What I uncovered sent shivers up my spine but worse, it is representative of a much larger national problem - the deficiencies that exist between the way missing child and adult cases are handled. After verifying the information I had received, I was forced to make a decision to do what I thought was right and notified the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
|Michelle Knight prior to her 2002 disappearance|
An error was made that could have gravely affected Knight's case early on. Rather than point fingers at the law enforcement agency that is understaffed, under-trained, and underfunded, I say this error falls upon each member of Congress and their failure to appropriate enough funding for law enforcement agencies throughout the country to carry out the functions of investigating missing person cases properly. Law enforcement throughout this country desperately needs quality training so mistakes are kept to a minimum, and most importantly a legislative mandate requiring a unified response to missing adults cases with every single case entered into the FBI NCIC as required for children.
Congress funds efforts to find missing children in excess of $30 million annually! Not to mention organizations like NAMUS, Project Jason, Black & Missing, and the Cue Center to name a few, who desperately need funding so they may assist to meet the ever-increasing need for advocacy assistance. If you see a system for children works, model it, fund it, and implement it for adults.
Congress,this is one mistake that can only be undone by each and every one of you putting yourself into the shoes of Michelle Knight's mother who searched for her daughter and distributed fliers ALONE - along with every missing person Michelle Knight represents.
One more thing to those up on the Hill, after 15 years of listening to me plead and warn we are fighting a losing battle without your congressional support - PLEASE, DO THE RIGHT THING!
Here is the Plains Dealer Newspaper article that explains what we discovered today.
Michelle Knight, held captive since 2002, removed by police from FBI database 15 months after disappearance
A special thank you to Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Leila Atassi who took my call today and ran with it! Doing the right thing should be as easy for everyone as it was for her!
About the Author: Kym L. Pasqualini is founder of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and the National Center for Missing Adults in 2000. Kym has spent 20 years working with government officials, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media. Kym is now a freelance writer and serves as an expert in the field of missing persons and victim advocacy.