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Project Jason in the News

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http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article679209.html

For parents of missing children, years pass but hope persists

By MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS

The Kansas City Star
07/06/2014 7:01 PM
07/06/2014 10:50 PM

It’s no longer Tammy Mack’s daily routine to spend her first waking hours online and on the phone trying to find her missing daughter.

She did that for several years. But it has been a decade now since Ashley Renee Martinez disappeared at age 15 from a public pool in St. Joseph. Searching the Web and calling police to see whether any new leads have surfaced is something Mack now does only once in a while.

Still, she hasn’t given up hope that someday she will find out what happened to Ashley.
Ashley Martinez was 15 when she disappeared 10 years ago.

For parents like Mack, the waiting, worrying and never knowing can take an immense emotional and physical toll. Often they channel their hope into planning events to keep their child’s name in front of the public.

“It’s also a family’s way of saying to the child, ‘I love you,’” said Kelly Murphy, director and founder of Project Jason, which helps families of missing persons learn to cope. “Their way of saying, ‘I will never stop looking for you.’”

Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the last time Mack saw her daughter, heading through the gated entrance to Krug Pool with her younger brother for a summer afternoon of swimming.

“When I came to pick them up later, her brother was there but she was gone,” Mack said.

She gathered with family and friends Sunday night for a candlelight vigil in the pool parking lot. Maybe, she said, shining a light on the case, even all these years later, will shake loose new leads that “finally bring us the closure we seek.”

Last week, she planted a sugar maple tree for Ashley across the street from the pool.

“I chose the sugar maple because in the autumn its leaves turn red, and red is her favorite color,” Mack said. “When I drive by I’ll see it.”

Donald Ross of Belton knows exactly what Mack is going through. His son Jesse “Opie” Ross disappeared in 2006 while on a college trip to Chicago.

“We keep pushing Jesse’s case, keep putting it out there,” said Ross, who has billboards with his son’s face staring out at motorists along Chicago highways and who still circulates fliers through the city’s downtown, where his son was last seen.

Ross’ Facebook page is covered with pictures and discussions about his continued search for answers to what happened to his son. He wrote a book, “Where’s Opie? Vanished in Chicago,” partly for “personal therapy” but also to help other parents of missing children.

“It’s frustrating,” Ross said. Police get new cases, and investigations into cold cases ease, he said.

“But you as a parent, every morning when you get up you see your child’s face just as it was when you last saw them. You realize it’s probably changed. You’ve missed years. But that feeling never goes away.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists 16 missing children in Kansas and 51 in Missouri, including Elizabeth Ann Gill, who disappeared in the summer of 1965 when she was 2 years old. She would be 51 today. Her family thinks she is still alive. For years they have held vigils, balloon launches and other events in her name.

Elizabeth Ann, the youngest of 10 children, was last seen playing in the front yard of her family’s Cape Girardeau home. Some thought she had wandered off and fallen into the Mississippi River. Her parents thought she had been kidnapped.

Four years ago, friends and family persuaded law enforcement officials to interview members of a transient group who had been in the area at the time the toddler disappeared. The FBI reclassified her case as a kidnapping and opened an investigation.

FBI spokeswoman Rebecca Wu said Thursday that all leads had been pursued, without resolution.

But the case remains open with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “We never close a case until the answers are uncovered or the child is found,” said Lanae Holmes, senior family advocacy specialist for the center.

“We know that continued awareness brought to a case does bring children home. Children are found 10, 12, 20 years later,” Holmes said. “It some cases one tip can be the lead that brings a child home.”

That’s how Shawn Hornbeck was found, four years after he was kidnapped in 2002 when he was 11. The tip came from a teen who saw a pickup near a school bus stop where another boy was grabbed in January 2007. The description led police to a home in suburban St. Louis four days later. There they found the latest kidnapped child and Shawn.

For some families, the vigils, balloon launches, posters and billboards are about hoping that one tip will come. But often it’s also about “feeling in control of a control-less situation,” Murphy said.

She started the nonprofit Project Jason after her son Jason Jolkowski disappeared in Omaha, Neb., in 2001.

When a loved one disappears, she said, “it’s trauma that does not end. It’s like you have this gaping wound that never heals.”

“Trauma affects the brain and the body,” Murphy said. People can become physically ill. Consumed, even.

Some parents withdraw from the rest of their family or become so obsessed with searching for their lost child that they miss their other children growing up.

It’s common, too, Murphy said, for family members to have different views about what happened to their child. One parent may think the child is dead while the other is sure the child is alive and will come home.

Murphy recalled a family who moved from the only home their missing child had ever lived in with them. The couple got permission from the new homeowners to tack a plastic-sealed note to the door, so that if their child ever returned, he’d know where to find them.

“We never forget. And can’t, won’t, give up,” said Murphy, who has found herself staring into crowds or circling a block thinking that this time the familiar face she has seen is going to be her missing son. “There is always that glimmer of hope.”

Kara Kopetsky, another missing Kansas City area teen, disappeared in 2007. Last month her family held its seventh annual walk in her honor. At 17, Kara was last seen on a surveillance video leaving Belton High School; the last person she’d talked to was a boyfriend.

Mack thinks her daughter left the St. Joseph pool with a then-33-year-old convicted felon the teen had met in the neighborhood where they both lived.

Mack doesn’t know, but she thinks the man promised to take her daughter, who was on medication for bipolar disorder, away. “To her it was an adventure. I’m sure the picture was painted pretty,” she said.

Days after the girl disappeared, the man was arrested in a purse-snatching investigation in Olympia, Mo., but used a phony name and was released. Nearly two months later, after he failed to show up in court, he was arrested on a warrant.

Ashley wasn’t with him either time. He wouldn’t talk about the girl, but he remains a person of interest, said Sgt. Jennifer Protzman, the St. Joseph detective on the case. No arrest has ever been made in connection with the girl’s disappearance.

“Periodically I will get an email on a tip from another jurisdiction” that found a body matching Ashley’s age and gender, but then dental and DNA tests rule them out, Protzman said.

But police haven’t gotten any substantive information since Ashley disappeared, she said.

Tabitha Blohm Kretzer, who was Ashley’s best friend, was at the pool the day Ashley vanished.

“I thought she had gone to the convenience store, but she never came back,” Kretzer said. “I still think about her all the time.”

Mack said she knows her daughter didn’t stay away willingly. “One thing I know about Ashley, she wouldn’t just walk away from 15 years of life, never calling her family, her friends.”

“There’s always that thought,” she said, “that she is out there somewhere. Maybe like those girls who were kidnapped and found 10 years later in Cleveland. I’ve spent years getting her face out there. Maybe someone will come forward. I have her on every missing child website list.

“I want her to know, Ashley, you are not forgotten. I just want to bring her home, alive or dead. We’ve got to bring her home.”

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http://www.wdrb.com/story/29673821/family-of-missing-woman-using-teddy-bear-to-keep-her-memory-alive

Family of missing woman using teddy bear to keep her memory alive

Posted: Jul 30, 2015 2:21 PM PST
Updated: Jul 30, 2015 3:24 PM PST
By Lawrence Smith

MADISON, Ind. (WDRB) -- When Molly Dattilo went missing 11 years ago, it affected most everyone in her hometown of Madison. It is one of Indiana's most mysterious missing person cases and now her family is trying something new to make sure no one forgets.

Meet Miles Superbear. He is sent across the country to the hometowns of missing persons. On Thursday, he was in Madison, brought there by Molly Dattilo's cousin, Amy.

“That's the whole point of it, just to show people that we still remember her, we still honor her that, and Miles Superbear is our mascot for the missing,” said Amy Dattilo-Cavallaro.

On July 6, 2004, Molly Dattilo vanished. She had used a pay phone in Indianapolis and hasn't been seen since.

She is presumed dead, but her body has never been found.

“It's still like it was yesterday,” said Dattilo-Cavallaro.

Amy has photographed Miles the Superbear at many of Molly's favorite spots. They'll be posted on social media, and on the website of the bear's sponsor, Project Jason, which provides help to families of the missing.

“If we keep it alive, we still have hope. If we keep it alive, the people who do have the information, they can still come forward,” she said.

Police have never filed criminal charges, but the family did win a civil suit against the man suspected of killing Molly.

Molly's uncle, who runs the family's hundred-year-old business, is pleased that younger family members are still carrying her torch after more than a decade.

“The message gets old but these kids have continued with it, and I hope they continue with it until they get an answer,” said Tony Datillo.

Family members still have hope that they can one day bring Molly's remains home to Madison.

“I'm not going to stop until we find her,” said Amy.

On Friday, Amy mails the bear to Illinois, as the family another missing person tries to keep hope alive.

You can check out the Project Jason website here.

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http://www.madisoncourier.com/Content/News/News/Article/Keeping-Molly-s-Memory-Alive/178/961/91897

 

Keeping Molly’s Memory Alive

Renee Bruck, Courier Staff Writer

Friday, July 31, 2015 3:03 PM

 

A teddy bear on a mission visited Madison on Thursday to spend the day raising awareness about missing persons.

 

Nearly 4,000 miles since his adventure began, Miles for the Missing Superbear traveled to the area to call attention to Madison native Molly Dattilo’s disappearance, which happened more than a decade ago.

 

Eleven years later, Molly’s family and friends still have few answers as to what happened to the youngest of nine children.

 

An Eastern Kentucky University student who was taking summer classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Molly was last seen on July 6, 2004, around Westlake Apartments in Indianapolis. She left behind her cell phone, clothes, identification and ATM card on the night she disappeared.

 

Police traced a call Molly made to a friend from a pay phone around 11 p.m. on the day she disappeared to the Thornton’s gas station on Crawfordsville Road in Speedway. No one has heard from her since then.

 

The 5-foot, 100-pound woman with brown hair and green eyes was 23 years old when she went missing.

 

But Miles Superbear wasn’t in town to bring attention to the statistics retold over and over with each poster family and friends pinned up over the years.

 

Molly’s cousin Amy Dattilo Cavallaro said the teddy bear was in town to remember Molly for all the great things about her life.

 

Miles Superbear began the day by visiting the Madison Consolidated High School track with Dattilo’s family. Molly’s name still graces the girls’ track and field boards for her record-breaking achievements in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races.

 

Cavallaro shared her memories of Molly’s high school track career while at the field. Molly’s sister, Tara, once held a Madison Consolidated High School track record that Cavallaro topped years later. In 1998, Molly beat Cavallaro’s record.

 

Molly’s record still stands today.

 

Miles Superbear and the Dattilo family then ventured to the riverfront near Broadway where the annual 5K run/walk and elementary races bearing Molly’s name are held.

 

Cavallaro said Molly would have loved the riverfront walkway.

 

Miles Superbear also stopped by Molly’s childhood home and the Dattilo Fruit Company on Main Street.

 

The teddy bear ended his visit with the family and day in Madison with a trip to the Lanier Mansion. Molly and her family spent several years just blocks away from the mansion in a home near the corner of Second and Elm streets.

 

While the memories remain 11 years after Molly’s disappearance, so do several questions. At first, family and friends waited for an explanation days after they last heard from Molly.

 

Those days turned into months. Months turned into years.

 

Yet they still wait for the answers.

 

The Dattilo family connected with Project Jason – a national nonprofit organization that provides resources to families of missing persons – after Molly went missing in 2004. Cavallaro also found out about Miles Superbear, a Project Jason awareness and fundraising campaign, through that connection.

 

The project began, ironically, on July 6 – the 11th anniversary of Molly’s disappearance. Miles Superbear left Washington state, traveling to visit families in Texas, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana so far.

 

His next adventure takes him to Maple Park, Ill.

 

Cavallaro said Miles Superbear can only continue his nationwide journey if the project receives funding. Project Jason organizers hope to receive three donations of $14.99 for each stop he makes so the nonprofit group can continue its work with families of missing persons.

 

People may donate at www.projectjason.org.

 

Miles Superbear also shares his adventures and stories of his visits with families on Facebook under the name “Miles Superbear.”

 

Anyone with information about Molly’s disappearance should call the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at (317) 262-TIPS.

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http://wbay.com/2015/12/16/sisters-hope-teddy-bear-campaign-will-aid-in-search-for-missing-mom/

Sisters Hope Teddy Bear Campaign Will Aid in Search for Missing Mom

by Sarah Thomsen Published: December 16, 2015, 6:05 pm Updated: December 16, 2015, 8:20 pm

The family of a missing Brown County woman is trying to draw national attention to her case in a unique new way.

They’re relying on the help of a travelling teddy bear to get their message out.

They’re doing it with the help of Miles, aka Miles for the Missing Superbear.

He’s travelled the United States this year, moving from coast to coast, covering more than 15,000 miles in 13 states and visiting 16 families.

His latest stop is in Brown County.

“It’s healing a little bit, you know. You wouldn’t think so, but it was amazing how uplifting it was to have him arrive here,” says Marsha Loritz.

She received the bear Monday night. It’s her latest effort to bring awareness and attention to her mom, Victoria Prokopovitz.

She disappeared without a trace from her Town of Pittsfield home in April of 2013.

For nearly three years, Marsha has become a voice for the missing, so when she stumbled across a Facebook page for the Superbear, she knew she had to chance it and asked to participate.

“It is a bear,” says Marsha, “but it’s something to make us smile. It’s something to be able to tell our loved one’s story.”

The travelling bear comes from Project Jason, a non-profit started by the mom of Jason Jolkowski, who disappeared in Nebraska in 2001.

Project Jason highlights missing persons cases and offers support for families.

With each visit from Miles, families share pictures and stories on Facebook, sharing a personal connection you simply can’t find on a missing person’s poster.

“Some will show where they worked or the last place they were seen,” says Marsha, describing the kinds of pictures families post. “We took him yesterday to Kroll’s and had dinner, my sister and I. Kroll’s is meaningful because my mom would take us there to celebrate any special birthdays.”

Marsha hopes this extra attention could help crack just one missing persons case.

In the meantime, she sees this project giving families a little hope.

“Just fun humor, and kind of makes you forget about what this really is about, a little bit, and just smile,” she says.

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Kelly Murphy, Project Jason founder, was honored by Deseret News as one of their 2015 heroes.

 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865644274/Deseret-News-heroes-of-2015-7-people-who-made-a-difference-this-year.html?pg=all

Deseret News heroes of 2015: 7 people who made a difference this year

By Deseret News Staff
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 23 2015 6:30 a.m. MST
Updated: Friday, Dec. 25 2015 4:51 p.m. MST

Most heroes don't think of themselves as extraordinary people. If you were to ask any of the people on this list if they think of themselves as heroes, they'd probably say no. What they all have in common, however, is a desire to make a difference.

Most heroes don't think of themselves as extraordinary people.

In fact, if you were to ask any of the people on this list if they think of themselves as heroes, they'd probably say no.

What they all have in common, however, is a desire to make a difference.

This year's list includes a doctor who has dedicated much of his life's work to a subject many of us avoiding thinking about until it's too late: sickness, aging and death. Atul Gawande isn't just a doctor, he's a father and a journalist who has shined a light on subjects like the spread of Ebola and the the long-term impacts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer," he said.

While Gawande is fairly well known, some of the heroes on this year's list are not. One of those is Kelly Murphy, a mom who helps families cope with loss. And then there's Amrita Ahuja. A native of Mumbai, India, Ahuju has a Ph.D. in business economics from Harvard, but her interests lie beyond simply understanding how markets work, or how companies can maximize profit. Instead, Ahuja wants to figure out how to do the most good with the least amount of money possible. Call it efficient charity. Ahuja and her team are working to bring clean water to millions in the developing world and slow the spread of HIV.

This year, the Deseret News has selected seven heroes, one for each of our areas of editorial emphasis. While these heroes come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe, each has found a way to make the world a better place. We hope their examples can inspire us all to do the same, in ways both big and small.

Family: Kelly Murphy

Her son’s disappearance on June 13, 2001, launched Kelly Murphy on a journey that has helped thousands of families figure out how to take the next step as they cope with the loss of a loved one.

Jason Jolkowski, then 19, was last seen taking the garbage cans to the curb of their home in Omaha, Nebraska. He then waited for a ride to his job. He never got there. He simply vanished, and no clues have ever been found.

Murphy coped with anguish and other emotions, some that may never completely resolve. But she didn’t stop moving. She launched Project Jason, an organization that helps families who have missing loved ones figure out their next step, whether it’s getting media attention to help in the search or learning to live a somewhat normal life in extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

There are a lot of people coping with such a loss. The FBI and the National Crime Information Center collect more than 800,000 missing person reports each year, with 105,000 annually that never get solved. Murphy also helped Jason’s Law get passed in Nebraska, establishing the state’s missing person clearinghouse.

Murphy lives in Renton, Washington, where she works full time for a company that sells outdoor gear and clothing, but as president and founder of Project Jason she is still fully engaged with the organization. It provides families with tips, private community boards, access to free online counseling with a qualified counselor and an annual “Keys to Healing” retreat that brings together loved ones of those who are missing to share ideas and help each other heal.

 

Read about the other heroes by clicking on the link above.

Deseret News is the leading newspaper in Utah, offering a rich perspective on faith and family issues as well as in-depth local coverage of education, politics, business, and, of course, sports.

DeseretNews.com is the leading newspaper website in Utah, with approximately 3 million unique visitors each month.

 

Project Jason thanks Deseret News and reporter Lois Collins for highlighting the cause of missing persons.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/father-says-police-were-insensitive-after-daughter-disappeared_56901a95e4b0a2b6fb700fdf?hpcrime=y&te=Newser

Frustrated Father Says Cops Won't 'Do Anything' About Missing Daughter
"I don't care whether they are kidnapped or a runaway; they are still missing and may be in danger."


01/09/2016 12:06 pm ET

David Lohr
Senior Crime Reporter, The Huffington Post

A Louisiana man is frustrated with police, claiming they were insensitive and put forth little effort to locate his daughter and her best friend after they disappeared in Lafayette earlier this week.

"It's mind boggling," Marlon Mitchell told The Huffington Post. "They didn't care and it was all we could do to get them to do anything. We couldn't even get the television stations to report it."

Mitchell's 16-year-old daughter and her best friend, also 16, disappeared on Wednesday. They were last seen getting into a vehicle outside Lafayette High School.

Contacted by HuffPost on Friday morning, a spokesperson for the Lafayette Police Department confirmed officials had not launched a missing person investigation.

"We're not listing them as missing," said Sgt. Kyle Soriez, who appeared confused that HuffPost was interested in reporting the story. "In fact, our local media hasn't even covered them as missing. I believe one of the local media outlets has them just on their social network page just as an assistance to the parents, but currently they're runaways."

Natalie Wilson, co-founder and director of public relations for Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., said it endangers missing children when police simply label them as runaways, because investigators typically don't put the same amount of effort into locating them.

"A large number of children who run away end up being victims of sex trafficking," Wilson told HuffPost. "And when they are classified as runaways, they don't receive an amber alert or any media attention at all, which is what we saw in this case."

Mitchell said it was out of character for his daughter, whom he described as a good student with "great character and attitude," to be out of contact with his family.

"Just like any kid, you get rebellious spurts, but nothing like this," he said. "So we was upset when the police officer yesterday told us that there would have to be no contact within 48 hours for them to actually deal with this as a missing person."

Fortunately, Mitchell's family did not have to wait for that classification. Both girls were found safe Friday afternoon, after HuffPost spoke with police. Calls for comment to police following their safe recovery were not returned.

While there was a happy ending to the story -- in the sense that both girls are home safe -- Mitchell credits grassroots efforts and social media with getting the ball rolling on the case.

"After [the police] saw the posts on social media, they said, 'Well, I guess since you all done put it out there with this negative vibe, we're going to assign a detective to the case,'" Mitchell said. "Within two hours they found our daughter. We couldn't of done that without social media and you guys."

Kelly Murphy, president and founder of the Omaha, Nebraska-based nonprofit missing person assistance group Project Jason, said it is not uncommon to hear families of the missing complain of what they feel is a lack of sensitivity by law enforcement agencies.

"For the families, when you don't know where your loved one is, it's a critical and frightening experience," Murphy told HuffPost. "I don't care whether they are kidnapped or a runaway; they are still missing and may be in danger. The bottom line is you don't know where they are or if they are safe."

Project Jason offers resources to families of the missing and has successfully organized grassroots efforts to pass missing-persons legislation.

Murphy started Project Jason after her son, Jason Jolkowski (pictured below), disappeared in June 2001. He remains missing today.

"I think a lot of it is a numbers thing, especially in a large metropolitan area," Murphy said of how police often react when teenagers go missing. "On any given day, a large city can have dozens of runaways and some are a revolving door, so I can understand how they can be desensitized to numbers, but that still does not excuse not being sensitive to a family who is frightened and doesn't know where their loved one is."

Mitchell said he is not angry with any one person in particular, but is disturbed by what he perceives as a lack of effort and empathy by police while the girls were missing.

"I'm glad they're safe and what not, but this is not dead for me," the father said. "The things we had to deal with the last two days -- that kind of behavior needs to be silenced. All cases need to be looked into."

Wilson agrees.

"Law enforcement is supposed to be there as a vehicle to help families find their missing loved ones and to be just callous or just not take the case seriously is a disservice to the citizens," she said. "And it's not just happening in Lafayette, it's happening across the country."

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http://theleaven.org/project-jason-shines-light-on-desperate-lives/

Project Jason shines light on desperate lives

Posted by Joe Bollig on August 26, 2016 in Archdiocese, Leaven News, Ministries
by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Marianne Asher-Chapman’s daughter Angie Yarnell disappeared on Oct. 25, 2003.

Angie’s husband, Michael Yarnell, later admitted to killing her, but to this day has refused to tell anyone where he put Angie’s body.

So Asher-Chapman keeps looking.

“I’ll never, ever give up looking for Angie — not ever. As long as I have breath, I’m looking for Angie until I bring her home,” she said.

“It’s a very desperate way of life,” she added.

Asher-Chapman was one of 19 people who attended the Vigil of Hope for All Missing Persons held on July 30 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. The vigil was part of the “Keys to Healing” retreat July 29-31, sponsored by Project Jason.

Project Jason, a 501©(3) organization, was established in 2003 to provide care and support for families of missing persons, primarily adults.

Becoming a relative of a missing person means having one’s normal life suddenly shifted to “a new life of gut-wrenching, grieving and struggles that seemingly have no end,” said Kerry Messer, from St. Genevieve County, Missouri.

Messer went to bed with his wife Lynn on July 7, 2014. When he awoke the next morning, she was gone. There was simply no trace of Lynn, then 52. They had been married for 36 years.

“We all know many people who have lost loved ones due to accidents and illnesses,” said Messer. “So, among my friends are widows and widowers. Yet, they can’t comprehend the type of depth of grieving when your wife is just — gone.”

Asher-Chapman said, “It’s like a chronic illness — you don’t ‘get it’ until you get it.”

Being the relative of a missing person is like living in a surreal, parallel universe. Suddenly, the world you took for granted becomes sinister and frustrating, said relatives of the missing. There is no resolution. The world is colored by doubt and unknowing, and the duty is to keep the missing loved one’s name in the public consciousness lest they be forgotten.

“You feel like you don’t fit in any more with the rest of the world, because [other people] don’t understand what you’re going through and feeling,” said Elizabeth Harris, who attended the retreat with her daughter Ronica Paltauf. “You react to things differently. You see life in a whole different way, too — you see the harshness and realities of life.”

Harris’ daughter, Roxanne Paltauf, went missing on July 7, 2006, in their hometown of Austin, Texas. Roxanne Paltauf was 18 at the time.

On any given day, there are as many as 100,000 active missing person cases in the United States, according to NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Most cases are resolved, but there are more than 40,000 sets of human remains that cannot be identified in evidence rooms of medical examiners and coroners across the nation. NamUS calls the unfound missing “the nation’s silent mass disaster.”

Despite the large number of missing, there is relatively little help for relatives of missing adults, said Kelly Murphy. She founded Project Jason after her then- 19-year-old son, Jason Jolkowski, vanished without a trace on June 13, 2001, in Omaha, Nebraska, while walking to meet a co-worker for a ride to work.

“What I found through the course of time and my own personal healing is that there is little assistance for families of missing adults,” said Murphy.

Murphy discovered that “no one gives you a handbook” on how to deal with this trauma. No one tells you how to deal with law enforcement, or the media, or how to cope.

“When the investigation hit a standstill, I felt God was calling me to take what I learned and help other families,” she said.

Project Jason teaches families how to heighten public awareness of their family’s case. Project Jason also offers guidance and emotional assistance.

“I found there was a gap,” said Murphy. “There wasn’t anyone providing these families emotional assistance. There wasn’t anyone out there teaching them . . . how this particular trauma affects the brain and then the body. We also teach them coping mechanisms and stress relievers, dealing with things that are frustrating, and changed relationships.”

These “survivors” need care for their minds, bodies and spirits — and the spiritual process was definitely an important part of the weekend. Faith in God can literally be a lifeline.

“We teach them what is the appropriate place in their life for ‘the search,’ and then to find themselves again — find joy and meaning in their life that has nothing to do with their missing loved one,” said Murphy. “You can feel joy without guilt.”

For information about Project Jason, click here, call (402) 932-0095; or write: Project Jason, P.O. Box 59054, Renton, WA 98058.

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