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Norm Carli, left, and William Sorukas, Jr., representatives of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Missing Persons Day 2019 in North Township

Contributed By:The 411 News

Search for missing family members and friends go beyond the police report

Diamond Bynum and King Walker, names that are brought to mind on the anniversaries of the disappearance of the aunt and her 2-year-old nephew from their home in Gary in July 2015. Najah Ferrell, the young mother from Avon, Indiana whose partial remains were found in April in a Crown Point pond after she had been reported missing in March. Teleka Patrick, the doctor from Kalamazoo, MI who had been reported missing in December 2013 and her body found in a Porter County lake in April 2014.

They are among over 600,000 persons reported missing each year in the U.S. by family members and friends waiting information from their local law enforcement. Saturday was Missing Persons Day 2019 in North Township, hosted by North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan to recognize what the Dept. of Justice calls the “nation’s silent mass disaster.”

Missing Persons Days are held across the country to help families and law enforcement agencies, letting them know that their searches can go beyond police reports.

North Township’s Missing Persons Day was actually held over two-days. On Friday, 80 local law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, and allied forensic professionals were in training, learning how to use the NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System} Program, an application that reports on and is a clearinghouse for the nation’s missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases.

The next day was for families and friends, learning how to use NamUs to search for their missing loved ones,

They were required to bring a missing person’s police report or they could have made it that day. Also needed were a photo of the missing person and if available any x-rays, dental records, medical records and other identifying documents including fingerprints. If they didn’t bring a DNA sample, cheek swabs were obtained from a biologically related family member in attendance.

After registering, they can access the system to search for matches. Scars and tattoos can be used for identification. A tattoo was used to identify Najah Ferrell.

Police don’t know everything said Indiana State Police Detective B.J. McCall, who attended the first day training session and helped register families and friends the second day. “I have only worked one missing persons’ case in my entire career. That’s why we need this training. My belief is education is a lifelong practice.” McCall’s only case was Teleka Patrick, the missing Michigan doctor. He said police are mostly trained in tactical measures – the use of weapons, patrol procedures, and defense methods.

North Township’s Missing Persons Day was the first NamUs Program training in Indiana said Melissa Gregory, the NamUs Regional Program Specialist and trainer. Training is provided free of charge by the DOJ’s National Institute of Justice.

Kelly Bridges, North Township’s activities director, is a registered NamUs user. When she was 8, her brother was reported missing. He was 27 then and would be 77 years old today. “Mental illness may have contributed to his disappearance. The last thing we knew about him was he purchased a bus ticket to Florida. We never heard anything else from him,” Bridges said. “I’m just continuing the search that my mother started.”

Attending Saturday’s session were William Sorukas, Jr. and Norm Carli, representing the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Sorukas came to Gary in 2015 and joined the search for Diamond Bynum and King Walker. The website has an age-progression image of what King Walker might look like today.

King Walker, age 2, left photo and an age-progression image of King showing what he might look like today at age 6

Story Posted:07/01/2019

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