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New book spotlights local disappearance

Posted: April 5, 2011 2:41 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2011 3:00 p.m.
 

The story of Adam Kellner, a 37 year-old former resident of Stevenson Ranch, is featured in the newly released book, "The Last Place You'd Look: True Stories of Missing Persons and the People Who Search for Them" by Carole Moore.

Adam vanished from his mother's home in Stevenson Ranch on November 8, 2007, and has not been spotted since, despite a comprehensive effort by his family to locate him.

Moore interviewed the families of dozens of missing persons across the county and around the world to compile "The Last Place You'd Look," which also focuses on the efforts of police, search and rescue, nonprofits and volunteer organizations.

According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Adam Kellner case is one of about 100,000 active, open and unresolved missing persons cases that sit on the books in the U.S. each day. The numbers are similar in Canada, where annually more than 60,000 children are reported missing.

Although many who disappear return home or are found, here's what the numbers dont say: They're deceptive in that there are many they don't count, such as those who disappear in foreign countries or the unreported thousands who fall through bureaucratic cracks, like the homeless and their children.

Additionally, in the U.S. alone there are more than 40,000 John and Jane Does in cemeteries and morgues across the country, still waiting to be identified.

"Except for very high profile cases, many missing persons slip from the public memory, leaving their families alone in their grief. Can you imagine not ever knowing what happened to our mother, your brother, your child, your spouse?" asked Moore, a former police investigator and contributing editor at Law Enforcement Technology Magazine.

"I wrote this book to help families bring attention to their cases."

Often families are on their own when it comes to looking for their missing loved ones. Police may have neither the resources nor inclination to pursue an investigation involving multiple jurisdictions and hundreds of man-hours. Smaller departments often lack specialized units dedicated to searching for the missing, and many times officers are ill-prepared to track missing persons.

Families are also confronted with a double-edged sword: As long as the case is open, police won't share with them the critical information gathered in the course of the investigation. They are only allowed access when the case is closed, which means the police are no longer actively looking for the missing person.

Pursuing a missing persons investigation is both expensive and emotionally draining. Families often must travel, hire private investigators, operate media campaigns and engage in search and rescue operations. Although volunteer organizations dedicated to helping families find the resources they need provide help, a proper search is expensive and takes time.

Families are also asked to do the unthinkable: Provide DNA, dental records and fingerprints, the significance of which is not lost on those left behind.

Worry and stress also take their toll. As one official at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told Moore, he is forever haunted by a mother who poignantly shared her wish to cover her missing child with a blanket because she had nightmares about the child being cold.

The anguish of having a loved one vanish is unthinkable, yet thousands of families face this heartbreak every day. "The Last Place You'd Look" provides searchers a starting point and gives readers an overview of the club no one wants to belong to.

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