Misconceptions about missing person reports

Author: dave culbreth

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- We hear about missing children on the news a lot and everyone jumps in to help.

But what would you do if an adult loved one leaves and doesn’t come back? And you’re convinced they’re in real danger?

“It happens way too often,” said Nicole Damigos.

Damigos started the Southwest Florida Missing Persons Facebook page.

“And I don’t think it’s just people getting up and leaving life.”

She started it six weeks ago after 22-year-old Heather King left a party and never came home.

Her parents filed a missing persons report, but for three days, nothing happened.

On day four, Heather’ s father went looking for her.

“I just kept driving around until I found this small patch of woods and it took me really 10, maybe 15 minutes to find her,” Troy King told WINK News.

He found his daughter lying in the edge of the woods, dead.

Damigo has also assembled a search committee.

“In my case, had there been someone to go out and look, if there was a group of people to take it in their own hands and go out and search the area, a radius at least,” said Pam Truax, Heather’s mother, “we would have found her that night. I believe that.”

That’s how it got started.

“It turned out that Heather had a lot of friends online. So, someone suggested, ‘I wonder if there’s a way that we can do something.’ So I was just the one to put it all together and get the message out there,” said Damigos.

“It used to be, I think, a tradition of law enforcement to treat it not as seriously,” said Captain Les Partington with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

Partington disagrees with people who think authorities don’t really investigate these cases.

He says first they take a report over the phone. Then a deputy goes to the family’s house to gather information including photos.

“Their picture is put out immediately before that officer even leaves the house. A ‘be on the lookout’ is issued. It’s put out to any officer within the United States.”

And they use modern technology.

“We’ll also use their electronics and our electronics to try to ping their phones to locate them with cell phone towers, any use of credit cards or anything like that.”

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