I run a large missing persons website (http://www.forthelost.org/) AMA!
I started the site in 2004 and have run it since then.
Proof is edit to front page near email address: http://www.forthelost.org/
in a tangent, I'm also trying to raise money for some dental work: http://www.reddit.com/r/Assistance/comments/20a0n4/trying_to_raise_money_for_the_rest_of_dental_work/
They get on there too.
I don't have any questions, but I wanted to say you're doing something special with your life. Keep making the world a better place.
Have you found any of the missing persons?
Personally, myself? No. In one case the abductor wrote me an email the authorities used to track the person down. From cases on my site? A significant amount: http://www.forthelost.org/located.html
what did the abductor say?
The standard "how dare you call me a child abductor when I only have a warrant out for my arrest on charges of child abduction." Almost all of the time those people are in another country where they won't be extradited, so sending the email is harmless to them. I'm not sure what she was thinking in this case.
it was a girl abductor?
It was written by the non-custodial mother (abductor) and her girlfriend at the time (also wanted for the crime).
It happens a lot, actually. I just rarely get one from someone who's still in their home country.
If someone is in a country that can't or won't extradite, can a bounty hunter be sent to catch them or at least the child in that situation? Can you at forward the email to the authorities of that country and would they respond given that nature of the crime?
In most cases, the country knows perfectly well they are wanted and just don't care. People sometimes try to just abduct their child back, but it has lead to arrests in many cases.
How if it's your own child!
If you don't have custody, it's illegal. And statistically, parents are the ones most likely to harm a child.
Presented without further comment: http://forthelost.wordpress.com/the-victims-of-family-abduction/
Thank you for doing this AMA, have any of the children on your site been linked to sex trafficking?
Not that I know of.
Do you have any insight on how effective Amber Alerts are?
They have been effective in several cases, like that of Alisa Meyer. She was literally snatched from her yard by a stranger, but he let her go because of the publicity. I wish they were issued more often for parental abduction cases. I don't know statistically how effective they might be. I do think that getting the picture of a missing person out as many places as possible can't be anything but good.
What made you decide to start up this site?
I felt like I wasn't doing enough on my own to help the missing. When Adam Haseeb died (see my comment below about him) I started to heavily focus on family abduction cases. I aim to provide content that other sites don't as well, like posters for children who don't have them and a section for closed cases.
I don't know if you're still online, but I have a serious concern with your website. It only really concerns the successful cases. Please, remove the childrens' full names from the list, keep first names only. In the future, if someone googles them they will find out some incredibly intimate and private moments that occured in that child's life. Imagine them in high school, imagine it when they are applying for jobs, etc. People get googled these days.
Obviously this doesn't apply to cases that are not closed. Maybe consult a lawyer as well to find out what your liability is if a (former) child decides to sue you at a later date. I know it's hard to believe, but this stuff can happen, and happen fast!
I have removed resolved cases when the now adult child requests it. I have in fact gotten many lawsuit threats, but all of those were from abducting parents who were upset that I called them an abductor, warrant for their arrest nonwithstanding.
All I'm saying is be careful. Whether it is intended as such or not, it is a massive breach of the child's right to privacy - I am talking fundamental rights of the child here, not local state law or something. There's a legal storm brewing about usage of child data by NGOs / charities / Whatever in general.
If you don't post enough information to identify the child or anyone else involved (i.e. no full name, D.O.B.) you can keep the story online without too many problems. these are good stories and I think, if the site makes much income at all, they would be one of the reasons for it. Put a quick disclaimer at the top that you're not divulging all data to protect the child's privacy and you're golden.
Parental consent is flimsy as a defence
I will take this into consideration. (DOBs aren't included in resolved cases, just the date of the disappearance.)
What is the success rate of finding the people who are missing?
This depends on the category of missing you're talking about. Runaways and family abductions are almost always found safe (there are tragic exceptions), people who are just lost have a lower rate (some die in the wilderness), non-family abductions are lower. Even then, most non-family abductions are found safe; they usually involve someone the child knows, not a stranger.
I see you have a page for closed cases. Have you ever had any closed cases solved, or reopened? What happened?
Yes. The most famous was Miguel Morin - he got found because his abductor was invetigated by CPS. I've heard from family members that they've been found as well. Several have had their cases reo-opened.
Of all time, counting children found? Adam Haseeb. Easily. http://forthelost.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/adam-jordan-haseeb/
Currently missing children? A lot of cases, especially ones with next to no information.
Have the authorities ever personally thanked you for your service?
Yes. People who work for law enforcement, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and other organizations have thanked me for my services. I am in regular contact with some of them.
I share any missing children reports I see on Facebook, what more can I do to help?
You can go to www.missingkids.com and sign up to be a poster partner: http://www.missingkids.com/BecomePartner You then distribute the posters as you can.
What made you decide to start the site?
What was it like starting up a website in 2004? Did you have any prior experience with websites before it?
I had taught myself HTML online, and I learned more as I kept up the site. I started the site because I felt I needed to do more to help the missing.
Have you had anyone just completely disappear with no trace or signs of foul play? If so what would be the strangest?
Angela Westberry is up there - http://www.forthelost.org/awestberry.html
I have seen lots of cases where it's completely up in the air what happened to the person - no solid leads at all.
ya im gonna say she was drowned or thrown overboard. Case closed
I know her sister, who knows she reached the Bahamas, since she called her there. Both of those make sense, but that doesn't explain the loss of the boat or the others.
So no one knows who the other 3 people were, they weren't reported missing, but Angela was reported missing by her family?
Who saw her on the boat? I'm lost here.
The boat was seen, but I don't think anyone was seen on it.
I have no idea about the other three people; even her sister didn't know who they were.
You are right, and I will do so.
How was she confirmed on that boat. Anyway, the online article really doesn't provide enough detail.
When she last talked to her sister she said she'd been on it. I do not know if she was later confirmed on it.
If you're refering to my link, I've researched the case to the bone and that's really all there is.
Girl goes to Bahamas (with friends? known?) calls home, "i was on a boat" never to be heard from again. That sounds like the summary? Anything else I'm missing? What about the trip there? Purpose, who was supposed to go? Sorry still seems light even for a case where there is no leads. There are facts missing. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post this all here. I'm just curious.
I know she wanted to vacation there. That's really all I know. Lots of cases have almost no information, sadly enough.
Thanks for the reply. Thats a pretty strange case. Cases like this fascinate me. I find Ray Gricar's disappearence very odd too. Maybe you have him on your website.
No, he's not. He only fits into one category, but no one's asked for his case there.
People do and have vanished on their own, lived their entire life without contacting anyone they used to know, and only were found on death. David McDonald, Esther Gavin, Juanita Howard.
How many people are disappearing in a year !
Hard to tell. I've seen estimates of three hundred thousand children going missing in a year.
Americans, or worldwide?
Americans. Worldwide I'm not as sure. Lots of kids go missing in Canada and Mexico that I know about. Mexico has no real centralized database for the missing, which makes things difficult to research.
Thoughts on missing white children receiving majority of the attention from the media?
It's much more complicated than that, honestly. Missing white kids who run away or get abducted by a parent get no attention unless something really weird happens. Younger kids who vanish under weird circumstances get more attention. This blog post by a friend of mine gives some more detail: http://charleyross.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/the-media-and-missing-people/
I try to keep a reasonable mix of cases on my site. It has occured to me that most of the closed cases on my site are people of minority descent, though.
I've seen cases like that before, sadly.
I just wanted to say thank you for the work that you do. My babysitter went missing in 1994 (I believe it was that or 93) and is still considered an endangered runaway. I occasionally Google her to see if there have been any updates.
Laura Thompson? Krystyn Dunlap? Jennifer Perry? Bertha Sieg?
Monique Daniels, missing from Moore, OK
I was eventually counting down to 1992. Ha.
Anyway, I constantly look for more information to see if anything was found. Everything was so weird - her parents didn't report her missing for months, they said they received a letter from her but a family member said it was a hoax. In 2003, CSI actually went to the house they lived in at the time and dug up a back porch to check for any "evidence." They didn't find anything.
(Shortly after they reported her missing, the dad quickly built a back porch and they moved to Germany.)
Yeah, it's suspicious. Her disappearance has been now classified as "Endangered Missing."
Best success story?
Several family abduction cases has reduced me to tears when the child was found: Nathan Slinkard, Dalton Lucas, Christopher Gulbraa (who escaped from Japan on his own), Kipper Lacy.
Have you given any thought into accepting bitcoin donations?
I've never heard of them.
Its a newish internet thing, that has been gathering steam, if you want to know more about bitcoin there is a community on reddit at /r/bitcoin, they give a lot of love to charities accepting bitcoin and can give you advice on how to set it up. It shouldn't take long to add to your website you could be up and running today if you jump straight in and depending on how your website is constructed.
THanks, I'll look into it.
I vote for editing. Your decriptions do not make things too clear sometimes...
I don't write everything on the site. The case files are written by whoever has their email address on the page, (http://www.forthelost.org/cases.html) and I keep my hands off those other than image updates. I can and will rewrite many of them, though.
Out of all the cases you've had on your site, is there a particular unsolved case that haunts you?
Lots of them, too many to name. I get frustrated, for lack of a better term, when a small child vanishes with no information at all about their disappearance, like Alexander Ferguson or Samantha Mora.
Why don't missing persons photos show up on pop ups for main websites? It does not make sense to me that more is not done to post photos and data etc.. for the masses. I have a few questions I am not sure if you can answer but wanted to ask anyway. 1.) Are there lobbyist that are trying to achieve laws to help increase requirements to show missing persons? 2.) If people were identified nationwide on mainstream media do you think it could cause harm in the sense that a kidnapper would become paranoid?
For the second question, I don't think it would cause paranoia. Kidnappers might dump the kid somewhere if they were not a family member. Family members who kidnap children know very well they will have a support group. For the first, there's already laws in place to document missing people; NCIC, CODIS, Namus. They need to be used as much as possible. I'm not sure how anyone could force national media to cover missing people, and not just the good-looking ones, but if it was possible they could feature a different person every night for years.
This is a subject I'm very interested in.
What would you say is the most prevalent reason people go missing?
Do any people go missing who are obviously not kidnapped etc? Like visible on CCTV, walking down a street, turn a corner and poof.
Do you have a list of last known locations?
Are some locations coming up more often than others?
Thanks in advance.
Most missing children are abducted by a family member or run away. I'm not as sure about adults who go missing.
California seems to have more missing people than any other state, but that just might be because California has a centralized missing persons database that is quite comprehensive.
What was the strangest reason or story for someones disappearance?
Not on my site, but Samuel Wilson: http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1792dmirl.html
The Sodder case is also up there: http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/s/sodder_betty.html
And the case of Chloie Leverette and Gage Daniel - http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/d/daniel_christopher.html and http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/l/leverette_chloie.html
Have you ever found someone who was missing that disappeared on their own. For example a teen who ran away or an adult who just wanted to start life over somewhere else?
how have you not found the person in my basement yet? Her name is Chelsea. She is 19 in dog years
Because no one reported her missing, of course.
Why do you only look for large people who are missing. Why not other sizes?
I define it as one pound or more, so there's a lot of room there.
What's the minimum weight the missing person has to be to be considered "large?"
I have no idea where I am. Can you help? Does it work like that?
I suggest GPS.
What about all the small and normal sized missing persons?
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