Missing Children Clearinghouse Annual Report 2007

Released May 22, 2009

The Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse 2007 Annual Report INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW Created in 1993, the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse acts as a central repository of information about children missing in Ohio and distributes information to law enforcement and other interested parties pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 109.65(B). The Clearinghouse also assists searches for missing children, creates public awareness and develops and disseminates educational information about missing and abducted children through press releases, training, child abuse prevention safety fairs and child safety lesson plans through the Ohio Department of Education. In recent years, the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse has begun to address problems such as human trafficking, missing adults and the identification of unidentified human remains. The Clearinghouse has a toll-free hotline, (800) 325-5604, to answer calls from law enforcement, parents, community members and the media. Clearinghouse staff members answer the hotline Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) staffers answer the phones after hours, on weekends and on holidays. The Clearinghouse also maintains a Web site, www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/mcc, which provides resources to the public and displays posters of missing children. In addition to the Web site, Clearinghouse staffers assist law enforcement and parents in the search for missing children by: · Issuing alerts. · Using technology to help locate children, including social Web sites, public records and law enforcement databases. · Training law enforcement, other professionals and the public. · Providing investigative guidance and assistance.1

If a child goes missing, the parent(s) should immediately contact local law enforcement. If contacted, the Clearinghouse will take a supplemental report. The Clearinghouse also will verify that the child has been entered into the FBI s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer by the law enforcement agency and recommend the parent(s) contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to file a report. 1


STATISTICS The Clearinghouse receives monthly statistics on Ohio children reported missing to law enforcement agencies. 2 In 2007, the Clearinghouse documented 23,756 reports of missing children. Of those, 23,441 children, or nearly 99%, were reported recovered. One child was recovered deceased.
Reported Missing Children in Ohio for 2007 AMBER Alert Runaway Family Abduction Non-Family Abduction Family Abduction International Lost, Injured or Otherwise Missing TOTAL 15 11,573 109 3 2 12,054 23,756

FAMILY ABDUCTION: In violation of a custody order, a decree or other legitimate custodial rights, a member of the child s family or someone acting on behalf of a family member takes and fails to return the child. LOST, INJURED or OTHERWISE MISSING: This is a case in which a child s whereabouts are unknown to the child s caretaker. This worries the caretaker for at least one hour and prompts the caretaker to attempt to locate the child. RUNAWAY: A child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight. NON-FAMILY ABDUCTION: A non-family member takes or detains a child by the use of physical force or the threat of bodily harm for at least one hour in an isolated place without lawful authority or parental permission; or, a child who is younger than 15 years old, or is mentally incompetent, is taken, detained by or voluntarily accompanies without a lawful order or parental permission a non-family member who conceals the child s whereabouts, demands ransom or intends to keep the child permanently. AMBER ALERT: A child is abducted; his case meets the AMBER Alert criteria if: 1) The child is under 18 years of age; 2) abduction poses credible threat of immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death; 3) a law enforcement agency determines child is not a runaway and has not been abducted as a result of a child custody dispute, unless the dispute poses a credible threat of serious bodily harm or death to the child; and 4) sufficient descriptive information about the child, the abductor and the circumstances indicate that activation of the alert will help locate the child.


This information is based upon missing children entries in the NCIC computer system. Not all missing children are entered into NCIC. For example, a child may be recovered before the entry is made. 2

Missing Ohio children by age:
2007 Summary by Age Age 0 to 5 years old Age 6 to 12 years old Age 13 to 17 years old Age above 17 years old Age unknown Total 157 734 14,691 8,140 34 23,756

Missing children by Ohio county:
County Adams Allen Ashland Ashtabula Athens Auglaize Belmont Brown Butler Carroll Champaign Clark Clermont Clinton Columbiana Coshocton Crawford Cuyahoga Darke Defiance Delaware Erie Fairfield Fayette Franklin Fulton Gallia Geauga Greene Guernsey 2007 20 225 54 115 66 19 37 30 572 13 41 483 242 13 60 19 88 3475 60 45 110 192 191 9 5679 38 31 28 141 40 County Hamilton Hancock Hardin Harrison Henry Highland Hocking Holmes Huron Jackson Jefferson Knox Lake Lawrence Licking Logan Lorain Lucas Madison Mahoning Marion Medina Meigs Mercer Miami Monroe Montgomery Morgan Morrow Muskingum 2007 1579 97 18 8 7 45 23 117 115 19 34 20 228 0 156 21 734 1709 39 624 119 105 6 21 99 4 1041 5 33 63 County Noble Ottawa Paulding Perry Pickaway Pike Portage Preble Putnam Richland Ross Sandusky Scioto Seneca Shelby Stark Summit Trumbull Tuscarawas Union Van Wert Vinton Warren Washington Wayne Williams Wood Wyandot Unknown 2007 0 16 11 32 89 26 124 26 13 454 130 52 62 107 74 722 1828 223 49 39 15 10 141 19 146 37 57 5 24


MISSING CHILDREN Ohio s statewide AMBER (America s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert Plan was launched Jan. 1, 2003.3 Since then, 24 local/regional plans also have been formed across Ohio. AMBER Alert is a critical missing child response program that utilizes the resources of law enforcement and media to notify the public when children are kidnapped. Below are some of the steps taken during an Ohio AMBER Alert. · Law enforcement receives initial call of missing child and responds to the scene. · Law enforcement confirms the missing child s case meets AMBER Alert criteria. § The abduction poses a credible, immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death to a child. § The child is not a runaway and has not been abducted as a result of a child custody dispute, unless the dispute poses a credible, immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death to the child. § There is sufficient descriptive information about the child, the abductor and the circumstances surrounding the abduction to indicate that the alert will help locate the child. · Law enforcement issues radio broadcast to all neighboring law enforcement agencies and enters the child into the National Crime Information Computer. The FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Clearinghouse are notified of the alert. · Law enforcement and broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System to air a description of the missing child and suspected abductor. · E-mails, faxes and cell phone text messages are sent to all the partners, including law enforcement, companies and citizens signed up to receive the alerts. · The information is posted on the AMBER Alert Plan Web site: www.ohioAMBERplan.org. · The (877) AMBER-OH phone number is activated. The general public can call this number to report a tip or listen to the AMBER Alert description. In 2007, there were 13 separate AMBER Alerts issued in Ohio. Of these, two alerts were for two children each. All 15 children were recovered safely. The Clearinghouse sits on the AMBER Alert Steering Committee and provides the computer software located on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway that is used to issue AMBER Alerts to the media, partners and the public. The Clearinghouse also assists with training in AMBER Alert procedures and best practices. In 2007, the AMBER Steering Committee sponsored regional trainings throughout Ohio. More than 850 law enforcement personnel, media representatives, emergency management staff, children s services administrators and victim advocates attended the workshops.


The alert is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and murdered in 1996 in Dallas, TX. 4

AMBER Alert Success Stories · On April 9, 2007, at 12:30 a.m., the Forest Park Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 1-year-old girl. The suspect was the baby s emotionally-distraught mother. The suspect made a phone call to her ex-boyfriend, the baby s biological father. She left a voice message stating she was going to kill herself and the baby. The boyfriend was in New Orleans and called the Hamilton County Communications Center to report the information. Law enforcement checked the suspect s residence and found it empty. An AMBER Alert was issued. Relatives saw the alert, telephoned the suspect and persuaded her to return. The suspect and child were found safe that day. · On July 5, 2007, at approximately 6:45 p.m., the Adams County Sheriff s Office began the process of issuing an AMBER Alert for a 2-year-old girl. The suspect was the non-custodial father, a 22-year-old male. The father abducted the child and threatened to end it all as he was leaving the residence with her. The suspect also had two warrants outstanding from Clermont County. During the AMBER Alert activation, the Sardinia Police Department heard the alert, located the vehicle, apprehended the suspect and recovered the child without incident. On Dec. 22, 2007, at about 2:35 a.m., the Cleveland Police Department issued an AMBER Alert for a 22-month-old baby girl, last seen in Cleveland the night before. The suspect was the victim s aunt, who had violent tendencies, a felony warrant for larceny and prior murder and drug charges. The suspect saw her picture on TV and called the child s mother. The child was recovered unharmed and the suspect was apprehended.


Missing Child Alert For a missing child who meets all of the AMBER Alert criteria except that law enforcement cannot determine that the child was abducted, the Clearinghouse may issue a Missing Child Alert in response to a local law enforcement request. This will alert all law enforcement agencies in Ohio and the media, activate the local Child Abduction Response Team (CART) and use secondary notification systems to get the information out to the public. In 2007, the Clearinghouse issued eight Missing Child Alerts. All children were recovered safely. Trucker Alert On Jan. 16, 2004, the Attorney General s Office in coordination with the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police launched the Truckers Helping to Recover Ohio s Missing Children advisory, an initiative that provides an advisory that can be issued with or without an AMBER alert. As part of the advisory, the Clearinghouse provides the child s information to all of the participating trucking companies within the local or regional area that law enforcement designates. The companies then post the information in their drivers lounges and dispatch offices and include the information in dispatches. The Ohio Trucking Association was the first to sign up for this initiative, but many organizations and companies have since joined. In 2007, the Clearinghouse issued nine trucker alerts. All children were recovered safely. National Missing Children s Day The Clearinghouse promotes National Missing Children s Day, which is held May 25 to raise awareness about missing children across the nation. Public agencies statewide are encouraged to

hold events to promote child safety, fingerprint children or take their photographs. Contacts at local law enforcement agencies are provided when appropriate. The Department of Justice sponsors a national poster contest and announces the winner at the annual National Missing Children s Day Ceremony in Washington, D.C. In 2007, the Clearinghouse distributed approximately 6,500 commemorative lapel pins and 14,000 child safety brochures at 10 different locations throughout the state. Display tables featured child safety tips and various brochures pertaining to the prevention and recovery of missing children. In addition, 364 children were fingerprinted and their parents provided with a CD containing the child s fingerprints and identifying information. The Clearinghouse partnered with Grace Christian School in Blacklick to release 250 balloons with the name of a missing Ohio child and the date they went missing. For the 2007 national poster contest, Rachel Stevenson of Saint Mary s Elementary School in Elyria won first prize in the country for her poster and essay. Rachel and her teacher and parents were flown to Washington to attend the awards ceremony. Of her winning poster, Rachel wrote: The footsteps on my poster represent the steps we need to take to bring our missing children home. The hearts are a timeline with children s names and the dates they went missing in them. They mean that no matter how long a child is missing they are loved and people will keep looking for them. The earth is our home. I drew the children around it to represent children all around the world who are missing. Rachel also won first place in the state of Ohio. Other winners in Ohio were Cheyenne Rogers of Morton Middle School, 2nd place, and Hannah Retz of Covington Elementary, 3rd place. COLLABORATION I-SEARCH The Clearinghouse participates in the InterState Enforcement Agencies to Recover Children (I-SEARCH) Advisory Council. The council aids in the identification and recovery of missing children. The 13 midwestern members are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Currently, the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse manager serves as President of I-SEARCH. Ohio CART Ohio CART (Child Abduction Response Team), www.lef-oh.org/carthm.html, is a network of trained public safety and other individuals from various agencies, jurisdictions and disciplines who are prepared to respond to specific at risk missing, endangered or abducted children. Ohio CART was first developed in 2006 by the Association of Chiefs of Police, Ohio Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio AMBER Alert Steering Committee in collaboration with the Clearinghouse. There are 33 local or regional CART Teams across Ohio that are ready to be activated should a child become missing or abducted.

In early 2007, Ohio CART with the active involvement of the Clearinghouse Manager - began one-day trainings across eight Ohio regions. Ohio CART trained more than 1,500 people, drafted policies and procedures, developed additional CART teams and created a Web site and promotional brochure. Additionally, several teams conducted mock exercises. Ohio CART is now receiving inquiries from other states requesting assistance in organizing. NamUs The Clearinghouse participates in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System work group. NamUs is the first national online repository for records of missing persons and for records pertaining to unidentified human remains. It was launched in July 2007 by the Office of Justice Programs to address the estimated 40,000 unidentified bodies held at coroner and medical examiner s offices across the United States. The database will be a central repository for coroners and medical examiners to enter an individual unidentified remains record. The missing persons database will be cross-checked with the unidentified remains database to identify the remains. DNA submissions will be added and crosschecked. Families of missing persons may also submit DNA to aid in the identification of remains. Cold Case Videos - In partnership with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, and in conjunction with the families of missing children and law enforcement from across Ohio, the Clearinghouse is producing a series of video segments about missing children cold cases. These will be shown to prisoners in the hope that they may generate new information about these cases. ASSISTANCE TO THE PUBLIC Web Site The Clearinghouse web page, www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/mcc, provides the following valuable information: · Steps to take if a child is missing. · Photographs/posters of missing Ohio children. · Annual reports. · Publications and safety tips. · Fingerprint identification cards and game sheets. · Links to Ohio s AMBER Alert Plan, training information, other state clearinghouses and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Training In 2007, the Clearinghouse gave presentations to approximately 4,000 law enforcement officers, community members, teachers, children s services providers and others on AMBER Alert, first responder programs, resources, Internet safety, CART, child safety prevention and human trafficking. Calls In 2007, the Clearinghouse responded to more than 2,500 calls from law enforcement, families of missing children, state and federal agencies, and others on various issues related to missing children.

Child Fingerprinting Cards The Clearinghouse provides law enforcement agencies and schools with free child fingerprint ID cards to be used at local events they sponsor throughout the state. Ohio Citizens Alert Network (CAN) The public can play a vital part in the recovery of missing children by subscribing to CAN on Ohio s AMBER Alert Web site, www.OhioAMBERPlan.org. Subscribers are notified of missing children through texts and e-mails. A downloadable screensaver featuring missing children and a desktop pop-up AMBER Alert message are available as additional tools. ASSISTANCE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AND OTHER AGENCIES Training In 2007, the Clearinghouse conducted trainings for law enforcement across Ohio, including at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. Recruits, juvenile officers, new sheriffs and trainers were trained on missing children investigations, safety tips for children, AMBER Alert protocol and initiating other missing children alerts. Investigative Assistance During missing children investigations, the Clearinghouse assists law enforcement by using online research tools, posting the child s photo on the Clearinghouse Web site and advising law enforcement of available resources. The Clearinghouse utilizes online public record search tools to locate addresses, neighbors, family members, telephone numbers and professional licenses of people associated with the missing child. The Clearinghouse is also able to analyze information from law enforcement records to see if the child has been incarcerated, taken into the custody of Child Protective Services, obtained a new drivers license or state ID card or has otherwise had contact with law enforcement agencies. The Clearinghouse also has access to many different social networking Web sites where missing children may have posted profiles. The information can provide clues about children s whereabouts, reasons for their disappearances and information on friends and contacts. The Clearinghouse posts missing children photos on both the Clearinghouse and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Web sites. In 2007, the Clearinghouse posted 313 photos on posters. These photos are in addition to the previously-detailed AMBER, Missing Child and Trucker alerts. Together, these efforts generate tips that are directed to the investigating law enforcement agency. Finally, the Clearinghouse provides investigative guidance to law enforcement in the form of cell phone tracking information, satellite photos, direction on legal issues, CART assistance and alert procedures. The Clearinghouse will also recommend, depending upon the case, other state and national resources that are available to the law enforcement agency.


Child Recovery Success Story: In January 2007, there was an attempted abduction of an 18year-old woman in Martins Ferry. The following day, there was a successful abduction of an 11year-old girl from Wheeling, WV. She was taken to Bridgeport, raped and then dropped off in a church parking lot. The description of the suspect and modus operandi were the same in both cases. The following day, a 14-year-old girl disappeared from Bridgeport, Ohio. Members of the community were frightened and upset. The Clearinghouse contacted the Bridgeport police and offered support. The Clearinghouse found that an older man had posted a message on the missing girl s MySpace page in which he professed his love for her, and the Attorney General s Computer Crimes Unit provided computer forensic analysis of the missing girl s computer. It was found that the 44-year-old man, who lived in Ripley, WV., with his mother, had talked the girl into running away with him. Police arrived at the home in Ripley just after the man and the girl had been kicked out by his mother. The Clearinghouse directed the police to the home of a person who was named on the buddy list of the man s MySpace page. The man and girl were located at that person s home in Ripley. Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) The Ohio Attorney General s OHLEG is a one-stop, Web-based crime-fighting and information tool that provides Ohio law enforcement agencies with a single location for information on missing children. All missing child data input by law enforcement through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) are automatically transmitted to OHLEG, which law enforcement can use to quickly disseminate important details to the public by creating missingchild posters and generating missing children advisories. Another powerful function of the application is that law enforcement may use the embedded electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification (eSORN) mapping tool to pinpoint registered sex offenders in the area where the child went missing. Ohio Department of Health The Clearinghouse and the Ohio Department of Health flag and hold the birth certificates of missing children and notify law enforcement when a subsequent request is made for the child s birth certificate. In 2007, the Clearinghouse continued this successful child recovery initiative; seven missing children were recovered as result. Lost Child Alert Technology Resource (LOCATER) In 2007, the Clearinghouse staff used the web-based LOCATER system to aid in the creation and dissemination of 205 posters of missing children to other state clearinghouses, law enforcement agencies in Ohio and throughout the nation. LOCATER posters can be viewed on the Clearinghouse Web site as printable images. Child Recovery Success Story: On May 4, 2007, a Kenton father abducted his 4-year-old daughter. The father had lost custodial rights during a recent divorce. Information gathered by law enforcement revealed he may have driven to Rhode Island. LOCATER posters were created by Clearinghouse staff and distributed in Rhode Island. On June 29, a pharmacist in a Rhode Island pharmacy observed the father and daughter in his store. He had seen the poster and recognized the pair. He immediately contacted local law enforcement, and the father was taken into custody and the child safely recovered.

eOPOTA The online eOPOTA (electronic Ohio Police Officer Training Academy) training course, available to law enforcement officers, examines missing children statistics, explains the missing children resources available to Ohio law enforcement and presents interactive scenarios. OTHER ASSISTANCE Internet Safety The Clearinghouse helps educate children, law enforcement and the general public about responsible use of the Internet. In 2007, 284 parents and children were trained on Internet safety, including safe surfing, predators and social networking Web sites. 4 Human Trafficking Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is a growing criminal industry around the world. According to the United Nations, traffickers generate billions of dollars in profit each year at the expense of millions of victims who are forced or coerced into labor or exploited sexually. Victims can be U.S. citizens or from any corner of the globe and of any race or socioeconomic group. In a 2007 report, the Rand Corporation cited Toledo as a major hub for human trafficking. The Clearinghouse is a member of the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition on human trafficking, www.CentralOhioRescueandRestore.org. In 2007, in conjunction with the coalition, and on its own at various conferences and events, the Clearinghouse trained hundreds of law enforcement officers, victim advocates and social workers on human trafficking. LEGISLATION Responsibilities of Law Enforcement Under Ohio Revised Code 2901.30, law enforcement is required to · Take missing children reports and investigate promptly. · Enter information about missing children into the National Crime Information Center. within 12 hours of the report being made. · Notify the missing children s parents, guardians, custodians or caregivers of updates. · Notify other law enforcement agencies of missing children reports. · Assist other law enforcement agencies in the investigation of missing children cases. · Obtain dental records of children missing for more than 30 days. · Enter information on found children into the NCIC computer.


More than 400 law enforcement officers, librarians and school safety officers who are certified trainers for children and parents were also trained. 10

NATIONAL RESOURCES AND PARTNERS The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), www.missingkids.com, (800) THE-LOST, helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation, find missing children and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families and the professionals who serve them. The National Runaway Switchboard, www.1800runaway.org, is the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth. NRS provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members throughout the country. The switchboard is well known for its Home Free Program. In conjunction with Greyhound and United Airlines, Home Free provides a free ticket home to runaways without money. A Child Is Missing, Inc. (ACIM), www.achildismissing.org, provides its first responder program to law enforcement. The program s rapid response telephone system alerts residents in a targeted area about a missing child, elderly person, or mentally impaired or disabled individual. This program serves several states, including Ohio. A Child Is Missing works in concert with AMBER Alert and all child safety programs. Only law enforcement can utilize the program. No special equipment or personnel are needed to activate ACIM, and the program is free. Code Adam, one of the nation s largest child-safety programs, was created by WalMart to assist businesses and public facilities in preventing a child from being abducted and removed from the premises. The Code Adam program was named in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, whose 1981 abduction and murder brought the horror of child abduction to national attention. It lays out a series of steps in the event that a child is reported missing in a store or similar location. All Ohio agencies, schools, libraries, law enforcement agencies and retailers are encouraged to promote Code Adam. Team HOPE: Help Offering Parents Empowerment, (866) 305-HOPE, www.teamhope.org, assists families with missing children by offering counseling, resources, empowerment and support from trained volunteers who have or have had missing children.


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