About the Founder and President of Project Jason, Kelly Murphy
Kelly Murphy, president and founder of Project Jason, is one of the foremost experts in the field of missing persons in the United States. She is one of the few non-law enforcement people trained at the criminal justice program at the premier college specializing in missing persons and has more than 100 hours of professional training on missing persons from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The U.S. Department of Justice and Fox Valley Technical College.
She has been a speaker at events for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, at the National Sex Offender Management Conference, Fox Valley’s Uniting in the Search for the Missing, and the National Candlelight Vigil. She taught Project Jason’s course on DNA and Missing Persons at the 2008 Cue Center Conference.
She frequently lectures about missing persons issues, law enforcement and missing persons, and the science of DNA and its benefits to finding missing persons.
She is also called to speak about laws affecting missing persons because of her leadership of Campaign for the Missing, which mandates how missing and unidentified persons are handled. It has been passed in eight states so far. She also speaks about her steerage of Jason’s Law, which mandated the creation of the Nebraska State Missing Person’s Clearinghouse.
In 2008, she was the recipient of the Keeper of the Flame award, given annually by Monica Caison, founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons. This award is given to law enforcement, business leaders, organizations, search personnel and/or volunteers who have risen above their daily duties in the field of missing persons and service to victims of homicide; persons who have shown great empathy and brought forth action for the cause. She has appeared on the Montel Williams Show, Fox National Dayside News, numerous national and international radio shows, and in USA Today.
In 2010, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime named Kelly as the Volunteer for Victims Honoree. The announcement came at the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony held in Washington, DC. The awards, given by US Attorney General Eric Holder, are part of the OVC’s National Crime Victims Rights Week. Kelly was one of eight people honored by the U.S. Justice Department for their work assisting victims of crime.
In November of 2011, Kelly was awarded the Nebraska Governor’s Points of Light Award, for her service to families of the missing in Nebraska, as well as her contribution to law enforcement training and the passing of Jason’s Law, establishing the online Nebraska Missing Person’s Clearinghouse.
Kelly is also a member of the Advisory Planning Committee for the Responding to Missing and Unidentified Persons National Training Conference hosted by Fox Valley Technical College, National Criminal Justice Training Center. In her role as member, she works alongside several respected law enforcement and government representatives, scientists, and nonprofit agency representatives to plan the 2013 conference
She has developed several unique awareness programs to help locate the missing, including the 18 Wheel Angels, Awareness Angels Network, and Come Home. In addition, Kelly works daily with families of the missing nationwide through Project Jason and also with TEAM Hope, a branch of NCMEC.
The first retreat for families of the missing, Keys to Healing, was held in June of 2009. Kelly spent more than a year in development of the event, which is designed to give families of the missing the tools they need to take care of themselves emotionally and physically as they continue their searches. The retreat is now an annual event.
Kelly’s work on behalf of families of the missing began in 2001 after her 19-year-old son, Jason, disappeared. At the time of his disappearance, Kelly and her husband Jim did not know where they could turn for assistance when Jason disappeared. There were many things that, had they known back then, they would have done differently to more quickly and effectively search in the hours and days that followed. And they could have used a sympathetic ear.
After their experience, they determined that where there are other families in such need, they would be there for them. To do so, they founded the nonprofit Project Jason, Assistance for Families of the Missing.
While her ultimate goal is to be able to work for Project Jason full time in order to serve more families of the missing, Murphy serves Project Jason in the hours surrounding her full time job. The efforts to find her son continue on as a regular, although not normal, part of her life.