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Missing Kids

Missing Kids

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From the Sunday Denver Post
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Published by: DallasObserver on Mar 08, 2011
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May l~, 19b5 - Final Edition •

A montage for Mother's Day


L.A. trounces Nuggets 139-122

Sports, Page 1-C


50 cents within Colorado

The truth

ut missing kids

Abductions in Colorado actually rare

By Louis Kilzer Denver Pas! SIaN wnter

Copy/lyl11 HJl:lS, Hie Deoeer P05t Corp.

,\1\ hough ('olnrado parents are walling in une 11> have. their children flilhcrpnnlpd and kids across the state are 1)ell1g taught the "danger of strangers." la w enforcement officers say they can nnd nu evtdence of widespread abducuons III Colorado.

In Iact. the actual cases are so rare that sonic (_',ffl\_'lals believe only ,J handful happen In the state each vvar :\1 the Colorado Bureau of In·.,:(!SUgatlOll'S crime tnlorrnauon center. l1.u·I'ctor Gray Buckley could not name more than three ca ... ses in the slate where authorities believe nussing children were kidnapped by strangers. Ninetyfive percent of the missing children are runaways, he estimated.

The problem WIth the Colorado statistics L~ that the "bulk" figures quoted an' so alarmingly large and the known cases are &J few that oHinals are hard-pressed to ·explain the differellce.

At nrs: glance. Denver would appear to be a dangerous place for children. There were 1,579 missing children reports filed last year. Colorado appears equally threaten, ing. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation recorded 14,900 children as missing las! year.

Please eee STATE on .3-A

41 English soccer fans perish in fiery stands

By The ASSOCiated Press

BRADFORD, England - A wind-driven fire raced through a wooden grandstand holding 3,500 fans at a soccer stadium in northern England Saturday, killing at least 41 people and injuring about ISO, police said,

Millions of television viewers watched foolage of the tragedy as names and thick black smoke en, gulled the main grandstand of Bradford's Valley Parade Ground

v. tthin four minutes.

The soccer match was being

taped for regional broadcast today, but scenes of the lire were shown on national television newscasts within minutes.

Viewers saw the soccer lans stampeding lor exits and streaming onto the field in panic - some with their clothes and hair on Iire.

John Dornaille, assistant police chiel 01 West Yorkshire, told a news conlerence that 40 were be, lieved dead and "that figure could rise by an odd lew ." Police later

Please see FIRE on 15-A

DENVER cloudy and o ccasronai breezy toddy. chance of rain toruqht. Highs: G 39-44. Details on


Business 1- 20F Classilied 1-S2H Crossword [nlplre Editorials 5· 7G Funerals 13b Housing ·1 .. 30E lively Arts 1-28D Metro 1-14tl Perspective 1-4, 8G Region BB

Sperl. I -1 Be Travel 1 ,lOT

The Denver Po::.1 ! Bruce Gaul

Exaggerated statistics stir national paranoia

By Diana Griego and Louis Kilzer Denver Pest S1att wnters

Copyright 1985. The Denver Post Corp

Worry about rrussmg children has escalated into a national epidemic 01 lear fueled bv siausucs that law enforcement o'Ulcials say are exaggerated and Dilen distorted.

The faces of the missIng stare back at us from television screens, milk cartons and supermarket bulleun boards.

Various groups warn us that as many as 1.5 million children disappear each year and that strangers kidnap as many as 50,000 of them.

And, the groups say, as many as 4,000 children are murdered after being abducted.

Shocking? It should be, because law enforcement officials, joined by leading missing-children experts, say these numbers far ex, ceed the actual cases they have in-

vestigated. '

One missing child is too many.

Ano the lamily tragedy of having a child kidnapped and murdered can, not be diluted by numbers of any land. Yet, it is those numbers that are affecUng the lives of millions of parents, affecting how they Ieel about their children's safety and what they should teach their children about the society they live in.

"Parents are scared. They think there's someone on every street comer waning to grab their child," said Dr. Jack M clnvoy, an Aurora psychologist who specializes in

1·-·- .... ------ .. ---- .... - - ... --.-- ...


.Parenls turn 10 chuo 1 0 programs, Page 12A.

I .Custody fIghts. abductions I linked. Page 13A.

i • The three missing chudren

I from Colorado. Page 13A.

I • Many rrussino children are

I runaways, Page 13A

I • Missing-children issue

I tailor-made lor pohucians. Perspective, Page 1 G. .Does publicity help the search for missmq children? I Perspective, Page 1 G.

I _


.The busrness of rmssrnq, children.

.A Denver Post poll reveals effect of mrssinq-children campargn on metro Denv,,' .Missing Children captivate the news media.

family relations,

"It's malting children paranoid, 100. There's a durerence between healthy respect and caulion and what's going on now. It's not healthy anymore."

"There's a tremendous scare on," said Louis M cCagg. director 01 Child Find, the nation's oldest and best-known missmg children organization, Once a strong sup-

Please see KIDS on 12-A

1,000 employees face loss of jobs in Frontier's new ownership plan

By Zeke Scher

Oenver Post Business wruer

A management proposition giving Frontier Airlines' employees majority ownership 01 the Denverbased carrier could cost at least 1,000 jobs befcre the end 01 the year, sources said Saturday,

Attorneys for five Frontier Airlines unions Saturday were studying a surprising new management proposition that would award the employees majority ownership without borrowing to linance the deal.

Dream of gold haunts miner for half century

This IS the seventh in a series of Sunday articles by veteran Denver Post reporter Jack Kisling examining the lives of Colorado's living pioneers, the men and women who brought the state into the 20lh century.

By Jack Kisling Denver Post SIaN wnter

IDAliO SPRINGS - Just over the hill In Russell Gulch there's a gold mine that Charles "Chapo" Fetterhoff has been hankering to get to the bottom 01 lor SOyears.

It's an old and not very big mine, and Chapo, who is 72 and stands 5-leet-2, will admit with a grin that in those two respects he and the mine are pretty evenly matched.

He was dubbed Chapo by an Idaho Springs mill boss in the 1930:;. "'Chapo' is Spanish lor 'short,' " he said, adding that his small stature has been an advantage in mining, "I don't bump my head as much as the big guys."

lie first saw the mine of his dreams in 19:14, whIle working as a milling engineer in Idaho Springs, and it kindled in him a curiosity that burns as brightly today as it did ll<tlf a century ago.

"!l's been stuck UI my rrund all UM;C years. I've never quit thlnk-

ing I wanted to have a look down there."

The mine, called the Hi Dee, is in Gilpin County, about two miles southwest 01 Central City. ILs claim was patented in 1896, and it was lirst owned by a Virginia lamily and operated by a local mine foreman.

"The stories are thatthe loreman was high .. grading on them, but there are a lot 01 stories like that." (High-grading is smuggling small, rich chunks 01 ore out of a mine without telling the owners.)

"The shalt was nand-dug and cribbed wilh z-by-is," said Chapo. "1 know It produced gold m the early 19008 because I have re' cords of It, and I have plan 1I"'P>;

Pi __ CHAPO oo14-A

so minoowith 'old-timey operation:

GenCorp 01 Ohio chairman M.

Gerald O'Neil submitted his proposition to the union leadership and their financial consultant during a two-hour closed-door meeting Friday.

O'Neil, who controls 45 percent 01 Frontier stock, proposed the sale with a leaseback option - by Wednesday - of 25 Boeing 737s to United Airlines. Richard Ferris, president 01 United, ollered $265 million lor the planes, but set a Wednesday deadline lor acceptance 01 the deal.

As explained by O'Neil's lawyers to the employee representatives. the $265 million sale proceeds wotdd be used to buyout all 7,658 stockholders, pay olf some company debt and, In ellect, create an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) that would give the company to the workers and management.

Employees would have "majority" control, they were told Friday.

Frontier reportedly plans to lease all 25 planes Irom United

Please see FRONTIER on 14-A

Science, not thrills, aim of CU Peru trek

By Dana Parsons Denver Post St." Writer

BOULDER - In a stone-walled basement room at the University 01· Colorado, two scientlsts are planning the expedition of a life, lime and wishing people would quit asking them about Indiana Jones.

But if Indy lived in Boulder, he'd book passage on this one.

Over tile next several weeks, as the rains slacken in thejropical forests 01 Peru, CU scientists will accompany expeditionary teams into the South American country in search 01 pre .. Incan archaeological ruins and other scientific secrets,

By loot and by muleback, lip and down the slope, 01 the Andes and through the Jungle highlands, the scienusts will iY:gill to make good on the urst part 01 a Iive- year agreement between CU and the Peruvian gllvemment to study the area kuown as Gran Pajaten.

The tact lhat they are going mto an area that some previous explorers have said IS umnhabitable onJy adds to the luster a 1111 inevitable romanuuzmg 01 the expedition.

For III a very real sense, Indiana Jones and tus brrmrned-hat visage loom over this expedition.

As project. co-directors Tom Lennon and Jane Wheeler (ret over linJI details, th .. y insist tt,~ expedi-

To the layman, it sounds so much like Hollywood, Only better, because this drama of scientific discovery and danger will be real.

uon is about science. not adventure. About (he pursuit of knowle<igl', not the pursuit of movie righLs.

!l's Just that to lhe layman. it sounds so much like l lollvwood. Only better, because this drama of scientific discovery and danger will be real,

When Lennon, Wheeler, and ,I core group 01 about 3.'i others make the Peru trip over the next several weeks, there will be 110 IlW,1e SI'tS. no actors, no special df", I:" .. lid no drr ector iat cuta wa ys at moments of peni

Last year, when Luil'~J:i .. d,d three other Boulderues r(o[ 111 flel'

Denver Police Detective John W. Randolph discusses the local problem created by runaways and missing children. One walt of the missing persons bureau is plastered with pictures of missing children from Denver 'ilnd from around the nation.

Randolph said the Denver Police Department took 1,556 reports of runaways in Denver last year - 591 boys and 965 girls. In addition, the bureau received 22 reports of parents kidnapping their own children during custody battles. One possible stranger-abduction case still IS under Investigation.

Exaggerated statistics creating national paranoia

KIDS from I·A

porter of the 50,000 estimate, Child Find now says the actual number of stranger-abducted children is less than 600 per year.

The cases of children kidnapped hy st rangers on til,' with the Fill 'HId chiJdrt'lI's groups SIIOW an even smaller number.

The r'BI reports it had 67 cases of children kidnapped by strangers in 1984. The National Child Safety Council has 80 pictures of strangerabducted children in its national directory. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says it has firm records on 142 cases.

Center director Jay Howell said Ius personal estimate of the number of children who are victims of long-term abductions is "somewhere around 1,000 kids." and that the total number of aU stranger abo "actions - including I hose of a few hours or less - is bet ween 4,000 and 20,000.

Law enforcemenl and missing, children experts say that about 95 percent of missing children reports are on runaways. And most runaways return home within three days. The majority of the rest are children abducted in parental custody disputes. Only a small fraction are abducted by strangers.

"Some groups have given inflated figures out," Howell said. "I can't take responsibility for that."

'Impossible' figures

II igh figures used by various groups "are impossible," said Bili Carter of the FBf's public information bureau in Washington.

"More than 50,000 soldiers died in the Vietnam War. Almost everyone in America knows someone who was killed there," Carter said. "The numbers I've seen from missing child groups on abducted children range from 5,000 to 50,000. Do you know a child who has been abducted? That should tell you something right there."

lIis sentiment was backed up by law enforcement oflicials in Los Angeles, San francisco, New York and Denver and its suburban cities.

Lt. George Greenberg, who heads the New York Police Department's missing persons bureau, said, "Maybe those figures they are spouting out are scaring a lot of people. I once asked them where they got their figures, and they couldn't tell me."

The bottom line is clear - there are not tens of thousands of children snatcbed away each year to be beaten, tortured or murdered, the common perception of many parents who have lined up their ·~hildren for fingerprinting sessions and for classes on "Stranger Dan!;cr. "

I n Denver during the last eight weeks, 35,000 children have had their fingerprints taken in a grocery store and soft drink company campaign to help identity children who may be lost or stolen.

. Denver police say they have not recorded a single stranger-abduction death since the murder five years ago of two boys who apparently were abducted from a Denver home and found dead in an AI.1ams County field.

1n 1983, the last year tor which national figures. are available, there ware 897 murders of children under 15 reported til-the ~'BI, and studies indicate that the majority of these were committed by an acquaintance or relative of the child. One study, by the National Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., reported that 10 percent of child homicides are committed by strangers.

ID programs can give false sense of security

By Tho Denver POSI

The Iear of having a child abducted has driven parents to unusual measures to ensure the safety of their children.

Parents smear jet-black ink on their children's fingers to make fingerprints. shoot videotapes to capture a child's personality and mannerisms, buy insurance policies to pay for private detectives in case their children disappear and pay dentists to implant computer identification discs in their children's teeth.

Then, they breathe a sigh of relief. While identification programs may be helpful to parents of lost children, officials are quick to point out that the programs do not protect children.

HI think it tends to give parents a false sense of security," said Georgia Hilgeman of the CabIornia Vanished Children'S Alliancl' "I'eople are tending 1.0 go for very simpre solutions for very complex problems."

Said Denver Police LL Rudv S,lIIdov<J1:

"Those (programs) are only helpful after the fact. The best way to protect your cluld, is to know where they are all the time. If they want to go somewhere, you have to take them, pick them up or go with them yourself. otherwise, anything can happen."

MiSSing children: a nationwide

The number of missinq persons under 21 years old in the Un

Figures include runaways, parental abductions and str anqerj abducuons

Yet, hundreds of thousands of parents nationwide have come to believe that they are at high risk 01 having their children snatched by strangers - a paranoia that psychologists say is unhealthy.

Why has this paranoia been created?

"It's sad to say. but some organ~tions are exaggerating the ngures to make their cause seem more urgent," said 'John Gill, director otChildren's Rights of New York, a non-profit organization that helps find children abducted by a non- custodial parent. "Why, our schools should be empty if there were that many missing chilo dren."

Tbe situation in Colorado is Just as emotionaL

U.S. Rep. Dan Schaefer, a Lakewood Republican, went so far as to claim In a statement in the Congressional Record, "In. my home state of Colorado, over 11,000 children are listed as having been abducted."

Schaefer told The Denver Post he got the figures from the Arapa· hoe County Sheriff's Department. Investigator Lamar Mcl.eod said the department had no such figures, adding, HWe don't even have that many runaways stateWide."

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation currently lists 887 missing children in the state. Gray Buckley, head of the CBI's Crime Information Center, said that 95 percent

America's miSSing children

"""ile experts agree almost all of the missing reports involve runaways, the exactoerceotace is unclear. Although figures vary

from 90% to 99%, given The Denver Post indi.cate

that about 95% of involve runaway children. This chart

displays the average from these estimates.

4% Abducted by a parent

of the total "are not dl~on",a~."h_ ducted."

Colorado authorities trating on three kidnappings by Jonelle Mathews of

Miller of Idaho nifer Douglas of

after the 1981 death of Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old Florida boy who was a bducted from a shopping mall and later found beheaded.

His father, John Walsh, has led a national crusade to find missing children. His story was made into a television movie, which was rebroadcast two weeks ago. His efforts helped' create the national clearinghouse that tracks missing children.

Walsh's crusade has galvanized thenatlon, increasing awareness of the pr()blem. of missing children,

forcing law enforcement agencies to keep better records and helping reunite families With missing children.

Walsh, in testimony to Congress that was portrayed vividly in the movie, said that 1.5 million chilo dren are reported missing each year, and "we don't have clues to what happened to over 50,000 of them."

"This country is littered with mutilated, decapitated, raped and strangled children." he said.

Wa)sh, in a telephone interview with The Post, acknowledged that "there is no single, absolutely legitimate source for exact numbers."

He maintained the claim of 1.5 million missing children represents all missing-children reports that go into law entorcement computers each year. And, he said, "8,000 to 10,000 children are murdered each year, the majority in their homes:'

Specltk:s omitted

Those numbers reflect the confusion and complexity of missingchildren numbers that often fail to differentiate between the three types of cases: runaways, parental abductions and stranger abductions.

On one side, the FBI reports:

,_,.. Most of the approximately 330,000 missing children reported to the VBI every year are runawavs, and most of them are located quickly,

,_,.. There are (ewer than 30,000 open cases of missing children nationwide, including runaways, Children abducted by a parent and children kidnapped by strangers.

V' There are fewer than 100 active cases nationwide of children taken by strangers.

Meanwhile, children's groups are publicizing their own estimates.

.... Led by figures once touted by Child Find, dozens of groups around the nation report that 50,000 children a year are abducted by strangers. Carolyn Zogg, associate director of Child find, said she believes the figure "was pulled out of a hat."

,_,.. The Medicine Shoppe centers, a national pharmaceutical chain that last week promoted a national child-fingerprinting pro-

gram, said that each year,"approximately 20,000 or more (children) are abducted by a non-family member."

,_,.. Sen. Paul Simon, D-lll., in a letter to fellow members of Congress, said that "150,000 or more (children) are taken by estranged parents, thousands of others are abducted by strangers who want children for prostituuon. child pornography or other exploitive purposes. Some 4,000 are later found dead ... "

Those deaths would be J four times the number of all homicides. about 900, committed against chilo dren under 15 in the United Stales each year.

Roots of problem

Why has there been such inflation of missing-children statisucs" Part of the problem is how au· thorities report and trade staus tics.

Missing-children groups claim that the rBI and other taw enforcement agencies do not track missing children adequately. AI one lime, the ~'BI required evidence that a kidnapped child had been taken across state lines. The agency now investigates if any missing child cannot be found after 24 hours.

In March for instance, 27,48~ missing juvenile reports were entered in the FBI's computer, but by the end of March, 27,520 cases had been removed, including ones from prior months.

But some groups. in compiling missing-children figures, have taken a single month's worth of missing-children reports, multiplied that number by 12, and come up with more than 300,000 missing children.

"Most of the cases reported are cleared the next day," said CBI statistician Jim Borowski. "You know, the kid is found a couple of hours later. The ones in there the longest are the runaways.

"There are very, very few cases that are not runaways," Borowski said.

Some officials also say thai many children who have been 10' cated remain on the rolls of the missing because parents fail to notify authorities when their offspring are found.

James M. Wootton, deputy administrator of the office of juvenile justice and delinquency in the U.S. Justice Department, agreed that many of the figures have been inflated.

Inherent risk

But, he said, that could be oenencial. The publicity has "made a 101 of people aware that children an' at risk. but II could go too far, What shouldn't happen IS 10 ral';(' children's anxiety level to the point they don't trust adults."

Wootton is conducting the Iirst in-depth study of missing children to determine the exact numbers in several categories. He said it would be a year before definitive

figures are available. .

"Previous estimates were made on an analysis of numbers that were never solid to begin with," he added.

Yet, parents have made deciSIOns about their children based on those numbers.

"Parents read those figures and freak," said Hob LaCrosse, a Denver psychologist.

"The emotional impact is so profound and riveting, It attacks very basic fears. The parent-child relationship is a pretty primitive instinct. I worry about what these scare tactics are doing to our chilo dren."

Issue and debate

Sunday, May 12, 1985/Section G

Plight of missing kids hi

By Patrrck Yack

!Juno/I:! i-'Uht W",::;IlIngll)ll Bureau Cruet

Wt\SIIINGTON - Politl~al consultant Bob 'Squlcr says he probably made 300 telcvisron commercials last vcar for Democratic candidates- and causes. Ill' has no trouilk rcculung the most effective one.

The sput hl'!;ms with a scene of a lonely, barren Sidewalk. II litlle lJoy suddenly appears, As the boy walks down the Sidewalk, an announcer savs: "Every time we kiss t hem goodbye, a small part of us f,'ars it could be for the last time." Then the little boy abruptly vanIshes.

The announcer then describes the work of Paul Simon, the event ual winner in the race for U.S. S,'nate in Illinois. As a member of the House of Representatives, Simon had shepherded through Congress a bill aimed at helpmg state and local law enforcement agencies, and the fBI search for rrussuig children,

The advertisement ends with the little buy quickly reappearing.

Two reasons lor ad

There were two reasons for the ad. One was to illustrate Simon's effectiveness in Congress. The other was to appeal to young, suburban Ianuhes 'who were leaning toward incumbent Charles Percy, a Republican,

"It was one o( the simplest (ads), but it just seemed to have a profound effect on young parents," Squier said. "People are torn bet ween the raising of kids and their careers. They' feel that in some way their kids are (left) uncovered more than they were."

Althougt; Squier thinks his advertisement for Simon was the only political commercial of its kind last year, Squier says the nation's rnissmg children have "become a powerful issue" for politicians to cent end wrth.

Children gain auenuon

While the blluget, arms control, foreign allairx and "star wars"

dominate the Washington agenda, the plight of missing children has gained the attention of Congress and the White House.

Said one congressional aide, trying to sum' up the impact of the issue on politicians: "Missing kids is \he Apple gieof the '80s."

Two weeks .ago, in a ceremony at the White House, President Rea-

Publicity: Help or hin

Media can find a 'runner' or an abducted child

By Penny McCaulley

Police officers are very concerned, caring individuals who want to locate our missing children. However, because of lack of staff and money often their time and resources are limited.

Police officers have other duo ties in addition to locating missing children. One officer recently told me, "I have auto thefts and a murderer to locate, I don't ha ve time to devote to look only for your missing 5·year·old."

I believe him, and others, who say, "Priorities change and if a child is not located immediately, we cannot continue to search on an intensive daily basis. "

We currently are dealing with three types of missing children: parental abductions, runaways, and stranger kidnappings.

The general procedure has been to report the missing child to a local law enforcement agency. They, in turn, file a missing person report and list the chlld(ren) on the Colorado Crime Information computer. This information then is sent to all law enforcement agencies through

If we can save just one child through media isn't it worth i ?

Media from 1 G

child continue to be on the street? It has a severe impact on society. Often porno rings prey upon our young in this area, These youths also use drugs, steal, etc. - damage in human resources is paramount.

Children who are abducted by ex-spouses also are children at high risk. Not all, but a great rnajonty of children taken by exspouses are taken not out of love, but out of revenge. John Walsh, Iather of Adam Walsh, said one father of a 3-year--old murdered the child and pinned a note to her dress stating, "I found my wife childless and I am leaving her that way,"

Often these children come from incestuous backgrounds or severe abusive backgrounds, and there is great fear for the child, ·Even if the love is there, emotional damage is always done, The name changing, the hiding, not being able to see your father or mother takes its toll on young minds.

Stranger abductions are by far the most feared by parents. Not knowing where your child is or what they are going through is agony, How can you find your child? Where have they gone? How can you reach them?

A friend revealed that her 12- year-old nephew was kidnapped. They did not locate him until he was 21. He was in a porno ring and subsequently arrested and imprisoned,

lie revealed that he waited to be rescued, but no one came. He was told hi::; parents had sold him into

slavery and didn't want him, a period of time, he This young man proba spend the rest of his life bars,

This waste of lives - the of

manpower (money, etc.) - to prevent this waste is one of the

ry reasons we must the

news media. The media has terest and the funds to fill in of the gaps in the search nrr,,,,,,cc The press is invaluable in information to the public,

Children are found as a news coverage. According to Davidson, director of the

Walsh Foundation in ty, Calif., "Every time

movie film) is shown, found! "

When one of our "runners" shown on a Denver television uon, she turned herself in

said" "I was embarrassed saw myself on TV. I also 't think my mother cared, I saw she did, "

If we can save one <ttild the media isn't all this worth effort?

Maybe a child will be because an abductor sees the

in the press and is afraid the might tell authorities and it

lead to their arrest. The the child may have been de red, anyway. If some person murder a child, will hiding child from publicity ensure the child's safety? I think not.

I can only state that if I we . parent of a missing child I ! leave no area open to find my child,

politicians where they live

une" to report missing children after the pictures of 54 nussing chilo dren were shown,

The stories of kidnapped and runaway children are easily found among the pages of American history and folklore. Many are Iamiliar with the 'kidnapping case of young Charles Lindbergh. Most have read the adventures of 11 uck


But only recenl ly has Congress focused on missing children.

The most famous recent cases include Adam Wabh and the almost two dozen children who disappeared and then were found murdered in Atlanta bel ween 1979 and 1981.

"The issue of child exptouauon

dId not rt't'l'jVl' J1l1ll'tl uf d wurrn rccepuon [cur Yl'ar~ ago." Silld .l av Howell. the execuuve dm-ctor 01 lhe National Center for i\IISSII\., and ~;xplolted Children in Washm~' ton. Now, the issue has been adopted by scores of members of Congress. "It's probably because \11 the auenuon il has received III I hr media." said Howell, explauung the pouucat turnaround.

Process gaps weaken efforts for recovery

By Barbara K, Lindauer

The increased focus on the problem of missing chilo dren has highlighted the shortcomings of existing legislation and the lack of coordination among law enforcement and child recovery agencies.

Their efforts are fragmented and the results have not been evaluated.

To expedite the return of missing children, private foundations, corporations, and the media have been enlisted to aid the recovery efforts of the newly formed National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

These organizations also have been asked to offer prevention programs including safety tips to keep other children from becorning victims.

Cases involving both stranger abduction and kidnapping by a noncustodial parent are usually included in the missing child labeL

Examples of cooperation across public and private sectors include the coordination bet ween the National Child Safety Council and the missing children center.

Barbara K. Lindauer, a research scientist at the Denver Research Institute, is a nationally recognized expert in child abuse and parental kidnapping.

They have projects in 19 states 10 place photographs of missing children on milk cartons and to publish the council's toll free number for sighungs of missing children.

Similar to the milk carton campaign, an effort is being made to place pictures, the toll free number and safety tips on paper bags distributed through supermarket chains in the northeast and California.

The Missing Children's Network was formed independently

Please see Gaps on 3G

Data in crime computer

The Missing Chtlrtrenx Act was Signed into law III 19H2. II. authorized the entry of descriptive infor mation about missing children mio the VBl's national crime computer. The law also made it pm;slolt' for parents to request the FHl 10 enter the intormauon if local polrc« or state officials did not ask.

During debate over the bill, ['Oli' gress felt the sung of angry parents who were frustrated bv whai they felt were insensitive - police forces and federal law (';I(,)('('e· ment agencies.

While trying to strike a balance bel ween what was wanted and was possible, representatives often ~ were cnucized by parents who did not always agree with the shape

the legislauon was taking. For mstance, representatives did not pass provisions for parents to go directly to the VB! with missing children cases.

In early April, more than t IVO dozen House Democrats and Hepublicans told of lost children in their home districts. The speeches were broadcast over a special news and public affairs television channel. The entire Colorado delegation took part.

TV called effective

"Television is one of the most effective methods of communication, and I hope it will prove to be an effective tool in helping us to find these missing children," saul Rep. Mickey Edwards.

The Oklahoma Republican is hning up another series of speeches on missing children for lale May.

Missing children network hurt by lack of case documentation

Gaps from 1G

from a national network of nonprofit child recovery agencies. The network's operating money comes from licensing fees paid by 81 television stations which air 6O-second spots featuring photographs and tnformation on three missing children several times each week, In addition, posters featuring these children are distributed to local supermarkets for placement with other community service announcements.

Despite these efforts aimed at increasing community awareness as well as finding missing children, several key issues remain unresolved.

No initiative has been taken for documenting how missing children are idenWied by national groups, publicizied by the media and then

reported found. .

The lack of such information leaves serious gaps in our knowledge about the accuracy of reported recovery rates, characteristics of victimized children and their abo ductors, the effectiveness of the media in bringing about the safe return of missing children, and utilization of limited federal, state, and community resources,

To date, no nationwide or regional data base has been created for collecting information on the rate at which missing children are being returned, who finds them, procedures taken to help locate the child and types of organizations contacted by parents,

The Missing Children's Network has claimed an over 30 percent rea covery rate of children pictured in their media campaign. This figure

is considerably higher than the 10 percent previously reported recovery rate among children abducted by noncustodial parents and missing for longer than 6 months.

Current recovery figures may reflect duplicate reports filed by' parents at more than one agency. The disturbing statistic from the Missing Children's Network is that five of the almost 500 children advertised in a 46-week period were found murdered,

At this time, we have no means for determining if publicity through the media may have adversely affected some of the cases.

For example, children abducted by strangers may be more at risk because of the lack of emotional attachment between child and kidnapper.

Fearing criminal justice system involvement, the perpetrator may choose to do away with the child rather than risk any further contact.

On the other hand, publicity may enhance the return of some children, perhaps those who are abducted by parents andthose whose' cases receive media attention immediately following a snatching. The parent would then have less time to cover his or her tracks,

Without either the careful documentation of the processes involved in setting up an effective missing children's network or a data base using a standard procedure for documenting each child's case, our present efforts in recovering missing children may be minimally effective at best, and poten tialJy harmful at worst.

Child-abd ction worries excessive, area poll finds

By Cart MUler

Denver Post POlitical Editor

Copyright 19l!~ •. The Denver Post Corp.

Denver-area residents have developed an exaggerated view of the seriousness of child abduction - apparently because of extensive media coverage of the subject, a Denver Post poll shows.

The extent to which metropolitan Denverites misunderstand the extent of the problem showed up most clearly when they were asked to . estimate how many children have been abducted by strangers in Colorado during the past year.

A vast majority - 76 percent - said they believe more than 25 children are kidnapped by strangers in the stale annually, and one-fourth of them assumed the number to be

higher than 100. '

But law enforcement agencies say they currently are concentrating on three possible child-abduction cases in Colorado. Although estimates vary, several lawenforcement agencies and missing children's groups say the national


.phart of poll results, Page


• Media helped publicize

inflated fi9U. res, Page 10-A. • Reports spawn efforts to C sh in, Page 1 O-A.

. num~r of child kidnappings by stra gers is less than 1,000 per year

F y 91 percent of the people in the enver area t.Old The Post pollsters they have become more concerned about child abduction during t~e past year, and almost half of th families with children under 12 h ve taken advantage of an ide~'fication program [or their yo un sters,

In the last eight weeks alone, 35, youngsters have had their ring rprints and photos taken in local ~ocery stores.

Y t only 6 percent of those polle said they personally knew of a pa ent who has had a child ab-

dueled by a stranger.

Almost everyone. however. has seen news stories 011 tile subject of missing children.

The Post poll was conducted by Talmey Associates, a Boulderbased market research and public opinion firm. The poll surveyed 409 residents of the six-county Denver metro area by telephone May 5 through May 8. Paul Talmey said the scientific, random sampling has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

Talmey said the high percentage of people who have an (>xilggerateli opinion about the problem shows that the "misperception has been so pervasive that it has become a reality in their minds.

"We don't see many polls that show such a tremendous misperception," said Talmey. This situation, he said, obvious!" results from the intensive television and advertising campaigns in recent months.

"It sure shows the influence of the media," he said.

20:\ TI1(' [),'ll\"l'l' PIl;.;t:\\\·dnt'sda,v. Au!!, 7, HIM;,



~ ..\'(1111'" vl irror

1>.1 ,,'" 'I,,;p~r

Hichard T. Schl""ht'rJ;: III, j'lJhli'l/lt'r

, .

David Hall. EJitor

Anthony tI, Campbell, ManllPn1 Editor Chuck Green. Editorial Psg« Edi or

, SUl' 1". Smith .. ,t>;"ociatl' Editor -Williarn H, Hornby, Senior Ediu r

Our missing children

IN GOVEHNMENT, a pseudoproblem can sometimes become a menace, simply by diverting society's resources away from real problems.

Such is the case with the "missing children" scare, which has greatly exaggerated the danger of children being kidnapped by strangers, while virtually ignoring the real needs of children exploited in custody disputes and youngsters who are runaways.

Estimates of the number of children stolen off the streets have dropped dramatically in recent months, from 50,000 to fewer than 1,000, largely as the result of an investigative report published by The Denver Post in May. That report, given national exposure by a recent CBS News broadcast, revealed that 95 percent of the 1.5 million children who have been reported missing in recent years were runaways - many of whom return horne within days - and nearly all of the remaining 5 percent were snatched up by parents in divorce-custody cases.

Now a U.S. senator is planning to look into the controversy. lIe intends to determine the degree to which the inflated statistics on abducted children have discouraged attempts to deal with what may be a more serious and wide-

spread problem - the c buse of children by non-strangers.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, one of the leading congressional advocates of c~dren's rights, has scheduled a f uvenile

Justice SUbCO. mmittee hefring .in Louisville in two weeks. A later

hearing may take place i Washington.

We hope the proceedings will help focus public attentio~m on the' problems of runaways, w 0 often end up in a frightening no-man's land between home, wh re they may face physical, sexual or psychological abuse from th}ir parents, and the streets, wh re they may be similarly exploite by society's misfits.

The congressional inve tigation could well result in a chl nge of direction at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which was founde~ at the height of the national out~ry and has since concentrated on the specter of stranger abd ctions. The inquiry also shou d help determine whether funds . iven to the center and other sue agencies have been well-spent

On a deeper level, McC nnell's questioning could engend r some healthy skepticism abo t estimates in general, and crime statistics in particular.

Fingerprinting folly

CA U G HT UP in the nationwide scare over missing children,' millions of parents have had their kids fingerprinted. Now it seems evident that the practice has been a pointless waste of time. Not a single kidnapping victim, according to the FBI, has been identified through fingerprints. Nor does it seem likely any will be.

In the first place, law-enforcement records indicate that the number of bodies of children left unidentified - ,after accidents as well as crimes - has been wildly exaggerated. The true figure is probably fewer than 100 - far below the 2,000 to 5,000 once estimated, Furthermore, such corpses are often so badly decomposed by the time they're found that it's impossible to obtain a: usable set of prints from them.

All the effort put into fingerprinting programs might be justiIied if the potential benefit of matching a couple of bodies with a couple of names outweighed the risk of causing psychological harm to millions of kids.

But let's face it. The printing

process is bound to provoke nightmares. Many youngsters' volved realize that the only reas n why their hands are being inked is that someday their heads mf, zht be chopped Off.' making it im ossible to identify their bodies tough dental records.

Now and then a deca~itatiOn does occur, as the Adam Walsh case showed. But it doesn't happen often enough to j ustify putting a generation of young AmjriCanS t.hrough a procedure norm' llY. reserved for criminals.

The latest evidence s ggests that the number of Childr~n abducted by strangers each ear is under 1,000 - or considera ly less than the 1,200 who drown in riv-

ers, lakes and swimming po fils.

To respond to this su posed

"crisis" by taking finge rints makes about as much se~se as measuring children for llathing suits instead of teaching I them how to swim. It would be more effective, and far less traumatic, to deal with the kidnapping threat by showing kids how to keep themselves out of trouble.




Voice ot the Rocky Mountain Empire



, I


Richard T. Schlosberg III, Publisher

David Hull, bailor

Anthony H, Campbell, Managing Editor Chuck Green, Editorial Page Editor

Sue F. Smith, Associate Editor

William H. Hornby, Senior Editor

Ivfissing children

THEIR FACES stare out at us from TV screens, milk cartons and bulletin boards. They are today's "wanted" - the subjects of a nationwide search seemingly as urgent as the quest for a cure for cancer.

Some 1.5 million children are reported missing each year in the United States. An estimated 95 percent are runaways, and most of the remaining 5 percent are abducted by divorced parents in custody disputes.

,: Nobody knows how many children are kidnapped by strangers, because some are reported missing more than once, some never show up on computerUsts and others are never removed when they turn up safe. But a close look at the best available data leaves little doubt that the number of such abductions is far, far less than the 50,000 once cited by alarmed citizens' groups, and almost certainly is less than 1,000.

Indeed, figures compiled by the FBI and other agencies suggest the total number of kids stolen by strangers from sidewalks, schoolyards or shopping centers may be as low as 100 - fewer than the number of preschoolers who choke to death on food each year.

Despite their rarity, though, cases like the Adam Walsh kidnapping in Florida, so horrifyingly dramatized in a TV movie, have become an American preoccupation in much the same way as the hostages in Iran five years ago. Three separate hearings on missing children are scheduled in Congress in the next week alone.

Certainly. families whose children vanish under mysterious circumstances deserve all the help that law-enforcement and socialservice agencies can give them. And certainly parents should not be discouraged from safeguarding, their offspring by having their fingerprints taken and teaching them to be wary of people they don't know.

But it also must be said that the risk of abduction by strangers has been greatly exaggerated, chiefly by the widespread practice of putting all missing children into the same statistical basket.

Lists of the missing typically make no distinction between the toddler who disappears from the doorstep of a happy home, the third-grader who vanishes the night before a custody hearing and the teenager who flees from a family beset by drugs, alcohol or violence.

The agencies that compile such lists, as well as the media that publicize them, must do a better job of identifying truly "legitimate" kidnappings. The cases in which a child's life may be threatened must be separated from those in which his safety is of less concern than his whereabouts.

The public attention devoted to the real but overstated danger of being kidnapped by strangers har had two serious side-effects. NUl only has it poisoned the normally trusting relations between children and adults, but it has .averted time and resources fr-:n. problems that may pose a far greater menace to society.

The Justice Department reported earlier this month that the NCl' tional Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in the year or so since it was established' by Congress, has assisted in the recovery of more than 800 youngsters. Of those, nine were abducted by strangers, 134 were snatched by parents and 685 were considered "voluntarily" missing.

It should be obvious that runaways, who show up in overwhelming numbers on the roll-call of the missing, may face far greater dangers on the streets than children smuggled into the homes of non-custodial parents. One federal study estimated that 20 percent of all runaways put their lives in jeopardy by getting involved in activities that range from panhandling to prostitution.

Many such children, quite und- ' erstandably, prefer the uncertain dangers of life on the lam to the guaranteed prospects of being raped by their stepfathers or slapped around by their mothers. Yet the public response to their plight is curiously askew.

Officials who ought to know better demand that runaways either be locked up in juvenile detention halls or returned to their homes, where in many cases they may face physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

Moreover, the volunteers who turn out en masse to man the hotlines during highly publicized missing-children broadcasts rarely see the insides of shelters for the homeless, where runaways are provided with food, lodging and counseling 24 hours a day.

No caring person should feel comfortable until the public perception of "missing" children is expanded to include the kids who are thrown away, as well as those who are picked up.

_ 1

Parent abductors

life a nightmare of despair

By Diana Griego Denver Post StaN Writer

Van Pace of Lakewood leaned over the crib and tucked a flannel blanket around her 15-month-old son.v.l.J."

She felt sure that in a divorce court hearing the next day she would be granted full custody,

Mrs, Pace bent over and kissed the infant goodnight.

It was the last lime she saw her

child, .

Many such cases

Thousands of other parents have similar stories about their exspouses and abducted children, although there are no definitive studies to say how many times it happens,

For Mrs, Pace, a 36-year-old government employee, it is three years and more than $30,000 later, yet she is no closer to finding J erritt "J,J," Pace than she was on March 4, 1982 - the day Leamon "Chet" Pace Jr. decided to take the law into his own hands,

About I :30 a.m., the insurance salesman cut a hole in the back door window, II e used a dart. with a rubber suction cup to keep the glass from falling through and waking Mrs. Pace and her lfi-yearold daughter from a previous marriage.

Once hl' got into the house, he grabbed hIS steeping son from the crib and ran out into the stormy night.

Mrs. Pace awakened when she beard the front door slam shut.

"I called the police, but they said there was nothing they could do because custody had not been

established. "

Colorado legal experts say felony kidnapping charges cannot be filed against a parent abductor if the abduction occurs before custody has been decided.

"Unfortunately, a lot of lawyers are encouraging their clients to take off with the child before the custody hearing - because once they've crossed state lines the search. beCQmes really hard," said Byrnece Gluckstern, Arapahoe County Di~ct Court's chief of domestic relations.

However, when custody already , has been decided, kidnapping by a non-custodial parent is a felony in Colorado.

In Mrs. Pace's case, she had to attend the custody hearing the next day and establish custody before the search for her son could begin.

After the hearing, she called her ex-husband's parents in North Carolina. They told her that their son was on his way to Australia with Jerritt.

"I went into shock and they had to call an ambulance for me," Mrs. Pace said. "My child was being taken out of the country and he wasn't even boule-broken."

For years, Mrs. Pace has tried to track the whereabouts of Chet and Jerritt. She has helped law enforcement officials follow leads, hired private investigators, made and circulated posters of Jerritt, had restraining orders placed on Jerritt's birth and medical records and tracked Chet Pace's car and Social Security records.

In December 1983, she received a tip from one of her ex-husband's relatives that Chet and Jerritt

get back at their ex-spouse, rather than out of love and concern for the child.

. "It's really sad, but the abductor parent just wants power, the last word over the ex-spouse," said Barbara Lindauer, a research psychologist at the University of Denver's Research Institute.

A 1980 national study by J .S. Wallerstein and J.B. Kelly characterized parental kidnappers as "a group of men and women whose hatred Is so intense, and their wish for righteous vindication so desperate, that nothing seems to stop them from pursuing their goals. n

Said Mrs: Pace: "Chet dldn't do this because he wanted Jerritt so badly. He did this out of spite. That was his way of being able to get revenge for a marriage that went sour."

Jerritt's abduc-.. The toughest part for Mrs. Pace Is not knowing what her son looks like because he now is 4Jh. "If I passed him on the street, I wouldn't know it was him," she said.

"I have this recurring nightmare about It. In the nightmare, Chet is standing in a doorway and he's telling me, 'If you can pick out J erritt, he can go with you.' I open the door to a room full of lillie boys and I keep going from one boy to the next boy, but I can't pick him out because I don't know what he looks like.

"Sometimes I feel like this will never end and sometimes I have to stop searching for awhile. But I'll never quit looking for my son. I look for him everywhere I go."

S_kewed figures, repeat . : distort records of Colorado

-_. __ - .. _ _-----

STATE from 1-A

!1"1 « hcn nfflcwl'i aI''' nk,'d "(lOul lil .. rJlllnllers, they tell a storv of Infl<Jled and misunderstood flgun"s.

Aubrey McCann, a nussuig person deu-rtive WIth the Denver Police l.iepartment, leaned back in !us second-story office at pollee headquarters and said, "Right now. We have no evidence thal tl""·,, are an)' stranger-abducted cJllidrl'n ill Denver." One case, the July disappearance of Jennifer Douglas, IS listed as an unknown.

Lakewood and Aurora report no stranger-related kidnappings last year.

Of course, there are tragic exceptions. The parents of Beth Miller in Idaho Springs still wait for word on their daughter who disappeared while jogging in 1983. In Greeley, there is a major community effort to find missing Janelle Matthews.

And almost everyone in Colorado recalls the case of Loti Poland - a 3-year-Old abducted in 1983 and left for dead in a mountain outhouse. After Lori was found alive, public attention in Colorado was focused on the problem of missing children.

Fortunately, very few of Colorado's Children are abducted and harmed.

Why then the huge figures? Primarily, it IS the way records are kept.

First, the missing children figures include cases of suspected runaways. Experts estimate runa-

0% Stranger abductions

Jennifer Anne Douglas,

majoriare abby a parnot by a reported 22 "cusyear.

the crime misused and ttiem. At the conducted

e the double reporting of also have who return

The Denver Peat/ Susan Biddle Van Pace plays with her 2-year-old daughter. Brandle. She fears her ex-husband, who abducted their 15-month-old son Jerritt in March 1982 and remains at large, might attempt to abduct her daughter.

Jonelle Matthews Beth Ann Miller

Call them runaways - or

Tne penvee Poet I SUNn Biddle Counselor John Burtness says chronic runaways 'are running away from something.'

ways make up 90 to 99 percent of the total.

Indeed, some don't return home and can meet harm on the street. They pose a real problem for society. However, authorities say 9 out of 10 do return home, most within three days.

Another problem is that the slate reports contain numerous cases of chronic, repeat runaways.

Denver's McCann said that the majority of cases he investigates in the city involve children "who have run away many times."

Even though it is the same child running away, each lime he or she leaves, it is counted as a separate case in the state's computer.

Authorities in Colorado and

By Diana Griego Denver Post SiaN Writer

Last week, It-year-old Susie was kicked out of her mother's Denver home.

She spent the night at City Park until she was picked up around midnight by a security guard. He called police, but because she was too young to be placed in most runaway shelters, they took her home.

Susie's mother promised the offlcers the child could stay,

By 3 a.m., Susie was back in the park again.


Thirteen-year-old Brian was visiting his grandfather for the day and returned late that night to his home in Denver,

The house was empty; his family and their funilture were gone,

A neighbor told him they had moved to Los Angeles.


Sixteen-year-old J ewell bas lived in halfway houses, group homes and runaway shelters since she was about 14-

Before that, she was on the street.

"When I was little, both my parents drank too much and never paid me much attention," she said. "I was taking care of my dad and mom. Cooking for them, putting them to bed after they came home drunk. They weren't taking care of me."

Her father started sexually abusing her when she was about 10,


Beth Ann Miller, 15, Idaho Springs: Missing since Aug. 16, 1983, she was last seen jogging· along a road near her home. She has blond hair and blue or green eyes. Police are convinced she is not a runaway. She is 5 feet 4 inches taU and weighs 105 pounds.

3 Coloradans listed as abducted children

By The Denver PI)&t

Thers an' three Colorado children listed in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's "National Stranger Abducted Chilo dren Directory." The center, a federally mandated clearinghouse for information on missing children, furnishes the photographs, biograpmcal information and screens the cases. -


Janelle Matthews, 13, Greeley: Disappeared from her home after singing in a school choir Dec. 20, 1984. A friend and the Iriend's father who gave her a ride home saw her safely into the house. When her father came home about an hour later, she was gone. Matthews is 5 feet 3 inches tall, with brown hair and eyes, She' wears braces and weighs about 115 pounds.


Jennifer Anne Douglas, 18, Denver: Reported missing July 16, 1984, after she told her mother she was going for a bicycle ride. The East High School straight-A student was last seen tiding along Monaco Parkway. Friends and family' maintain she's not a runaway. "She's not that kind of girl," a close friend said. Douglas is 5 feet tall, with blonde hair and green eyes, and weighs 87 pounds.

(Texas teenager Christopher James Harvey disappeared in COlorado while he and his family were on vacation. Now 16, the youth was last seen July 11, 1984, near his family's trailer at the edge of the Sanjuan National Forest, An extensive search of the area by Hinsdale County.authorttres turned up nothing.)

ways - they all need to escape

contact with ... between and girls, and said. "That I'm not used like that."

chronic runaways are fleeing a home life they no longer can face because of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

"The vast majority ·of missing children are runaways.. but that's not the problem the media's been addressing," said Jim Oleson, the director of Ogden House, a runaway shelter in Denver. "Society can accept there's someone terrible out there taking all these chilo dren. The fact that the problem is in the family, in the home, well, that's more than they can face."

Counselors working directly with runaways say problems within the family must be addressed if the nation's runaway problems are to be solved.

"In my experience, the largest percentage of (chronic) runaways are running away from something," said Chrysalis counselor John Burtness. A smaller percentage, Burtness added, run away "just for independence."

Chrysalis is a 100bed residential shelter in Denver that offers therapy and guidance to runaway girls, especially ex-prostitutes. Jewell lives there and considers it a haven.

Law enforcement officials and missing children experts say twothirds or more of runaways return home within three days.

Of the chronic runaways, the children that no longer can face their problems at home, many get drawn into the subculture of the streets - where Burtness counsels

all have someOffiCially, they For some, the more accurate, dilemma Is

running to they need to

constitute missing chil-

say. The NaMissing and Exin Washington, are up to 1

to law across the

majority of

run a ways on their own turf through Chrysalis' outreach program.

"Runaways are very vulnerable to becoming involved in it all - prostitution, drugs, sexual abuse and crime," Burtness said. "There's really 110 way to escape it. They're usually too young to get jobs, so they hit the streets."

However, Jerry Paulsen, director of Denver Social Services' Family Crisis Center, said the city offers several programs to counsel both runaways and their families.

Besides separate boys' and girls' shelters, there also is an ernergenCy shelter for neglected and abused children up to age 12, he said.

Denver police recorded 1,556 juvenile runaway cases in 1984. However, some of those are duplicate cases because the same juvenile may run away several times in one year.

"The number of individual runaways is probably closer to about 2,000," said Denver missing persons Detective John Randolph.

Randolph said the department does not track cases according to the reason the child ran away.

.. Each one you talk to has a di{ terent problem," Randolph said. "It could be anything: drugs, alcohoi, pressures at home, abuse or just the excitement of change and freedom."

e reporters

'The Truth About Missing Children" is the result of an ex'tensive Posl investigation into the apparent rampant abduction of thousands of children by strangers.

Post reporters Diana Griego and Louis Kilzer spent weeks interviewing law enforcemenl officials. missing children's groups, psychotoqists and other missmo children experts In Colorado and across the country,

Griego, 25, has specialized in writing about human interest stories for The Post.

Kilzer. 33, an award-Winning Post reporter, most recently



covered the invesligation into the slaYing of talk show host Alan Berg. He is the father 01 two children, ages 5 and 8 months.

helped publicize inflated data

a weekly series of 2-minute reports on missing children, which continue on many NBC affiliates, including Denver's KCNC, Channel 4. The station broadcasts the reports Tuesdays at noon and 5 p.m.

Syndicators seize issue

TV syndica tors seized the Issue.

The Missing Children Network, a production house in Dayton, Otuo, sprung up to send pictures and descriptions of missing children to TV stations and accept calls about lhem on a toll-tree BOO number.

So far, 92 stations have signed on the "net work," buying lhree l-rninute reports per week at fees varying by market size. Locally, KUSA, Channel 9, has the exclusive contracl.

According to Missing Children Network President Don Prijatel, "we estimate as many as 150,000 stranger abductions as well as noncustodial parental abductions a year," based on reports from local

search groups. .

PIijalel acknowledges "there is no accurate way of estimating," but claims that, of 442 kids shown on the network in its first year, 195 were reported located, 45 of them thanks to the on-air series.

NBC's Denver affiliate, KCNC, has incorporated the "missing" theme in on-air spots, running 10- to-12 4-second "IDs" daily. The promotional spots name an average of nine missing Coloradans per day.

Reagan aid enlisted

NBC enlisted President Reagan's aid last month when "Adam" aired for the third time. Reagan made an on-air appeal to the public to use a "hotline" after the roll call of 54 kids' pictures.

According to NBC, six children were found as a result, bringing to 40 the number whose recovery is attributed (by the network) to the three broadcasts and the one-hour special, "MISSing: Have You Seen This Person?"

The National Center for Missing

and Exploited Children in Washing· ton, D.C., recerved 7,482 calls WithIn four nights of the broadcast, 1,755 of them claiming sightings of missing children.

Local broadcasters say they are providing a valuable public service that has led to reuniting children with their parents, They also acknowledge they are retying on estimates that may be overstated and are SUbject to distortion.

Newspapers also have been caught up in missing-children issue ami the statistical contusion.

Denver Post columnist Trisha Flynn, in September 1982, noted that "each year, 50;000 to 100,000 children - children who are not runa ways or the objects of parental kidnappings - disappear." She attributed the figures to testimony of John and Reve Walsh before a House Judiciary subcommittee.

Walsh interviewed

A Denver Post feature story, in February 1985. based on an interview with Walsh in Denver, said, "There will be 1.5 million children missing this year."

The same week. the Rocky Mountain News interviewed Walsh and reported that "nearly 2 million (children) are reported annually as missing; most are arbitrarily listed as runaways."

USA Today devoted an entire page to the issue on May 1. An editorial proclaimed that the "problem is no myth" - claiming, "Strangers steal as many as 20,000 children a year."

According to the editorial wnter, who asked that his name not be mentioned, that figure came from the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington.

Channel 4 news director Man' Rockford said, "There is no good handle on what the number IS because there is no good defirution for what a missing chud is. Fifty thousand is the number that gets bandied about. The problem is, if

you do a name-by-name investiganon, you won fwd out a lugh num ber are parental kidnapping cases or suspected teenage runaways."

By Joanne Ostrow Denver POSI T el6V1$10n-A 10 crec Copyright 1985, The OenV9 Pool Corp.

Missing children came a com-

pelling media subje4t in the 19305 when the Lindbergh baby case dominated newspaper headlines.

The kidnapping 31ld murder of Charles Lindbergh's 2-year-old son, called the crime of the century, touched off an epi emic of fear that wasn't matched until presentday concern over mi ing children.

In 1982, a fictiona CBS movie, "Missing Children: A Mother's Story." was praised b critics as a melodramatic tug t the heartstrings. The 1983 feature film "Without a Trace' was wellreceived in movie ho ses.

But neither rock d the nation like "Adam." NBC's factual miniseries that has had three broadcasts in 18 months.

Telecast gets help

The original telecast of "Adam." in October 983, was coupled with local statlon coverage, features on "Real p~Ple" and the appearance of Adam' father, John Walsh, on Phil Don hue and the

talk-show circuit. ~

N (,wop. a. pers na tio wide, including The Denver Post followed up

by writing about the emotional issue of missing childr n and seizing ori local examples t, underscore the families' horror d pain. National and local medial- both print and broadcast - commonly used high .. unconflrmed numl bers 10 dOC.umenung the issue.

While newspapers and TV stations around the natipn have said more than I million c . dren disappear a year and 50, of \bern are abducted by strange s, the documented figures are uch smaller. The FBI computer shows that about 28,000 children are missing. The FBI IS mvesuga g 67 cases as stranger abductio .

With "Adam," the ssue was ignited.

Arter the first br adcast, the five NBC-owned TV s auons began



Larger [jgures used

Last year, Channel 4 reporter Peter Rogot looked at the 1,00(, plus unresolved juvenile cases in the state and, after determining the circumstances of the disappearances, came up WIth a relative handful of cases that were truly incxphcable disappearances. gut the larger figures ha ve been most publicized,

"There is something of a dislortion when you say 50.000 cases," Rockford acknowledged. "That doesn't mean there isn't real emotional distress and that they're not deserving of coverage on televi-· sian."

II e said that TV stauons are caught in a "whipsaw." They are under intense community pressure to publicize what are considered \1- tal issues, like missing ctuldren. But they run the fisk of being accused of capitalizing on the issue to increase ratings.

"You can't win." said Rockford.

Channel 7 news director Arta Boley IS "not sure there can be too much coverage" of the rrussing ctuldren issue, but adds, "110'" much good it does is another question." As a grandmother, she says. "I'm torn about It "

She draws an analogy to the extensive coverage of child abuse Which, some experts say, risks making children paranoid.

Channel 9 news director DICK Mallarv said that the emotion associated with the missing-children ISsue can seem to cast its shadow over the entire newscast. In fact, he said, the station's ainng of 1\-2· minute missing-children reports three times a week is a public service that is only a small fraction of the station's 23 hours of weekly news programming.




(n NO 9%


OVER 1000 2%




. .


8 NO 7%


Kid fingerprinting a sham, foes claim

He said he does not encourage the fingerprinting programs because "the chances of them being used are minimal."

However, Dr, Marcella Fierro, deputy chief medical examiner for central Virginia and a missingchild expert, said more time is needed before judgment is passed on the programs, "I'm not convinced the system has been tested," she said, noting that few prints have been given to the FBI's ldentification section.

Fingerprinting programs ern~rged two years ago when the nation began to focus on what some oups called an epidemic of child

bductions in the United States.

John Walsh, a leader of the ovement, warned that "no town safe - no child is safe - from e sick, sadistic molesters and

. ers who roam our country at andom."

"This country is Uttered with utilated, raped, strangled little hildren," Walsh said.

Various groups and government Ificials estimated that between ~,OOO and 5,000 unidentified children

Eere buried each year in the UnitStates,

Fueled by those numbers, parnts by the millions began lining up heir children in front of police staions and grocery stores to have

heir kids fingerprinted.

The numbers that brought about e first programs have since been fhallenged by both law enforce-

rent officials and missing-children xperts,

stlmates criticized

Dr. Herbert Derman, president the. College of American Pathol~~~, c_ommented last year that ~gh estimates of murdered children were not only overstated, but dangerous.

I "While even one unidentified murdered child is one too many, ~gonized parents of a missing child hould not be faced with such a . gh figure. It Derman said.

Given the numbers, Spock connded that money spent on fingerI rinting and other programs is ofen wasted.

"I don't think children should ow up scared of strangers," he ·d.

Rabun gave begrudging approval to part of Speck's campaign. "Spock may have added a corrective to those programs which have gone about it willy-nilly, telling parents that there is never any downside to this ... Like fingerprinting is almost like a blessing from God. That's just as deceitful as can be," he said.

Cincinnati pathologist Dr. Ross Zumwalt, a member of a special missing-children committee of the College of American Pathologists, said he knows of no cases in which the prints have helped identify bodies of kidnap victims.

Few unIdentffled

One reason, he said, is because there are so few unidentified bodies. In a report to be released this week, the college reports that . there were 68 unidentified bodies

of children under 18 In 1983 in its study covering half of the nation's population. How many were kidnap victims was not specified.

Fingerprints could have aided in only a few of the identifications because many remains were skeletal, Zumwalt said.

John Rabun, deputy director of the National Center for Missing and' Exploited Children, defended the fingerprinting campaign while acknowledging that it has seldom resulted in an identification.

"I would have to say it's pretty miniscule," he said. "I feel sure I can find you some. But it's going to be few in number. It

"I don't give a damn if there's none," Rabun added. "The standard of judgment should not be, in my thinking, whether or not an (identification) has been made."

More important, he said, is that the fingerprinting programs have focused parental concern on the dangers of atxluctions. He said he does not think that fingerprinting and other programs have scared young children.

Critics are challenging that view.

Lt. Richard Schoenberger, head of the juvenile section of the Michigan State Police, said there already is too much parental concern about missing children. A study conducted by his department showed that fewer than 1 percent of children reported missing were victims of a stranger abduction,

"We found that the chances of a stranger abducting a child were so minimal that parents should not be tethering their children to the front

"~~ rn ,t

By Louis Kifzer Denver Post Slaff Writer

Nationwide programs to fingerprint-millions of American children have been unsuccessful in identifying youths abducted by strangers, according to reports from child groups and law enforcement agencies.

Advocates said the effort, which has resulted in the fingerprinting of more than 60,000 Colorado children in one supermarket program alone, is too new to be judged.

But critics said the program is a sham that h1S needlessly frightened children.

Child doctor Benjamin Spock, a leading opponent of the programs, said children most likely to be fingerprinted..fall in an age group that has the "most morbid imagination" about death and torture.

The impression given children, Speck said in an interview, is that "children are being abducted all the lime and that this child mighl be next."

Children, Spock contended, understand that fingerprints are used to identify victims of violent death. II e said the emotional trauma that results far outweighs any value that might come from the identification effort.

Critics of the fingerprint programs said their position is bolstered by a new study indicating that there are fewer than 200 bodies of children which remain unidentified each year. In fact, the study said, 68 were reported in 1983.

Those figures are down from estimates as high as 5,000 just l \\'0 years ago.

Critics also said there is little proof that fingerprinting could help solve most of the existing cases.

FBI officials said last week that they knew of no. cases in which the fingerprinting program helped identify the body of a kidnap victim. Three children who died in the Delta air crash at Dallas three months ago, however, were identified through a child fingerprinting program, the bureau said.

Missing-child reports bring out best, worst

Sy Louis Kilzer and Diana Griego Denver Post StaH wnters

Copyright 1985, The Denver Post Corp.

The missing-children phenomenon has brought a rush of well-intentioned businesses, newspapers, television stations and civic groups eager to help find missing children.

Businesses have lent their corporate names to the cause of finding missing children.

About 750 dairies now print photos of missing children on their milk cartons, and more than 100 utility companies include the pictures on their customers' bills. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has started its own "Safe Kids" promotion, and the Pittsburgh Pirates show missing ctuldren photos on their Diamond Vision screen at home games. The pictures also will be distributed in 8 million copies of Archie Comics in a program that began this month.

Inevitably, however, there have been attempts to cash in on the fears of millions of parents.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, sheriff's officials say a "Find the Children" program there stopped shortly after investigators found evidence the manager had intended to divert funds for a mercenary mission in Central America.

Companies are marketing "homing devices" that electronically keep tabs on the whereabouts of children. Dentists in metropolitan Denver are implanting computet "identification" discs in children's teeth. At least one insurance firm is selling missing-child insurance to help parents pay private detective fees if their children should disappear.

That outpouring, especially the intense publicity generated by newspapers and television, is causing concern among some psychologists and missing-person experts.

"The fear is not justified," said Richard Ruffino, a board member of the National Center lor Missing and Exploited Children. "A lot of things have been blown out of proportion. Everybody is cashing in on our children."

Some mental health experts say part of the anxiety about having a child abducted is the product of media hype, while others believe it might reveal an underlying national neurosis.

Tapping into guilt

Dr. Robert LaCrosse, a Denver psychologist, says shifting American lifestyles and child-rearing habits might have helped to fuel the fears. "One of the shifts that happened is working mothers and children in day care. I wonder if the whole issue of not being home may be tapping into (hidden) guilt."

Another psychologist, Dr. Jack Mclnvoy of Aurora, said the news media are aimost entirely to blame. "It wouldn't have entered my mind if I didn't pick up the paper each morning or look at TV and see the number of kids being snatched."

Jay Howell, director of the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, also blames the media.

"I can't help it that your colleagues got excited by photos on milk cartons," he said.

The consequences can be grim.

Melnvoy said it is healthy for children to trust adults, but that fear of strangers has tainted that trust.

"I'm a normal, friendly adult," said Mclnvoy. "When I see a child III the store, l norrnatlv say hello to them. Now I'm told· thai's unacceptat.l, "

Phone solicitations

In Florida, law enforcement officials are investigating a private concern that calls itself "The Bureau of Missing Cluldren." Critiriled for having hired ex-cons as managers, the bureau uses telephone solicuauon to raise money.

And New York-based Child Find, the nation's largest missing-children organization, last year agreed to temper Its claims after the state's attorney general said it was misrepresenung some of its programs.

Police departments across the nation have received reports that some private detectives have overcharged and under-represented distraught parents searching for lost cluldren.

It is all part of a tidal wave of concern that has swept across the nalion, earned along by comrnerCial Interests, including the media.

Some businesses play to the concorns of nareutx.

'The Denver Post/Sunday, September 22, 1985

Public often not told Iftcts in missing-children : es

By Louis Kilzer Denver Post StaH Wriler

Most of the missing children pictured in Denver newspapers, city buses and television screens are youngsters caught up in bitter custody disputes - not kids snatched by'

strangers. .

Although the true nature of the cases iii. ,known to organizations' supplying the pictures to businesses and the news media, the facts seldom are passed on to the public.

The alarm over child abductions by strangers has fueled the missing-children issue in Congress and across the nation, but several major children organizations recently have shifted their emphasis to parental ktdnappings, saying that is the greater problem.

However, that shift has gone largely unnoticed in the daily barrage of pictures of , sn:tall children who are identified only as

IlllSSlI1g. ,.

The leading distributors of missing children photos say fear of being sued by estranged parents prevents them from explain-

14A *'*

CHILDREN from Pace 14-A

"In my opinion (parents in such cases) are suffering just as much" as parents of stranger-abducted children, said Tudy Cates, executive director of Colorado Hide and Seek.

Her organization currently has 35 active parental abduction cases and one stranger abduction case.

Mike Landess, a Channel 9 anchonnan who has been active in the Missing Children Network, said, "History shows that when a parent abducts a child, in the majority of cases the child is being used as a batteririg ram against the other parent."

ing the circumstances be ' d each photo.

U.S. Justice Departmen official James Wootton said that m. any ?!Ple .believe the children staring out from the pictures in-

volve cases like Adam ~~I a s-year-old Florida boy who was a~ucted and murdered In 1981. A film about his life, called .. Adam," galvanized the missing-children is-

sue in the nation. I

"There is now a broadening of emphasis (in the missing children morement)," Woolton said. "There was a i'sunderstanding that the missing-children issue was only about cases like Adam."

But to change the emphasis risks making the issue less compelling. ~

, Jay Howell, exe~ut~ve . ector of the National Center for Missing an Exploited Chilo ~~n, said parental, a~u~ti9n has been "tra· diticnally a low priority Ite~ .... We still do face a uphill battle in convincing people

,- that this is something th.atl is a crime that should be taken seriously.

, .

Please see CHI! OREN on 14-A

Missing kids usually abducted by a parent

CHILDREN from Page 1-A

"It isn't as compelling (as stranger abductions). The scenerio is not as dangerous, obviously. The problem is, there is danger there. And while it may not (have) the attention of the sexy, bizarre-type occurrence, .. it does present real danger."

'The parental story'

Associated Press photo editor

Dan Hansen, who set up a program .to distribute pictures to hundreds of newspapers, said recent news reports about the missing-children issue have begun to change public perceptions by pointing out that the numbers of stranger-abducted children have been exaggerated.

Noting that there have been misunderstandings, he said he hopes "to focus in more on the parental story" in future photo programs.

AP has distributed pictures of about 300 children, three-quarters of whom were abducted by one of their parents, Hansen said. Like many other programs, information accompanying the pictures does not disclose that fact.

Firm sells photos

The director of The National Child Safety Council, which puts, out an abducted children direclory that lists ]05 children, says that his organization will begin . including parentally abducted children in many of its programs,

II. R. Wilkinson said the council supplies the pictures to more than 700 dairies for printing on milk cartons and to more than 140 utility companies so the pictures can be sent to customers along with monthly bills.

He said there are no plans to include information about the abductor parent because of space limitations and possible legal problems. Prijatel agreed. He said information about abductor parents is withheld by his network because "if the (custody) case was reo' versed" there would be the threat of libel suits. The sentiment was echoed by Child Find's director Louis McCagg, and by AP's Han: sen.

The fear of lawsuits stems from the often murky nature of some parental abductions. Distinctions between good and bad - so clear In cases of stranger abduction -

In Denver, the pictures that an. blur in many parental kidnapping

K()S TV Ch t' cases, said William Treanor a

pear on A- anne19, In the child advocate based in Washin' g_

Rocky Mountain News' and on

Safeway shopping bags come from ton, D.C.

an organization called the Missing . Treanor, a critic of some miss-

Children Network _ a for-profit ing children groups, said some Ohio organization that sells the pic- well-intentioned organizations are lures to 102 television stations, afraid of spelling out all the facts around the nation. about the missing children issue

Don Prijatel, president of the or- for fear of lessening the emotional ganization, says that 85 percent of impact of the caus~.

the pictures are of children abduct- 'People won't contribute'

ed by parents. ,

Child Find, a New Yorkcharity "The cases are messy and the

that supplies many of the other pic- facts aren't often that clear," said tures - including those found on Treanor. "People aren't going to Regional Transportation District contribute money on those."

buses - reports that more than 90 However, he said, if the children percent of the pictures Involve are to be found, information about parental abductions. the nature of the abduction needs

Even organizations that have to be provided. He favors showing distributed pictures of stranger-ab- pictures not only of the abducted du~ted children are now planning child but also of the abductor par-

to include parental abductions as ent.

well. The National Center reports "You'd recover mor~ kids bethat 90 percent of the 300 to 400 pic- cause you'd have two persons you

tures it has distributed to various could locate," he said.. .

groups are of children kidnapped Man~ experts say that parental by strangers. Spokesman Barbara . abductions o~ten ar~ as traumatic ~hapman said there are plans to ' as stranger kidnappmgs.

Increase the number of pictures in-

volving parental kidnapping cases.

'Done for revenge'

Prijatel said he's seen the same pattern. "In the vast majority of cases;" he said, "parental abduction is not done for love. It is done out of revenge."

While the groups shift their emphasis to custody abductions, lhe government is planning to conduct the first detailed national study of the missing children issue, Wootton said the study will be conducted by private contractors and will take about nine months to complete.

24A _.'le Denver Post/Friday, September 27,1985


..,..,. A Tlmes Mirror ~ Newspaper

Missing kids, missing facts

BIG PLACARDS depicting the smiling faces of four "missing children" have been installed in about 600 public-transit buses in metropolitan Denver.

The posters don't say so, but not one of the youngsters could be considered a kidnap victim in the usual sense. They were all abducted by parents - caught uIljin bitter divorce custody cases - not snatched away by shadowy strangers on street corners.

One of the four, in fact, has been found. Another, a girl of 9, is believed to be living with her mother in Louisiana, and a third is a Canadian girl who turned 18 since she disappeared two years ago.

The search for the fourth child, a 15-year-old girl, has been called off because the custody case has been reopened and the parent who took her may be awarded guardianship.

All this information has been passed on to the Regional Transportation District by Child Find, the New York-based organization that supplied the photos. But the RTD has no plans to remove or modify the signs, which are scheduled to remain on display for three months.

The bus system's failure to disclose the pertinent facts in these cases might be excused as mere bureaucratic bungling if examples of similar dissembling were not so widespread. Indeed, nearly all of the "missing children" pictures now being paraded before the public in Colorado - on Safeway grocery sacks, during Channel 9 news broadcasts and in daily features in the Rocky Mountain News - are parental-abduction cases.

Richard T, Schlosberg III. Publisher

David Hall, Editor

Anthony H, Campbell, Munuging Editor Chuck Green, Editorisl Page Editor

Sue F. Smith. Associate Editor

Wifliam H, Hornby, Senior Editor

There's no doubt that most of these youngsters have gone through a traumatic experience, and in some cases their safety may actually be in jeopardy. But unlike the rare and highly publicized cases of kidnapping by strangers, such as the seizure of little Lori Poland two years ago, parental abductions pose no threat to the general public.

To imply that all missing children are in dire peril only adds to the nation's unjustified fear over kidnappings - a paranoia that has poisoned normal relations between children and grown-ups and diverted attention from the far more prevalent problems of abused and neglected children.

The quickest way to find kids who disappear in custody disputes might be to circulate pictures of the parents involved. Adults, after all, look pretty much the same from year to year, while children can change markedly in appearance. But those in the missing children ' business - some of whom have a p~ofiteering interest in producing pictures of the supposedly vanished

- have so far declined to focus on the parents. They say this approach I might get them into legal trouble, but what they may really fear is the ! potential loss of millions of dollars I worth of free advertising. ,.

It may be that RTD and the news media are providing a valuable public service by distributing pic- ! tures of missing persons. But to avoid crass manipulation, they should label all such photos as cas-

es of parental abduction, kidnapping by strangers or - most common of all ~ runaways.

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