http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/08/21/missing-adults-getting-more-attention.html?sid=101Missing adults getting more attention
Columbus police focus on high-risk cases
Saturday, August 21, 2010 02:50 AM
By Jeb Phillips
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Columbus police distributed these fliers in their search for Timothy Eugene Fisher and Jeffrey Allen Stutton, two longtime missing and presumed endangered adults.In 2005, Columbus police placed three women who had been missing for a long time under possibly violent circumstances on a kind of high-priority missing-adults list.
The first, Ashley Howley, 20, disappeared in June 2004 after reporting that her boyfriend assaulted her. Police found her remains in Delaware County in 2008, where the boyfriend had buried her. He is serving a life sentence in prison.
The second, Crystal Wilson, 47, was last seen alive during a 2003 Christmas party at a Northeast Side tavern. Police found her body on Aug. 13 inside a car in a lake off Dublin Road. Authorities are still investigating.
The third, Carla Losey, was 20 when she was last seen on New Year’s Eve 2002 leaving a Hilltop bar with an unknown man.
“I want her home,” said Pam Conner, 54, Losey’s mother. “If it means we have a burial for her, or if it means we just have to make a psychiatrist’s appointment for her ... I want to know.”
After long criticizing Ohio law-enforcement agencies for the way they handle missing adults, Conner and others say the agencies are improving. But some of the old complaints still pop up.
Some critics say police departments often ignore reports because they believe missing adults are gone because they want to be. Or agencies work some cases harder than others.
Losey, who had been arrested for prostitution and worked as a stripper, might not have gotten the initial attention that she should have, Conner said.
It’s sometimes difficult to separate the reports that need immediate action from those that don’t, said Sgt. Jerry Cupp of the Columbus police’s missing-persons unit.
The unit received 5,726 reports last year, or about 16 per day. About 80 percent of those were for missing juveniles, Cupp said. The unit doesn’t divide the reports by age.
He said that 95 percent of all reports are resolved within two days.
Most adults are, in fact, voluntarily missing, he said. They didn’t come home one night but turn up a few hours later, or the report is the result of someone looking for an estranged spouse. In the latter, police will verify that the person is alive but won’t pursue it further, Cupp said.
A state law signed in 2007 requires law-enforcement agencies to take certain actions in missing-persons cases. They must, for example, immediately enter information into a national database if a missing person is between 18 and 21 years old. They have different time limits when the cases meet other criteria.
Last month, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission issued revised legal requirements and recommended protocols in missing-persons cases. The Ohio attorney general’s office, which oversees the commission, has met with families and victims advocates in the past several months to address concerns about the cases, said Kevin Miles, president of Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.
Losey remains on a wall of the longtime, high-risk missing in the missing-persons squad room. Her mother said she now regularly hears from the detective assigned to the case and thinks it’s getting the attention it needs.
Others have joined Losey on the wall:
• Brian Shaffer, an Ohio State medical student who was last seen April 1, 2006, at the Ugly Tuna Saloona in the South Campus Gateway. He was 27 years old.
• Anthony Luzio Jr., of Powell, who was last seen July 4, 2005, leaving a party in southern Delaware County. He was 25.
• Jeffrey Allen Stutton, who was last seen Oct. 9, 2005, at his residence on Hodges Drive on the West Side. He was 46.
• Timothy Eugene Fisher, who was last seen June 5, 2005, at Bill’s Other Place bar, 733 Harrisburg Pike on the West Side. He was 45.
For more information on Columbus missing persons, visit www.columbuspolice.org/missings
.Anyone with information on missing people can contact the Columbus police missing-persons unit at 614-645-4670.