I would like to share with you some of the things that 40 years of working at missing children scenes have shown me procedures that must be changed.
First we must change the way we address work and preserve these kinds of crime scenes.
Police agencies receive so many requests to find children and they find many of them very quickly so that they have a tendency to treat them as assistance calls not as crime scenes. By the time it is determined this call is an abduction much time has been lost, evidence and many times the complete crime scene has even been destroyed.
Ego, attitude and territorial problems cause many police agencies to loose control of their crime scenes. Unable to work with other crime scene people make it impossible for good investigators to do their jobs properly.
Poorly preserved crime scenes are the rule not the exception.
Missing children searches in this country are a disgrace as a general rule. I have seen Police Agencies bring in professional search and rescue units and then insist on telling them how to do the job without their having any knowledge of how it should be done.
These crime scenes are the only ones in America where law enforcement tolerates and in many cases invite hundred of people to wander over potential crime scenes.
Scent evidence is a major piece of evidence at any crime scene. Very few police agencies collect, use and preserve scent evidence. Many just abandon it at crime scenes where it is destroyed. WHY DOES ANYONE ABANDON ANY EVIDENCE THAT IS COLLECTABLE?
These are only a small sample of many things that could be improved at these scenes.
I’d like to say to parents, grandparents or anyone raising children that you are the key member in the words “we the people”. Let us try to build a coalition to reduce these astronomical numbers of human suffering and murders and catch more of the predators that prey upon our children.
Let us see how many people really care about these kids and what they are willing to do to help them.
The amount of new material that I put on this page depends on the interest and information it generates.
We the people could make a difference but WE HAVE TO UNITE TO PRODUCE.
These figures are taken from information provided from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These numbers are for each year indicated.
I believe that searches for missing, lost or abducted persons is desperately in need of major changes. Some new thinking, fresh approaches and common sense could do wonders for the victims of these cases.
Any search that carries life & death considerations and creates the emotional environment that we always find at these scenes, I believe, need Law Enforcement to take a much stronger proactive approach to missing persons scenes.
We can no longer allow these missing person scenes to be answered as Assistance Calls and then allow them to lay unprotected for hours while an investigation proceeds to establish it as an abduction scene. By that time valuable time is lost and the scene is badly contaminated. Many times PLS locations are either not found or they are also badly contaminated. Prime evidence is often lost. We then go back to preserve the scene and ask our criminal investigators to try to solve the case by collecting evidence we have already destroyed. It’s being done every day at missing person scenes across this country.
It is, I believe, the only felony crime scene in America where hundreds even thousands of people are allowed to wander all over the area before the victim has been found.
We tape off burglary and other home invasions even assaults. Does this imply abductions are less important? These victims and their families deserve better.
There are four major groups involved in these missions.
It is crucial that all the active participants are all thinking off the same page if the mission is to be successful. A search that is free of misinformation, confusion and controversy is still on the drawing board. So many of these searches are seriously flawed before they even begin.
I don’t believe there are many Police Agencies in this county that would even attempt to lead a parade or escort a dignitary without some kind of proactive discussion beforehand. However a Patrol Officer is routinely dispatched to a possible abduction that could be a life & death situation without any proactive instruction on what should be done.
For the past 10 to 12 years’ searches have gone completely out of control. Somewhere along the line somebody believed that bigger is better. We have gone from searches with 10 to 20 people with a Search Director that produced reasonable results to searches with hundreds of people and some times even thousands of people without any search directors and these are not producing reasonable results at all. That is sad.
Look at some of the high profile cases such as Sara Woods (as far back as 1993), Elizabeth Short, Elizabeth Smart, Van Dam, Dru Sjodin, Lori Hacking the list goes on and on.
These cases have used thousands and thousands of people and they never found a thing. DOESN’T THAT TELL YOU SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG? Let’s fix it.
DUMPS, LANDFILLS, NEW YORK TOWERS 9/11 AND OTHER TOXIC ENVIRONMENTS ALL KILL DOGS AND PUT HANDLERS & SEARCHERS AT RISK OF INFECTION, DISEASE AND POSSIBLE DEATH. This must change now.
Dog handlers of my generation (back in the early 1980”s) learned that these environments were killing our dogs and causing sickness to our handlers. We further discovered the fact that we were not producing enough finds at these locations to make it sensible or practical to put our dogs & handlers at risk. Many good dog handlers stopped this procedure. However there are still a few dog handlers willing to try these scenes. Time is still proving that it is not a sensible or practical endeavor.
Last year (2003) I met with our landfill supervision people and representatives of the New York State DEC to see if a procedure to take GPS readings & Elevations each morning and night at these dump sites could be put in place in the DEC requirements. In a search for a victim this could reduce the tonnage of garbage exposed, handled and searched. It would also reduce the number of searchers required, and the amount of equipment necessary, which would reduce the cost to the counties and fewer people, would be put at risk. I’m told that our NYS DEC is now addressing this procedure and hopefully it will be in place shortly. Other new procedures are also being researched.
Just because we can prove that a body is in a landfill there is no guarantee it can be recovered. All departments that attempt these searches should be aware of this fact and that these searches are very risky, expensive, time consuming and carry some great liability considerations.
I have documentation of a search (in 2003) of a landfill for a murdered 4 year old, 35 pound boy. Police confirmed that a dumpster containing the D&A of this child unloaded at this landfill. Some 800 searchers searched many days (even with dogs) and moved some 180,000 tons of garbage and the body was never found. That is not surprising if you consider the body was in a state of decomposition when it went into the landfill. It was then dumped out of a dump truck, ran over by big equipment (back hoes, bulldozers) and then finally compressed by compactors that weighted 10 to 12 tons that compress the ground so tight that the gases are confined in the landfill unable to escape. Even finding 35 pounds of decomposed tissue in 180,000 tons of garbage are odds a rational mind should reject.
As our society migrates to the country more and more eyes are on the fields and woods where bodies previously were dumped or buried. I believe we are now going to find an increase of requests for landfill searches in the future
Please get his information to your departments or units so they can give it some proactive consideration before a case is dropped in their lap.
I would welcome comments from Law Enforcement, Search/ Rescue/ Recovery and people at large.