from the truly informed who want to help?  You approach with caution, sending a private message. Your message should clearly state that if the “informant” has verifiable proof of the person’s whereabouts, contact X resource – whether it is the non-profit tip line or the police with contact info provided. If they do not follow up…that’s a giveaway!

In this instance, such a directive was given. The person replied that she “did not have international calling capability.” Well…. Anyone worth their salt knows that if they contacted me via the internet, there are options such as Skype or other software providing telephone calls via the internet.  The final comment to me was, “Do you have any idea what happened to her?” That’s when I knew she was a fake, fake, fake looking to perpetrate her drama on me or use me for her own mischievous purpose. She obviously never bothered to read the contents of my well researched detailed blog as to what may have happened!

Why make such claims in the first place? I am not inclined to friend a total stranger in a foreign land. I have no reason to do so. I do not want to be part of her “agenda.”

Creating drama and false hope for the families of homicide and missing persons does a terrible disservice to people who are already overburdened with grief, worry and the vacuousness in their hearts. It is unconscionable!

A few words to the less than wise – NEVER make claims about others that are untruthful, that you cannot back up. Doing so inflicts more pain, false hope and makes you part of the problem rather than the solution.

Foreign lady – You are BLOCKED!

Stay vigilant! If it doesn’t make sense, abandon all contact. Refer to your most trusted social media references and keep up on the latest scams and tools to monitor.

For many useful Social Media related blogs, visit https://imaginepublicity.com/

 

The Story of a Missing Person Known as Sage 

 

When the straight world collides with gender identity issues it becomes the land of unintended consequences, confusion, misunderstandings and focusing on the wrong things like bathrooms. Please! It is fodder for the sensational media, but in the end it only hurts a community that has already suffered much oppression.

Combine the forces of human nature with the epidemic of missing persons and it can create the perfect storm. The Cue Center for Missing Persons, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, rated one of the top 100 non-profits in the nation as an all volunteer operation, has served thousands (more than 9,000) families of missing persons in its 22 year history.

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Profile: Synopsis from the Cue Center for Missing Persons:

Dashad, Laquinn “Sage” Smith identifies as male or female depending upon the situation. Dashad is a male transgendered person who has not had surgery.   She disappeared on November 20, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in Charlottesville, VA. She was last seen in the 500 block of West Street to meet someone she met on line by the name of Eric McFadden.

Police have not been able to locate Mr. McFadden and he has not been seen since that time.  Lolita Smith, “Ms. Cookie,” is Dashad’s grandmother and has served as her primary advocate and family support.

Dashad was dressed in house clothes- dark grey sweatpants, a jacket and a black scarf and grey boots. She was to meet Eric near the Amtrak station.   Law enforcement did a search of a local landfill with no results.  Police have communicated extensively over the years  with her grandmother, “Miss Cookie,” since the disappearance.

Dashad had just signed a new lease on her very first apartment, and was extremely happy, with no known reason to go missing.  Typically, she was in constant contact with her grandmother previously.

November 20, 2015 marked the three year anniversary with a special event in her honor.  There is no particular theory as to the whereabouts or circumstances of Dashad’s disappearance.

Vital Information: 

Missing Since: 11/20/12
Missing From: Charlottesville Virginia
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age at Disappearance: 19 years
Black Male
Height: 5’11
Weight: 130 pounds
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black (Long)
Clothing: Black jacket, dark grey sweatpants, black scarf, and grey boots.
Full name: Dashad Laquinn Smith
Nickname: Sage

If you have any information, that you feel may be related in any way, please contact the following entities.

Investigative Agency
Charlottesville Police
434-970-3970
or
Crime stoppers
434-977-4000

If you have any information on this case please contact CUE Center For Missing Persons   at (910) 343-1131 or the 24 hour tip line (910) 232-1687.