Aware of missing people? Aware of what the effects of crime? We all know that these things exist but we may not know to what extent or to how they can affect one personally. People vanish, that is, go missing for a wide variety of different reasons and under many different circumstances. It is such a HUGE epidemic that it is simply overwhelming to think about. I had “discovered” Facebook because of my growing awareness of missing people. I had become aware of missing/unidentified people by default, because I was trying to avoid facing the real and seemingly unsolvable issues in my life and in my family. There was seemingly NOTHING I could do about my unexplained differences, the mysteries of my past and what was going on in my family. So I absorbed myself in true crime and missing persons cases that I saw on TV and read about in books.
People of all races, genders, races, ethnicties and from all walks of life go missing. Boys and girls and men and women vanish. People all over the world go missing. Of all missing adults, half are men who have gone missing. What does this mean? It means that any person can go missing or become a crime victim. And any family can, at any time, have a loved one go missing.
People vanish because of simple misunderstandings. That is, they may fail to tell family, friends or whoever they are with at a given time where they are going. Or people may misunderstand each other about each other’s whereabouts and lose each other. In Scripture, Christ, as a 12-year-old boy, was missing for three days for this reason. Over a year ago, a couple assumed their child was with the other; that child was missing and later found dead.
People vanish voluntarily. Children often run away from home because they are fleeing bad home lives or because they want to be free from authority. Adults voluntarily vanish because they are fleeing the responsibilities and trials of life, bad marriages, or arrest warrants. Most runaways, children and adults, are found safe and alive. But many are not, as many encounter foul play in transit, such as human trafficking, rape or even murder.
People vanish because of accidents or injuries or because of amnesia. They lose all sense of their surroundings and forget where they are, and this is how such people turn up missing. Most of such people seem to be found alive but not always: The high-profile, unidentified “Benjamin Kyle” is believed to have been a victim of amnesia before he met with foul play where he was beaten unconscious. Today he lives unidentified and does not know who he is.
People vanish because of wandering. Children with special needs, and many adults with special needs, especially autism, are prone to wander. It is such an epidemic that there are nonprofits and devises devoted to stopping this alarming trend. Most are found safe, but many, including children, meet with tragic ends.
Abuse of all forms, especially child abuse and partener/spouse abuse, is a big reason that so many people vanish. Abusers often goes bad and abusers, to escape detection and flee justice, stage their victim’s deaths as disappearances. We hear far too many cases of missing children and missing adults whose deaths are shown to have been murders at the hand of abuse gone out of control. For this very reason, it muder that is the reason too many people of all ages go missing. Their “disappearnces are actually murders which have been staged as missing persons cases. These people, according to one book, have been “erased” by their abusers.
People vanish because they have become human trafficking victims. This is true especially of runaways. We have heard, if we have been following the news, several separate cases of undercover FBI operations where human trafficking sex rings have been uncovered, and victims have been released. Many who work as “sex workers” now may no doubt be missing people if matches could be made through searches.
People, especially children and, less often, women, vanish because of kidnapping. Kidnapping can be done by non-custodial parents, acquaintances or, least often, complete strangers. The high-profile abduction cases which we are familar with, like Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard, are the exceptions, not the rule. Most abductions are family abductions, followed by acquaintance abductions. If you notice many of the Amber Alert cases, at least in your area or in the news, you will notice that most seem to be family abductions.
Weather disasters are a big reason that people go missing, especially major ones. We have seen how many peope vanished because of Hurricane Katrina, because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and because of other weather disasters. Most of such missing people are not found alive. Some are, but they seem to be in the minority.
People who vanish can often be matched with unidentified people, whether with the overwhelming majority who, sadly, are unidentified human remains, or with living unidentified people. In the US, alone, there are from 40,000-60,000 unidentified people. People end up unidentified because they went missing before there the development of DNA methods to identify them, because they went missing outside of their states or countires or for many other reasons. Many missing people can be matched with unidentified people.
The topic of missing/unidentified people and posters of these cases, don’t make any of us (including me) comfortable, or make anyone feel good. But unpleasant realities don’t go away by ignoring them. Because too many in my network have removed me because they did not want to see such material on their homepages, I have created a Facebook page devoted just to missing/unidentified people and crime victims. It is on my blogspot as a badge and I encourage you to click there and check it out.
My Missing Persons Facebook Pages