7/5/08 Project Jason Presents "A Mother's Day Miracle, Missing for 14 Years"
A Mother’s Day Miracle, Missing for 14 Years
Written by Kelly Jolkowski with Vicki Hamilton Loux
For 14 long years, Vicki Hamilton Loux had not seen the face of her beloved son, Mark Hamilton. Mark became mentally ill as a young man, and had fled the care center where he was staying.
For 11 of those 14 years, Vicki had never once spoken to someone who knew personally what it is like to have a missing loved one. Family members had a difficult time in dealing with Mark’s disappearance, even to the point of denial. Vicki was alone in her grief and nearly alone in her search. For her, the search was like grasping at a shadow, the shadow of her missing son. Each time she felt close, the shadows of what could be eluded her. His face remained as dark as the shadows, although her hope was a light that never faded.
In January of 2005, Vicki was given a glimmer of hope when authorities in Florida spoke to Mark. Sadly, they did not comprehend the seriousness of his need for help, and they let him go. Vicki was not even informed of this for three days…three days too late to be able to find him again.
Authorities in Missouri, where Mark disappeared from all those years ago, closed Mark's missing person case. Neither they, nor the Florida police, would reopen the case despite Vicki's efforts. They considered Mark “found”. His mental illness had no bearing whatsoever.
In mid-June 2005, Vicki did find someone, although it was not Mark. Vicki found Project Jason on the Internet, and sent me a brief email about her situation.
I remember that night well. I was sitting at the PC, catching up with emails and various tasks. The time stamp on the email was 12:21am. I read it minutes after it came in.
I have a mentally ill missing adult son. He has been missing for 11 years. The police in my area wouldn't even file a missing person report until last year & this was after I threatened to go to the media. He was found in another state, far from me, in 01/2005. They asked him a couple of questions, let him go & now he is missing again. They immediately took him out of the missing person police databank. And now no one will file a missing person report again. I need help. Will you please contact me?
This woman was still up. She pleaded for help in her email. I picked up the phone and called her right then and there. After 11 long years, Vicki finally had someone to talk to who truly understood what it is like to live with a missing son. There was relief in her voice, even with a major hurdle in front of us.
We did not have a reported missing person’s case.
Due to privacy issues regarding adults, agencies like ours must be able to verify that there exists an open missing person’s case with a law enforcement agency, otherwise we face possible legal issues with that missing adult. Our hands are tied without it.
As we were talking, Vicki explained the St. Louis connection to Mark’s disappearance. It is their hometown. Bells went off in my head. I knew an officer from St. Louis, Major Robert Lowery. (now retired)
I met him while at the National Conference: Identifying the Missing, held in Philadelphia earlier that same year. He struck me as being genuinely concerned about the missing. As we have another family we assist in St. Louis, I had made it a point to approach him about their case. He told me to contact him at any time if I needed assistance. I was now going to take him up on his offer. I told Vicki that I made no guarantees about what he could or would do for her, but that I would try.
6/17/05: Letter to Major Lowery from me:
Dear Major Lowery,
I met you in Philadelphia and asked you for your help with a family that my organization is assisting in East St Louis.
I am writing to you today to ask you to intervene on behalf of a missing mentally ill man, Mark Hamilton. His information is below, and photos attached. I understand that he was reported missing from St Louis at one point, but that authorities found him in FL, and let him go. Police then closed the case. Despite the mother's efforts and her pleas to both FL and St Louis PD, no one will open the case because of what appears to be prejudice in regards to an adult case. It doesn't sound as if anyone truly understands the part that Mark's mental illness plays in this. He is, and should be, considered endangered.
He has been missing for a total of 11 years, with the exception of the incident in FL, in which the police "found" him, but then let him go. His mother has exhausted every avenue to locate her son. Since the police will not file a report, she cannot get help from agencies such as ours. If only they would just take the report, and then add him in the NCIC. At that point, other agencies can step in and help the mother find her son so that she can help him to become functional again.
I am a realist. I can understand police not taking a report of a missing adult when they have left a goodbye note and it is clear they wish to be left alone, but this is an entirely different matter. I do not understand why he cannot be classified as missing when his illness clearly mandates proper treatment and care. Does this not make him endangered? All we want is to get him on the books and in the NCIC.
Another consideration is that if entered in the NCIC, that could help find him if he were to be deceased. We both know from our discussions at the conference that we need to take the necessary steps to "find" the Unidentified as well.
I want to help this mother, but my hands are tied unless the police will take a report. Can you help her with that, please?
Kelly Jolkowski, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder,Project Jason
Now would we wait and see if I was right about Major Lowery’s compassion toward missing person cases.
Jump to Part II