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
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT