Skip to main content

Missing persons could be just next door

By Monica Caison, Special to CNN
May 12, 2013 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Amanda Berry speaks in a <a href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG0WePdZoxg&amp;feature=youtu.be' target='_blank'>video released on YouTube</a> on Monday, July 8, thanking people for support and privacy. Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from a Cleveland home on May 6, 2013, after being held captive for nearly a decade. Amanda Berry speaks in a video released on YouTube on Monday, July 8, thanking people for support and privacy. Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from a Cleveland home on May 6, 2013, after being held captive for nearly a decade.
HIDE CAPTION
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Photos: Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
Kidnapped teens found decade later
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Monica Caison: Three Cleveland women's escape aided by a neighbor is uplifting
  • Caison: Many missing persons who have been missing for a long time are not found
  • She says the old "knock and tell" method can make the difference in finding someone
  • Caison: Communities can do more to assist law enforcement in investigations

Editor's note: Monica Caison is the founder of CUE Center for Missing Persons, a nonprofit organization that advocates and searches for the missing and provides support for their families.

(CNN) -- Miracles do happen. Like this week, when Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped their captor after being missing for a decade.

It turned out they were locked away and alive the entire time.

Their fortuitous escape is like a ray of light and reminds us that sometimes good things do happen. A cry for help came out from the walls of silence, and a member of the community responded, aiding in the rescue. The selfless act of a total stranger only reinforces that the public will help when needed.

Monica Caison
Monica Caison

But their story is unusual. Many missing persons who have been missing for a long time are still not found. We should urge all communities to play an integral part in assisting law enforcement in investigations about missing persons.

We live in a world filled with powerful technology that has enabled us to communicate faster and better, yet we seem to lack the simple face-to-face meeting that must take place when searching for clues and information in any type of investigation.

At-a-glance: Still missing in the U.S.

The old "knock and tell" method remains an effective tool today. It must be used when searching for our missing persons. When you talk to someone in person, you can read them better by registering their expressions, gestures and other factors. Sometimes, those things could yield clues. This door-to-door technique can make the difference in finding someone in hours, days or years.

There's no doubt that trying to find missing persons requires a tremendous amount of work. Classifying cases as "runaways" or "walk-aways" does nothing to help the outcome of any given case. If anything, it could hinder and slow the process. The general public normally will not have a heightened sense of concern for those believed to have left on their own.

Are two missing women linked to Castro?
Police, community at odds in Cleveland
Who is Ariel Castro?

The sense of urgency and hitting the ground running from the start could be the difference in many missing person cases. A case can be misdiagnosed upon closing; this is when we confirm that the labeling provided a wrong direction. The word "missing" should be enough and important; the alert(s) system in place such as the Amber/silver provide an additional emergency notification seeking the public's help.

The myth of "a waiting period" to report a missing person still lingers, and many families are turned away by officials and forced to begin their journey on their own without any direction or support. Due to heavy caseloads, law enforcement officials are frequently not afforded the continuous training and education that could help them in the search for a missing person.

Abused but alive: Lessons from survivors

All too often, information is not provided to victims suffering a missing loved one in the onset, such as where to file the report and what agencies can provide support services and help with advocacy and on-the-ground services. These are all key issues that need to be addressed as we move forward to bring home those missing in our country.

Cold cases and unidentified persons need to be revisited and reopened. All cold cases need to be updated and looked at again with a keen eye on what can be done to aid in a recovery.

As we rejoice in the happy ending for the three women and their families and friends, we need to be reminded that there is still much work to be done in the world of the missing.

We need to remember that there are thousands of people who are still seeking resolution and waiting for answers concerning their loved one. As a community, we need to come together, take notice and become aware of what happens in our homes, neighborhoods, towns and cities. And we need to always remember that "every missing person is somebody's child."

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Monica Caison.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
To prevent war with North Korea over a comedy, what would Dennis Rodman say to Kim Jong Un? Movie critic Gene Seymour weighs in.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Michael Werz says in light of the spying cases, U.S. is seen as a paranoid society that can't tell friends from foes.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Eric Liu explains why in his new book, he calls himself "Chinese American" -- without a hyphen.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
John Bare says hands-on learning can make a difference in motivating students to acquire STEM skills.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Karl Alexander and Linda Olson find blacks and whites live in urban poverty with similar backgrounds, but white privilege wins out as they grow older.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
ADVERTISEMENT