Do you have a missing loved one?
SUFFOLK COUNTY—There are currently 628 cases of missing persons in New York. And on any given day, there are between 80,000 and 90,000 missing persons in the United States. Over 600,000 individuals are reported missing in the U.S. annually.
In response to the local and national statistics, several Suffolk County agencies and organizations have partnered to raise awareness and hopefully rally resources to locate the missing, and ultimately decrease this disturbing tally. Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legis. William Lindsay, Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and Youth Enrichment Services joined their efforts to hold the county’s first Missing Persons Day event at Community Ambulance Company in Sayville last Saturday.
“This event is not only to increase public awareness, but it is also to tell the families that we have not forgotten and that there is hope that one day we will find your loved ones and bring them home,” said Ruth Kohlmeier, the Suffolk County deputy medical examiner.
Those who are missing a family member, like Ida Mayer, face the brunt of emotion from Missing Persons Day. Mayer’s husband, Robert, went missing on June 14, 2013 — two days before Father’s Day. Rob’s son and daughter were 15 and 11 when their father disappeared.
A neighbor saw his red Pontiac GTO leaving their driveway after Rob had returned from work 10 minutes prior. The neighbor could not see who was driving the vehicle, though. Mayer explained that Rob did not return home that night, and she knew something was terribly wrong.
“I filed a police report at 1 a.m. that night,” Mayer said before an audience mainly wearing red, as she requested, since Rob’s favorite color was red. “When I hear people saying that reports can’t be filed within 24-48 hours, it makes me crazy. Reports can be and should be filed as soon as possible. There is no time frame. Every minute matters. And this misconception among others must be changed.”
His car was found at the Deer Park Long Island Rail Road station the following day. Almost six years later, there have been no further leads despite extensive searching.“What adult male leaves everything that they ever loved and worked for their whole life and disappears without a trace?” she said. “No, Rob didn’t willingly leave. Something terrible happened. And I will spend the rest of my days searching for him and answers. And I will get justice.”
Mayer said that she refuses to let her husband’s disappearance be in vain. Mayer has become a missing persons advocate and receives calls from missing persons’ families in Long Island as well as nationwide.
Various speakers relevant to locating missing persons provided education in their specific fields, including a representative from National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. NamUs is not only a public online database for assisting to locate missing persons in the U.S., but also provides forensic services that features fingerprint examiners, forensic odontologists, forensic anthropologists as well as DNA analysis.
“As legislators, agencies and subject-matter experts in the field gather, they say, ‘What can we do about this? We need to do something more,’” said Lori Bruski of NamUs, which is administered by the National Institute of Justice. “Out of that came the NamUs program.”
Rob’s profile on NamUs has five stars, meaning that each portion of his profile is complete, including the acquisition of his DNA and family members’ DNA.
Other presentations were given by a forensic expert about the use of DNA or family members’ DNA to log for potential advancements in a missing persons case; a SCPD detective about human trafficking and the relevance of pimping with missing persons cases; and a U.S. attorney’s office representative about gangs in Suffolk County in relation to missing persons.
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