FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Peggy Bettis,
SC State Outreach Coordinator
CUE Center for Missing Persons
National Missing Children’s Day
CUE Center for Missing Persons Commemorates in Myrtle Beach
May 25, 2016, Myrtle Beach, SC…… CUE Center for Missing Persons is planning a press conference to commemorate National Missing Children’s Day at Churches Assisting People (CAP) in Conway, 3074 Wright Blvd. at 10am. The family of missing Horry County man, Randy Davis, initiated a food drive and collections will be delivered to assist the organization.
Davis family members have also planned a candlelight vigil in Aynor Park at 6pm which is open to the public to offer prayers and hope that the missing will be found.
Each year since 1983, May 25th has been designated as National Missing Children’s Day to serve as a reminder that hundreds of children go missing daily. Ceremonies are planned across the country on this day honoring the missing children as well as the efforts of organizations and agencies dedicated to finding them.
Randy Davis has been missing from Aynor, SC since January 21, 2016 and is one of several missing persons from Horry County, including Zack Malinowski, Heather Elvis, and Brittanee Drexel.
“Every missing person is someone’s child,” quotes CUE Center founder, Monica Caison. She says, “Although we think of missing children as being small little kids, and many are, teenagers and adults who go missing also have parents and families who need to find them.”
National Missing Children’s Day is dedicated to the well-being and safety of children through bringing awareness to resources such as the Amber Alert, Child ID kits and organizations such as CUE Center for Missing Persons who are devoted to searching for all missing loved ones.
For information about missing persons and the CUE Center for Missing Persons, please refer to their website: http://ncmissingpersons.org
— CUE Center (@CUENEWS) May 24, 2016
Please see attached application if you are interested in becoming a part of the team as a State Outreach Coordinator (SORC) applications are still being accepted until February 15, 2015, thank you
State Outreach Coordinator
The SORC program was developed in March of 2012 to be an extension of CUE Center’s service to communities across the nation offering available people on the ground when a person becomes missing.
To have a person closer to a region to access the case needs and aid in the delivery of support and resources to each circumstance.
Bring forth a better understanding of crisis help, funding needs and offering an awareness of missing persons and issues in their respective states.
• Program Goals: Launch in March of 2012
• 3 Year to obtain 1 state coordinator per state
• 5 Year to obtain 4 state coordinators per state
Objective: to offer more efficient help on the ground to aid a missing person case – to network and build additional professional volunteer resources in more states for a wider reach – to obtain more funding on a national level – to successfully recover more missing persons – to foster the spirit of dedicated volunteerism – to gain more support for awareness of issues concerning victims left behind
CUE Center for Missing Persons
PO Box 12714
Wilmington, NC 28405
(910) 343-1131 (910) 232-1687
Office (910) 343-1131 24 hour line (910) 232-1687 Fax line (910) 399-6137
Join us for our upcoming national conference for missing persons and all who work in the arena from advocating, volunteering, investigation, search and rescue and the identification process of those who are lost. This event is open to all who support the mission of finding a resolution for families who have suffered a missing loved one and are or have been a victim of crime.
Please share this information to anyone in this line of advocacy or missing person work, family of a missing person or homicide victim; see below. To contact by email firstname.lastname@example.org
◊ Advocacy concerning missing persons, families left behind or homicide victim
◊ Service agencies, non profit organization, law enforcement, search teams/groups, private investigators, coroner or those who work in the identification process
◊ Volunteers who are interested in training and becoming more involved
To learn more about CUE Center for Missing Persons please visit us at our web site http://www.ncmissingpersons.org or email us email@example.com
Thank You to our 2016 Sponsors
THE PASSAGE AWARD In Memory of “Susan Murphy Milano”
This award is given to an individual, who has suffered the loss of a loved one by being a missing person, victim of homicide or one that has survived the cruelties from intimate partner violence. This award recognizes the survivor that has healed and who has risen above to contribute oneself to those who remain in need of guidance, empowerment, support and who continually hold a devotion to the cause.
The loss of Susan has been felt across the nation, she was a true supporter of the missing and the CUE organization. She remains truly missed by all.
Registration conference check in:
March 17, 2016, Thursday, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
March 18, 2016, Friday 7:00 am – 9:00 am
Note: The main hall entrance to the ballroom will remain open (Thursday) all day and evening hours for any participant or sponsor to set up items, informational handouts, missing person information or visuals, table display, banners, etc. When checking into the conference please request the person in charge for this area to help you in whatever you may need to assist you for a smooth process. You can also ship your items to the CUE Center, please be advised that the hotel will not handle items delivered to the hotel.
THE CONFERENCE CONCLUDES ON SUNDAY, MARCH 20th at 1:00 pm, Sunday you will join CUE Founder, Monica Caison in training, discussion, presentation of your conference plaque and a lunch.
SORC Meeting – Thursday, March 17, 2016
State Outreach Coordinators Meeting: Closed to the public, this meeting is for directors 9:00 am 5:00 pm (Lunch will be served during meeting)
To learn more about the program and get involved please contact CUE Center anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 910-232-1687.
This meeting for is for the annual gathering and training for State Outreach Coordinators.
TRAINING ASHI CPR Pro Course:
Thursday, March 17, 2016 (6:30 pm – 10:30 pm)
Instructor: Karin Bergholm
Karin Bergholm is a retired, Florida Law Enforcement officer, after proudly serving for 27.5 years. After retirement in 2012, she became a member of CUE and First Response Search Team, in Tallahassee.
Karin is a certified, adjunct instructor of CPR and First Responder for police recruits at The Florida Public Safety Institute, located near Tallahassee, Fl.
Karin is also in the process of training K-9 Trooper (a rescue dog) in the discipline of Human Remains Detection.
Kelly is a retired sergeant with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee, Fl. with 32 years of Law Enforcement experience and 8 years of Law Enforcement K-9 experience.
Kelly has been involved with Search and Rescue since 2004 and has certified canines in Human Remains Detection and Trailing. Her Certifications have been with North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) and through National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR) as well as Network of Canine Detector Services (NOCDS). Kelly has attended numerous seminars and classes, ranging from search and rescue techniques, crime scene preservation, NIMS, HAZMAT training, Blood borne Pathogens education, and is a CPR Instructor through the American Health and Safety Institute (ASHI). Kelly is a Florida State Outreach Coordinator for CUE Center for Missing Persons.
Certifications: Trailing (NAPWDA, NOCDS, NASAR), HRD NAPWDA, NASAR, NASAR SARTECH II, Florida State K9 Instructor Criminal Justice and Training Commission (CJSTC), First Aid Instructor (CJSTC), CPR Instructor (AMA), Trailing Instructor for NOCDS
Memberships and Affiliations: First Response Search Team (Team President), CUE Center for Missing Persons, Child Abduction Response Team, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, NASAR, NOCDS
In 1987 I began my career with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and started teaching part time at the law enforcement academy in 1994. My real passion was teaching and in 1999 I left LCSO and became a full time instructor at the law enforcement academy. In 2002 I became the Medical First Responder Program Coordinator at the Florida Public Safety Institute/Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy.
I’m a CPR and First Aid Instructor/Instructor Trainer and a Training Center Director for the American Safety and Health Institute. I have trained thousands of law enforcement, corrections and probation officers over the years in CPR and First Aid. I am a member of the First Response K-9 Search Team in Tallahassee, Florida and a State Outreach Coordinator.
We welcome this years videographer: Bryan Queen
Friday Night Conference Entertainment
Proclamation & Letters (2016)
TRAINING SESSION 2016
Topic: L.I.E.S. “When You Want to Know the Truth”
Believing people is the best way to know if they are lying
Mr. Clark also served two years as an Investigative Sergeant within the Connecticut State Police Internal Affairs Division and conducted investigations into police misconduct ranging from improper demeanor and complaints about motor vehicle stops to issues surrounding hostile work environments, civil rights violations, allegations of criminal activity, as well as administrative investigations of police involved shootings. During this time Mr. Clark was responsible for interviewing victims, witnesses and complainants along with interviewing and interrogating state and local police officers, and working with contractual and labor union issues.
Mr. Clark is a certified police instructor within the field of interview and interrogation through the Connecticut Police Officers Standards Training Council and has trained law enforcement officers on the local, state and federal level throughout the United States. He has also presented trainings and seminars on interviewing strategies locally and internationally for various organizations and at conferences, including the New England State Police Administrators Conference, the International Association of Forensic Linguistics, the American College of Forensic Examiners, Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, International Congress on Law and Mental Health in Italy and the International Conference on Investigative Interviewing in Canada and in England.
Throughout his career Mr. Clark has had advanced training in relevant areas including Interview and Interrogation Techniques, Advanced Interview and Interrogation, Analytic Interviewing, Cognitive Interviewing, Forensic Interviewing of Children, Interview and Interrogation for White Collar Crimes, Interview and Interrogation for Narcotics Investigations, International Conference on Investigative Interviewing, Statement Analysis, Scientific Content Analysis, Advanced Scientific Content Analysis, Eyewitness Evidence Training, Advanced Investigators School, Hostage Negotiation and Forensic Linguistics for Law Enforcement through the FBI Behavioral Science Unit.
Mr. Clark is actively engaged in academic research relating to improving interviewing techniques, cognitive interviewing and detecting deception during interviews. Mr. Clark is the President of LIES Linguistic Interrogation Expert Services which specializes in training, consultation and research within the field of investigative interviewing, criminal interrogation, investigative statement analysis, detecting deception, credibility assessment and related areas. When you need to know the TRUTH, your training should be from LIES”
Topic: “Using Forensic Science and Biometrics to help the missing and the most vulnerable”
Instructor: In 2004, Timothy Palmbach joined the faculty of the University of New Haven as an Associate Professor and Chair of the Forensic Science Department. He has been associated with the faculty of that University since 1984 and is Executive Director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. In his role with the Lee Institute he has provided capacity building and training to law enforcement personnel throughout the world.
Prior to his tenure at University of New Haven, Timothy Palmbach was a Major in the Connecticut State Police where he was the Commanding Officer/Director for the Division of Scientific Services, Department of Public Safety. He had general jurisdiction over the affairs of Division of Scientific Services, including the Forensic Science Laboratory, Controlled Substance & Toxicology Laboratory and the Computer Crime & Electronic Evidence Unit. During his 22 years as a sworn member of the Connecticut State Police he was a Detective and then Sergeant with the Major Crime Squad, and assignments included investigative and crime scene responsibilities for homicides and other felony cases.
Since 2013 Professor Palmbach has been engaged with the implementation of advanced forensic investigative methods in the war against trafficking in persons (TIP) and related issues such as counter terrorism. He worked in conjunction with non-governmental organizations and government officials to actually employ the collection of DNA based evidence during active, undercover investigations involving cases of human trafficking in the countries of Nepal and Costa Rica. His international work in this area includes the countries of Nepal, Costa Rica, Poland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, and Djibouti. In addition, he worked with officials from Croatia in post war efforts, primarily focused on the identification of victim’s recovered from mass graves. In 2015, several US based law enforcement agencies were provided with training and assistance with the implementation of specialized forensic analytic programs designed to help identify human trafficking victims and pimps based on their online activities.
He received his Juris Doctor in 1998 from the University of Connecticut School of Law. His Masters Degree is in Forensic Science with a Criminalistics concentration from the University of New Haven. He received his undergraduate BS degree in Forensic Science and Chemistry also from the University of New Haven in 1982.
Topic: “Foundations of Forensic Facial Imaging”
Instructor: Sergeant (Ret.) Michael W. Streed is an internationally-recognized forensic facial imaging expert based in Southern California. For 35 years he has blended his rich law enforcement experience and artistic skills to provide forensic facial imaging services to some of the largest, most diverse, police agencies in the United States, including the Los Angeles and Baltimore City Police Departments, helping them solve some of their most difficult cases.
Michael is also the owner of SketchCop Solutions, LLC – Law Enforcement’s Source for Facial Imaging and Biometric Identification, where he consults with law enforcement, private entities and the media. For more information and an extended bio, please visit: www.SketchCop.com
Topic: Using cell phone data analysis to find missing persons
Mike Melson is Founder and President of Hawk Analytics–a company that develops applications that extract rapid answers and compelling visual evidence from location-based data. Mike holds both an undergrad and advanced degree in software architecture, both from the University of Southern California. He is a cell phone industry veteran with over a decade of experience analyzing cell phone records for law enforcement and has worked in the software industry for over 25 years.
As a passion, Mike began working with law enforcement as a pilot and search volunteer for missing persons. Having worked in the cell phone industry as an engineer, Mike was soon analyzing cell phone records in some of the missing person cases. During that time, Mike began developing software tools to better visualize the records. 2011 marked the first time Mike was directly involved in solving a missing person cold case entirely through phone records.
After helping Law Enforcement solve a few more missing persons cases based on phone records, Mike realized that those visualization & analysis tools he’d been working on could make an incredible difference in more cases if it were made available to a wider audience. In 2013, the first commercially available version of those software tools was launched as CellHawk.
Since that time, CellHawk has been adopted by over 100 Law Enforcement Agencies around the country, including some of the largest cities in the country. CellHawk has been used to help Law Enforcement solve numerous cases utilizing phone records. Last year, CellHawk was listed as one of the best new technologies in Law Officer Magazine’s Hot Product List.
Mike currently lives in Southern California with his wife, Bridget and three children, Lucas, Landon and Allie. First and foremost, his passion and focus in life is to lead with honesty and integrity in all that he does.
Topic Guest Speakers 2016
Topic: “Media for the missing, help or harm?”
During his career he has covered high profile stories such as OJ Simpson, Natalee Holloway’s disappearance, Scott Peterson’s trial, Anna Nicole Smith investigation, Drew Peterson and Casey Anthony trials, Virginia Tech shootings, Matthew Shepard’s murder and cult leader Warren Jeffs trial for the major news networks, just to name a few. Steph’s work as an investigative journalist was instrumental in uncovering documents that triggered the re-classification of Bolingbrook Il. police officer Drew Peterson’s 3rd wife, Kathleen Savio’s death, from an accident to a homicide. Her body was exhumed, re-examined and Peterson was eventually tried and convicted for her murder.
Steph’s investigative work on the Stacey Peterson disappearance is also profiled in the book “The Murder Business” by Mark Fuhrman. Another book “Portrait Of a Monster” details Steph’s journey through Thailand, tracking down and interviewing Joran Van Der Sloot in regards to the disappearance and murder of Natalee Holloway.
Steph was featured as a crime reporter in a true-crime series “Bloodwork” on A&E; and appears in a recent special on CNN called “Buried Secrets”. CNN profiled Steph’s investigative work on the disappearance and unsolved murder of the McStay family in southern California. Steph has also appeared on HLN, Fox News, CBS, and Investigation Discovery and has written for Village Voice, Brill’s Content, 429.com, Court TV, Fox News.com, and ABC News.com. Steph’s blog #Justice features unique and breaking crime reports, live trial coverage, and full-length feature stories.
Steph’s compassion and innate ability to connect with the people is at the heart of his unmatched skill in creating compelling story lines that captivate viewing audiences. With a firm understanding of the law and the justice system, Steph is the go-to-guy for crime and justice and a known voice for the missing, murdered and misunderstood.
Topic: Keeping the Faith (in the media) Getting and keeping your case in the public eye!
Jon Leiberman is an Emmy award-winning investigative correspondent, host, producer, author and victim advocate. He has also created and executive produced original video series for the web in addition to consulting major corporations and media entities on content development and execution.
Jon has filed hundreds of reports on fugitives across the country and abroad for the FOX TV show “America’s Most Wanted.” An expert in all things crime, he has appeared on national shows including “TODAY”, “Shepard Smith’s Fox Report”, “Nancy Grace,” and “The Maury Povich Show,” and is quoted extensively on crime stories in newspapers throughout the country.
He sits on the board of PAVE and the national domestic violence registry. Jon is President of CommandCommunications – a full service communications firm.
Topic: Gangs 101 and Warning Signs of Gang Involvement
Presented by Detective Sergeant Jeff Rohena, Detective Kate McHugh, and Ms. Kristy Williams
Gangs 101 training includes education on signs, symbols, colors, dress, and language of gang sets. This presentation will inform the audience of current local trends, gang activity happening in our community, and the gang member validation process. The audience will be educated on identifying warning signs of gang involvement and why youth are drawn toward gang activity. Included in this presentation will be an overview of the New Hanover County Gang Task Force, as well as, the ELEMENTS- Youth Violence Intervention Program and the vital role they play in our community and in the schools.
Victims Hours Presentations
Families of the cases featured will share their story about their loved one and the struggles in an unforgiven journey
National Candle Light Service
The annual service is hosted by the CUE Center for Missing Persons in honor of those once missing, now recovered. Families from across the country attend the water front ceremony seeking comfort, supporting the thousands who remain missing in “the unveiling of the wall”. Come and join those left behind for a beautiful tribute along Wilmington’s Cape Fear River front victim testimonies, musical dedication and so much more. Candles will be provided. The service is a part of the weekend long national conference 2016.
Saturday March 19, 2016 Time: 7:30 pm (Open to the public and candles will be provided)
Mistress of Ceremony – Sandra McClammy “The Midday Miss on Coast97.3”
Sandra McClammy aka “Sandra, The Midday Miss” was born and raised in Wilmington, NC. A graduate of the city’s inner city high school, New Hanover High, and the city’s college, UNCW has afforded her an excellent balance. As a teen growing up in the “hood” she vowed to never forget her roots and to grow socially in a manner by which she could have a conversation with anyone. As she grew into an adult, she learned how it is essential to recognize and embrace the desperate educational, social and economic conditions that affect young people. Today she has placed herself in the educational arena and entertainment world and thus educates youth via “edutainment”.
As a dancer and radio personality, Sandra understands how movement and music can provide solstice to the soul. With this Sandra also believes that as an educator it is critical to study and understand how we as adults can continue to help youth succeed despite the overwhelming odds against them. They must believe that they have a significant role in our society. Sandra is a UNCW graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature & Language and a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts. Among the many boards and committees she serves on from the UNCW Alumni Board of Directors as Vice- Chair, to the Black Arts Alliance of Wilmington, she is also a proud member of the Wilmington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. As a member of worldwide DJ coalition, Core DJs, she is the host and the producer of the syndicated CORE DJ Radio Show. For Cumulus Broadcasting she is the music director and midday host on COAST 97.3. Sandra has been in radio for 17 years.
Guest Speaker – “I’m Holding On” – Dawn Drexel
Dawn Drexel is the mother of missing Brittanee Drexel. She is from Rochester, NY and lived for a time in Myrtle Beach, SC to be active in searches and activities surrounding her case . Dawn has campaigned nationally to bring attention to, not only her daughter’s case, but other missing persons across the country. She participated as a Board Member for CUE Center for Missing Persons for several years and has advocated and supported other families with missing loved ones for the last 7 years. She currently lives in Rochester near her family and two other children.
Reading of the Poem Dedication – Sheree Justus
Sheree has been a CUE volunteer since the late 90’s and is dedicated to the cause and the families that suffer a missing loved one. Her search for the right words to address those in need of hope each year are of a great need and one she does with honor.
Vocal Tribute – Charles Deans (I sure miss you)
Charles Deans born in Wilson county, NC, and resides in Brunswick county, NC with his wife and 3 children. He is works in construction renovation. Charles started singing at 16, and still enjoys playing the guitar and singing for fun.
Last year his baby sister Alicia Deans became missing on April of 2015; the CUE center was a tremendous help to our family during this horrible time. We are all truly thankful for such a great organization affording us a resolution!
National Prayer – Pastor Angie Davis
Reverend Angie Davis is fully ordained as a minister of the gospel. She has been in many positions of leadership in and outside of the church. Her present position is as an ordained Elder at Inspirational House of Praise in Leland, NC, where she is also the Praise and Worship leader. She is passionate in her endeavor of preaching and teaching the gospel as well as being a spiritual counselor to those in need.
She is also employed with local Ophthalmologist, Dr. Laura Harris, where she is the Surgical Coordinator. At present, she has been committed to officiating the National Candlelight Vigil Prayer for CUE for many years. It is her prayer that God will give the families comfort and courage as well as Hope through the Word of God and the knowledge that He is always there to lift them up. She is the mother of two children, Matt and Hannah. The grandmother of three, Caleb, Kameron and Savannah. She resides in in Winnabow, NC.
Vocal Tribute – Charles Deans
Candle Light Service Honorees
Edward Lewis Alicia Deans
Alquon Flowers Robert Weaver
This year’s Tour Honoree is Donna Ingersoll
Scars, Marks, Tattoos: Tattoo of a Cross on her right arm.
Special Identifiers: Glasses and her right index finger is shorter
Details of Disappearance
On December 16, 1990 at approximately 11;45 P.M Donna Ingersoll walked away from a private residence located in Wabasha MN. Donna had been drinking and was involved in a fight with her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.
She ran out the back door and has not been heard of since. It was a very cold winter night and it is unclear if Donna had a coat with her. Investigative Agency Wabasha Police Department ( Minnesota ) 651-565-3361
WHAT IS A RALLY STOP?
A rally stop is a place that is pre set by anyone who wishes to host one “see below” for suggested person(s). Once a location is secured CUE will inform the host of time and date of arrival. Each stop is one hour and a half long for whatever program the host wishes to have and feature; this is your time to bring an awareness to your community of missing persons.
WHAT ARE SOME IDEAS FOR A RALLY STOP?
Candle light or prayer vigils, clothes line display project, lantern launch
Balloon release, flower toss, butterfly release, roadside displays or demonstrations
Display Board, Banners, Signs, Marques
Guest Speakers; law enforcement, town/state dignitaries, community leaders, pastor, etc.
Tribute performances (vocal or dance)
Tables set up for displays of missing persons photos and information
Public event or safety activities
Invite the families of unsolved homicide, missing, public, family, friends and media (our team will aid in media coverage)
The most important thing is to be creative in your rally stop
WHAT TYPE OF LOCATIONS HAVE BEEN USED FOR RALLY STOPS?
Police – Sheriff or police departments
Government agencies, i.e. Mayor, town hall
Parking lots of stores that have frontage or businesses alike
Home of the families of the missing
Parks of any kind or large grassy areas
Local churches, schools, community buildings
National Tour Purpose and Inspiration
The annual tour was created to generate new interest in cold cases of missing people across our nation. The inspiration came in 2004 from the case of North Carolina college student Leah Roberts, who had gone on a cross-country trip of self-exploration. Her wrecked and abandoned vehicle was found, but Leah is still missing. Leah’s case went cold and interest faded until CUE volunteers set out on a grueling 14-day trip to retrace her route and inform the media of all those who were missing in the path of the tour. In the years to follow, it only seemed right to keep hope alive after families across the country voiced the need for more help and supported the tour idea.
National Tour Objective
The national road tour, called “On the Road to Remember,” is an awareness campaign that focuses on missing persons cases that have gone cold or have not received appropriate media coverage on the local level – much less the national level.. The tour, which travels through many states annually, provides that attention.
In all cases of missing people, it is vital to inform the public of the missing person’s circumstancesO quickly and to disseminate that information to the media and the public. In most cases where details are released immediately to the public through an organized campaign, the public brings forth information that aids in the investigation and or the location of the victim. The media plays a significant role in getting the word out on the behalf of the missing person and should be recognized as a vital resource to any investigation.
Interest in many of the cases we have featured in previous tours has been renewed. The media has learned about local cases they were unaware of; case investigations have been renewed, and searches conducted. Information has resulted in new leads in some cases, and has even helped identify an unknown decedent and in 2008 solved a cold case of twenty eight years. And finally, each tour some of the missing featured have been found from various efforts, which is the main reason we conduct the tour despite the toll it takes on our all-volunteer staff.
It is the belief of the CUE Center for Missing Persons that all investigations, the public, volunteers and the media should work in collaboration on cases involving missing children and adults; until this happens, their will continue to be cases of the missing labeled “cold” or “inactive.”
WHAT DO I NEED TO SUBMIT MY MISSING PERSON
All vital stats on missing person
Agency and law enforcement contact numbers and web sites concerning missing person
Written consent for your missing person to be featured in the national tour line up
CUE Center for Missing Persons
PO Box 12714
Wilmington, NC 28405
(910) 343-1131 (910) 232-1687
Throughout all stages of a missing persons investigation, up to the point of its positive or negative resolution, there is only one verifiable victim: the family of that missing person. The missing person might have been abducted, or worse, but from the moment that someone considers the absence of a loved one to necessitate a 911 call, the family that makes that call is going to be caught in a whirlpool of fear, panic and helplessness that most people dont understand and law enforcement officials rarely have the resources to address in any sustained way.
In Wilmington, however, these families have an advocate, a fierce, hands-on assistant in the search for missing loved ones. Her name is Monica Caison, and shes the founder and director of the Community United Effort (CUE) Center for Missing Persons, a nonprofit organization based in Wilmington, which, since 1994, has been aggressive in its attempts to keep missing person cases from going “cold” or “inactive.” By marshalling nationwide resources that include law enforcement personnel and an army of volunteers, the CUE Center has been instrumental in returning loved ones to their families, creating a sort of template for families confronted by such a loss, a blueprint for action that combines elements of the actual search process with a powerful family support tool hope.
“Shes tops, as far as Im concerned,” says Marc Benson, a private investigator, former detective in the New Hanover County Sheriffs Department, recent candidate for the sheriffs job and the host of Blue Line Radio on The Big Talker (106.3 FM). “I first ran into her 16 or 17 years ago, when I was a detective sergeant in the Sheriffs Department.”
Bensons first impression of Caison left him thinking she was just a “soccer mom,” doing what she could to find people whod gone missing thinking, too, “Good for her, but were the professionals here, so dont call us, well call you.”
In the spring of 1998, Benson found himself re-assessing his original impressions of Caison and her organization. In April of that year, 32-year-old bride-to-be Peggy Carr was abducted from a mall parking lot in Wilmington. One day, she was here; the next day, she was not. Shed disappeared quickly and completely, and lacking evidence to the contrary, law enforcement officials considered the possibility that her disappearance, in spite of her impending marriage, was voluntary. Without a clue to work on, the investigation languished. Displeased with this sort of response from law enforcement officials, Peggys mother called Monica Caison, whose private phone remains the direct line to what was then the fledgling and relatively unknown CUE Center for Missing Persons. Seven months after Peggys disappearance, Caison and her volunteer army were instrumental in discovering the whereabouts of Carrs remains in Bladen County.
“It became a multi-state investigation, a national media case,” says Caison, “and it taught us everything. We worked side by side with law enforcement, set up a 24-hour tip line. The FBI would pick up our logs. We were learning, too. It was the first time, really, that the full weight of the resources (we had) came to bear. We kept (the case) in the public eye, just kept plugging and plugging, constantly searching. It was our landmark case.”
More important than Caisons literal presence beating the bushes, actually searching was the support she gave to the family.
“Monica would just sit for hours and comfort me,” said Peggy Carrs mother in an interview for People magazine in March 2009, months after her daughters body had been discovered.
“My respect for her increased because of the presence she had with that family,” says Benson, who, at the time, was looking on from the Sheriff Departments sidelines, because it was a Wilmington PD case. “She went up there (to Bladen County) with volunteers and canvassed the area with pictures. She made sure that everybody up there looked at every little detail (coming out of the investigation). I was quite impressed with the resources she was able to pull together.”
What is so striking about Monica Caisons work with the CUE Center is the individual, up-close-and-personal effort she invests in countless, physical searches for these people, and the tireless campaign she wages to keep families in the loop of any ongoing investigation. Law enforcement agencies, from the local to the national, may falter during an investigation, due to a lack of either resources or will, but from the moment the CUE Center and, specifically, Monica Caison steps aboard, families are assured that their missing loved one will not, in Monicas lifetime, be forgotten until theyre found. In most cases (though not all), the outcome is not good. Caison is more often than not searching for a body, and she is known for a stubborn, relentless and often un-appreciated approach to any obstacles in her way.