Saturday, September 30, 2006

9/30/06 Project Jason Family Member Chats

One of the most common questions I receive from families of the missing is in regards to local support groups. Family members are shocked when I tell them there is no such thing, other than one I know of in Indianapolis.

We would attempt to try to start one locally, but because of privacy laws, I generally do not know the contact information for local family members, unless they find us on the internet or hear about us via word of mouth. Since I am unable to get in touch with these families, we cannot offer a support group.

Family members of missing children can be assigned an experienced volunteer to call them on the phone through the wonderful organization, TEAM Hope, for which I am also a volunteer. Team Hope is a division of NCMEC.

Family members of missing adults can utilize the Hope2Support forum sponsored by the National Center for Missing Adults at The forum can be found at Registration and validation of the missing person case is required.

These two groups are excellent ways for families of missing persons to get support from persons who truly understand what they are going through in this situation. However, in both cases, real time, conversational interaction with other family members is lacking. To try to address this need, Project Jason began a bi-monthly text chat on the internet. We started with a small core group of chatters, and add a few more each time. Even though we haven’t met that many times, I see the beginnings of friendships among those who share this sad, but common bond.

We’re also striving to increase the value of these chats, and have begun to pursue having special guests who are experts in different areas of our cause. These guests will be on hand to answer questions from family members in relation to their particular field of expertise. We’ll be in contact with professionals in the areas of Law Enforcement, media, DNA, heads of other organizations, grief and trauma, search teams, and many more. There will be a guest for one of the two chats per month, with the other chat reserved for interaction with the family members of missing persons.

We will post the transcripts of the chats with guests so that persons who are unable to attend can have this valuable information provided made available to them. If you are a family member of a missing person and are interested in coming to this online chat, please let us know, and we will include you in the email list that will contain the details of the chat and where to go on the Internet. Generally, our chats are held on Tuesdays at 7:30pm CST.

Let me know if you would like to be on the email list for chat events by writing to kelly.jolkowski(at sign) Please use Family Member Chat in the subject line of your email.

We arranged for a special guest for the last Project Jason Family Member Chat. His name is Duane Bowers, and he is a nationally known and respected grief and trauma counselor. He also specializes in the type of loss faced by families of the missing, and is one of only two known counselors who have in depth case knowledge of our special needs. We are privileged to have him come and join us, because, as you might imagine, he has a very full schedule. And in good news, Duane has agreed to come back and join us periodically.

On the post below this one, you can read the transcript from that chat.

Here is Duane’s bio:

Duane T. Bowers, LPC is a grief therapist and educator in private practice, and author of Guiding Your Family Through Loss and Grief. As a therapist Duane’s specialty is working with survivors of traumatic death and suicide, which includes assisting families who must identify loved ones at the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, through the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing. He also provides support to families of abducted, missing, exploited and murdered children through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

In addition, Duane serves as a training consultant to NCMEC, and is deployed by them to provide crisis intervention at Amber Alert sites with Team Adam. He also serves as a consultant and trainer for Team HOPE, a telephone support line for parents of missing children, and has provided services to AMECO (Association of Missing and Exploited Children Organizations).

As an educator, Duane teaches seminars nationally, internationally and regionally on dying, death and grief, as well as trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and traumatic loss. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Counseling at Trinity College in Washington DC, and has been an invited guest lecturer for graduate and undergraduate classes at the University of Maryland, Howard University, University of the District of Columbia, Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University and Gallaudet University.

Duane is responsible for the clinical supervision and training of staff and volunteers for a variety of organizations that deal with trauma and loss, and serves as an on-call hospice bereavement counselor. He served as the Director of Training and Education at the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing in Washington DC, and was the Senior Director of Emergency and International Services for the National Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross. Duane spent three months during the summer of 1999 in Macedonia/ Kosovo/Albania supervising family reunification work in camps with war refugees.

In September 2001, Duane responded to the Pentagon immediately following the terrorist attack on September 11th, providing support to rescue and recovery workers. He continues to volunteer with the Red Cross as a Disaster Mental Health Technician, and with the Capital Area Crisis Response Team as a therapist, educator, and as a member of the Board of Directors.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

9/27/06 Transcript of Project Jason Family Member Chat

This is the transcript from the Project Jason Family Member Chat held on Wednesday, September 27, 2006, with guest Duane Bowers, nationally known and highly respected grief and trauma counselor. An explanation of the chat purpose, and more about Duane, will be noted on the post made after this one.

To protect the privacy of the family members participating in the chat, all identities, dates, and locations have been falsified other than my own and Duane's.

I took the liberty of bolding some chosen key phrases that I believe may help other family members of missing persons who were unable to attend the chat and are reading this.

If you do not have a missing person in your life, use the words below to aid you in understanding what we go through, and why we need your help and support.


Kelly: Good evening and welcome to the Project Jason Family Member Online Chat.
Opening comments, Duane?

Duane: Hi, this is Duane Bowers, and I want to thank Kelly for inviting me. I'm new at chatting so bear with me.

Kelly: Several in here are also new, so we understand.

Duane: I look forward to this evening and hope I have some info that may be helpful.

Kelly: Ok, Mary, go ahead please.

Mary: I'm Mary, Mother of Beth, missing since Oct. 18 2003, 15 yrs. at the time of her disappearance.

Duane: Hi Mary.

Mary: I've feeling extremely depressed ---and feelings of guilt--that I could have somehow made better decisions about allowing her to go stay with her cousins, where she disappeared --I feel it's my fault I allowed her to stay there. Oct 18th is coming up again.

Duane: Your feelings are normal, but how do they manifest? Physically, emotionally, to the point of interfering with normal routine?

Mary: When I come home from work or school, and I'm alone. I cry a lot and stay in bed.

Duane: I understand. With the anniversary coming, what do you anticipate the day will be like?

Mary: I pray that I will get a call from Beth.

Duane: That's a great prayer, but what have you planned alternatively?

Mary: a prayer vigil

Duane: Excellent. I think I may have gotten you off track. Do you have a specific question?

Mary: no

Duane: In addition to the vigil, what plans have you made just for you?

Mary: I haven't thought about that.

Duane: If she has a favorite thing to do like hike in the woods or gardening or going to the mall, could you 'spend time with her' in that activity...Just for you?

(long pause)
Kelly: Mary, would you like to think about this and come back to it on the next round?

Mary: yes

Kelly: OK, no problem. Jennifer, please go ahead.

Jennifer: Jennifer, daughter of missing Beverly, age 59 then, missing since 10/09/04, suspected foul play

Duane: Hi Jennifer

Jennifer: After the disappearance, I immediately took leaves of absence from my full-time and 2 part-time jobs. After 3 months had gone by, I decided to resign so that I could focus as much time as possible on the search for my Mother, gaining more coverage of her story, and raising awareness on missing persons cases. Now, many months later, I am working only part-time by choice and living on my savings.

Here`s my question: Many people question me as to how I was able to just quit working and make comments about how I should get on with my life and how nice that must be to not work and how lucky I am. When I get comments like these, I feel the urge to sarcastically ask them What is lucky about having to search for my missing mother!?!?!?

How do I politely tell them that my work status and what I have chosen to do and how I am able to afford to live is none of their business? I know I should just ignore people like this, but I have trouble doing that. They don’t have a clue what emotions I feel and what I must do at times just to get through the day.

Duane: That's the key, they don't have a clue...You might explain that searching for your mother and working for the 'missing' cause has become your career, and that jobs are what you do to support your career. If they ask for more information, they are interested If not, they've already made up their mind about your status, and nothing you say will change that.

Jennifer: Very well stated, Duane.

Duane: Our career is what sustains and fulfills us, and at this point in your life you are sustained by your career of searching for mom and 'missing'. That needs no further explanation. (end of thought)

Jennifer: It sounds very good to hear it from you. Thank you

Kelly: Interesting question, Jennifer..thank you. Letmein, are you ready?

letmein: I am. Hello everyone..To the others here, I am so sorry for your losses. Duane, thank you for being here.

Duane: Hi, letmein

letmein: I am not able to let my search for my son Jarred, missing since his 21st birthday, November 24, 2001 be my "career". I feel great guilt over that. I need to be moving heaven and earth, and I just simply don't know what else to do.

Duane: Help me with what you said...what is moving heaven and earth?

letmein: Like our Kelly here..doing something that makes a difference..getting the word out..screaming my lungs out and being heard for my son..

Duane: If career is not the right word, then has it become your life?

letmein: I have not been able to let it become my life. I have a little grandson who is handicapped who lives with me full time. After Jarred, his sister went over the deep end into drugs. I am overwhelmed with those two. My Jarred gets what I can give, but I know it's not enough. I sometimes hate myself for that...

Duane: Ah, I see. Of those you mentioned who needs you the most right this minute?

letmein: Sometimes people say:.”Oh Look. God took one son and gave you another.”...meaning my grandson. I want to just cry. What if Jarred did not die that night? What is he is alive out there and wandering homeless with schizophrenia. My God, he could be waiting for me to find him right this minute. How could I have let him down like that?

Duane: I understand the thought, and while this is a rational response, how many people would be hurt if searching was all you did?

letmein: What if he killed himself that night, and I will never know because we will never find him? I don't even know where to search...not any more.

Duane: What if's are the worst part of this. Of course you don't...what human would? I'm not sure I can give you an answer to this pain except to say…..

letmein: No human would, and yet, who will if I don't? Do I just leave him out there? Lord, it's horrible. I am all he has..who else would care?

Duane: What gives you peace, if even for a moment?

letmein: My belief in the fact that I will see him again in my future. I am a believer..I know that Jarred and I will meet again. That gives me peace..helping another gives me peace...

Duane: what ways do you see yourself helping others?

letmein: In anyway available to me. I have many opportunities with the people that my drug addicted daughter knows…also the families of my grandson's acquaintences who often "think" they have problems. I am now a more empathetic person, and now I care as never before.

Duane: I don't have the perfect words, but your faith is the source of your strength. Stay with your faith and forget what people say, or what you think their expectations are.

letmein: Thank you friend..I will try with all my heart.

Duane: The people who care are the ones who support your faith. (end of thought)

Kelly: I have a question for someone who couldn't get in:

Clare, Mother of missing Robert, age 30 at time of disappearance, missing since 12/14/03, unknown circumstances. My son disappeared from Denver, CO. I live in Fresno, CA. I constantly struggle with the need to be in Denver to work his case, but my job is in Fresno. I’ve used up all of my savings and run my credit card up $10,000 looking for my son.

I don’t know where to draw the line or what to do. I can’t replace a son, and he is clearly my top priority. Yet, friends tell me not to jeopardize my job or finances any further, as I’ll dig a hole so deep I can’t get out. The guilt is enormous. I can replace a job, BUT I’m 59 and not at a great hiring age. I feel guilty and feel like I should be in Denver, but am afraid of making an emotional decision, not a smart one. How do you balance the need to do whatever you can to find your child, and the need to make a living?

Duane: You can't search when you're trying to survive yourself. This results in two victims. Picture as honestly as you can what life would be like in Denver. Is there a way you can make it work? What will you feel when you are there....more at ease or less? Is Denver a symbol for you, but actually going would be more painful? The point I'm trying to make is be sure that going to Denver doesn't end up causing more pain on top of the cost and struggle for employment. (end of thought)

Kelly: Thank you, Duane. Christina, do you have a question for Duane?

Christina: Yes, thank you...
Christina, wife of missing Alan, age 31 at time of disappearance, missing since 6/11/2005/ unknown circumstances.

Duane: Hi Christina, This must be a rough time for you.

Christina: I’m not used to this yet..I'm a bit's my question...Alan disappeared of his own volition. It was shocking and out of nowhere, but clear from the way he left that he meant to do it. Sometimes I feel that looking for him is conflictual...does he want me to find him if he disappeared on purpose? How do I handle this? Would he be mad? Do I "respect" this choice he made & go on...we had been separated which makes me feel more guilty. We were still so close & unresolved.

Duane: Worrying about his feelings is perhaps not the question, but what do you need to be able to let him go. Searching is a normal response for having a bond's called Attachment Theory in mental health circles. However, at what point does the search interfere with the rest of your life? Is it time to find another way to let him go? Would that be more positive or is searching still a must?

Christina: But maybe he eventually did lose his mind after he left...I'm not answering your question...he would need help, he could be dead already...if he did come back, we might never get back together . When you say "is it time to let him go" I start crying!!!

Duane: (feel free to answer that question)

Christina: If he needs help, then I might be the only one who can help him...but he might want me to stay the *&^% away.

Duane: What hurts worse? The thought of letting him go, or the pain of searching? Your question was how to handle's a suggestion..

Christina: This is making me break down...I don't want to let go but what is it that is there?

Duane: Make a decision to either search or move on (your words). If you decide to continue searching, give yourself a time frame and during that time, don't second guess yourself. By questioning what you’re doing it becomes more difficult. When the time period is up, make the decision again. Do the words make sense?

Christina: I feel like I can't let go intellectually, but it passes over in a way.

Duane: The converse is to decide not to search for a period of time, don't second guess yourself and when that period is up decide again.

Christina: The search itself is less of a problem than the emotional toll.

Duane: I guess what I'm saying is allow yourself to do what you need to do without questioning yourself. The best way is in time periods so that you can re-evaluate. (end of thought)

Christina: Thanks.

Sheila: Sheila, sister of missing Tim, age 36 then, missing since 3/22/2005, suspect foul play. Suspect ex-wife and family are involved in his disappearance. They had one daughter, now 6 yrs old. Ex-wife and family relocated to Brazil after ex was indicted on bankruptcy fraud charges and has a warrant for her arrest. Documentation provided to investigators led to her indictment and their subsequent relocation to Brazil. We have no contact with child or ex-wife.

I don’t know how to handle my fear. My fear was the greatest just after his disappearance. I feared for my own life and felt paralyzed. It has affected me and my familyin my own home. I lock all doors and windows. I don’t feel safe taking a walk alone. It’s gotten better, but I feel that I need protection with me at all times. Even a trip to the store, I feel vulnerable. This has also affected decisions on employment.

I’m currently unemployed by choice, but I plan to obtain employment within the next year. I’ve avoided jobs that I previously held because of public access to information. I believed Tim let his guard down and that is why he is not here today. I’m fearful that her family will retaliated against me because I haven’t stopped trying to get answers and I’ve exposed them. Even to this day, I’ve requested welfare checks with the state department to check on my niece in Brazil.

Duane: A risk.

Sheila: I need to let it go.

Duane: What do you consider to be safe other than your house?

Sheila: I'm safe with my husband. Maybe I'm more aware of my surroundings more than ever.

Duane: Can you expand your safety zone just a little at a time by having a cell phone, etc instead of your husband?

Sheila: Yes, I have been doing this. My husband told me I could wear a side arm if it would help. I even locked him out while he was grilling. I know it's a bit extreme. Then I get angry.

Duane: They still have control over you by having this effect on you. Part of the work will be taking your life back from them. They can't have both you and your brother.

Sheila: I agree, thank you.

Duane: That's going to be hard work, but the more you think about not letting them have you, the freer you might be. (end of thought)

Sheila: Thank you.

Kelly: Barbara, welcome. What is your question for Duane?

Barbara: Barbara, wife of Paul, age 32 at time of disappearance 2/22/06, unknown circumstances, but was suffering from health problems and had some depression. How do Iget over the extreme guilt I feel about his disappearance? I feel like I could have and should have done so much more to help him.

Duane: This disappearance is still very new. Sometimes feeling guilt protects us from what we consider worse possibilities. Also guilt helps us to find a sense of control. If we can see something we could have done it's not completely out of our control. What I'm suggesting is that guilt hurts but allows us to continue to function....overwhelming pain does not. I try to suggest to folks that of all the feelings they could feel right now, where does guilt fall from best to worst? Where does it fall for you?

Barbara: Well it's definitely after pain but it's probably right below it. It's the second emotion I go to when I'm hurting.

Duane: The point I'm making is that you are going to feel some emotion, is guilt the worst you could feel? Some people feel guilty about feeling guilty, which adds to the pain. You will figure out whether guilt is appropriate with time, but for now, is it tolerable?Your question was how to get over the guilt, and that comes from you over time of looking at what is truly your responsibility and what is not. Until then is guilt tolerable?

Barbara: Yes.

Duane: I would love to hear how you said that.

Barbara: The guilt brings lots of pain with it though. Tolerable pain I guess.

Duane: To have to feel, you’re human, while it's not what you want to hear, perhaps, tolerate your feelings of guilt until you can work it through, don't place the expectation on yourself that you shouldn't feel this way. (end of thought)

Barbara: Thanks. I know I just have to live with it.

Duane: But don't punish yourself for feeling. (end of thought)

Tammy: Tammy....missing 23 yr old son since August 1,2006. My son suffers from psychosis and stopped his meds 5 months ago. I have an idea where he is, but he has not contacted me. I'm worried because of his past suicide attempt and his inabilities to hold a job for a length of time. He has disability but that runs out at the end of this month and he has to reapply. I worry constantly and although I know I'm not alone in this situation. I do feel someone neglected by LE as they are not understanding. They treat his case as a run away and tell me to not worry and he is an adult.

He has a mental illness that mostly causes him paranoia. There are people in the town that he is probably in, but I still don't know for sure that he is still there. He lived at home when he went off for a bike ride and did not come back. He was doing better on meds and then just stopped.

He said he didn't need them. Part of his paranoia is focused towards me . He had no friends and I was his daily contact. I hope I don't sound too scattered with this thought. I feel like he is abandoning his family, yet I know it's his illness.

Kelly: LE=law enforcement FYI

Duane: You’re right to understand that his illness is in control. Without his meds he functions less, but is he still functional?

Tammy: He can cook and keep himself clean while living at home. From what I understand he is on the street right now. Like I said, his biggest issue is paranoia.

Duane: Do you have access to the doctor who prescribed his meds?

Tammy: He won't go to a shelter for help either. The place where I suspect that he is at has not seen him around for a week now. I do have access. My son and I have gone to those appts. together.

Duane: Have you talked to the doc about this situation? He has the authority to 'bring him in for observation' if he thinks your son is in danger.

Tammy: I don't want to scare him away, but I do want to hear from him. Is my case somewhat unique for you? My son is probably in a different state now which limits the dr. privelige.

Duane: I see. It might be worth talking to the doc, though, to see what he can do or recommend. He does still have some obligation to his might be helpful to see what is possible through him.

Tammy: There was a mental health warrant, but it ran out time wise and he has no fixed address now.

Duane: If someone could help YOU at this point, what would that help be?

Tammy: That sounds like good advice. I struggle with "bad parent" syndrome right now and almost feel that I'm grieving something that is not really gone, but in a way is gone.

Duane: Grief is a good term. Grief is adjusting to a loss even if the loss is temporary.

Tammy: I know I'm not responsible for his mind, but feel helpless.

Duane: What gets you through right now....what belief what thought?

Tammy: So then grief can take as long as it wants... I do work and am able to focus on that most days. I guess my belief is that he is God's hands ...I'm a Christian... and I have to have people rally around me that way.

Duane: Excellent. Keep putting the word on the street that he can come home whenever he wants. Is there something else you can think of to do?

Tammy: I always have my cell phone just in case I get a call. I'm sure all of us experience that. Thanks for the kind words. I think I've probably done all I can right now except try to get the dr. more involved and take of myself by eating and getting rest. End of comments.

Duane: One more thing...the doc is not only there for your son. (End of thought)

Tammy: Thank you... I know... I do have help that wait.

Kelly: We can go to Mary and then Duane will give closing comments and any other info he wishes to provide.

Duane: Hi again Mary, I hadn't gotten to finish my thought and we moved on. You had asked, if I remember, about the feeling of guilt, and I was discussing spending time with you daughter...

Mary: After reading what others had to say --helped me understand.

Duane: My thought behind that was, the more time you spend with, perhaps the less you will feel guilt. It's not what most mental health folk would say, but it may work. Do the words make sense?

Mary: I don't understand.

Duane: By allowing yourself to be 'present' with her, you don't focus so much on the guilt.

Mary: I see.

(Duane was referring to this previously made comment: Duane: "If she has a favorite thing to do like hike in the woods or gardening or going to the mall, could you 'spend time with her' in that activity...Just for you?")

Duane: I'm in a corner, and not sure how else to say this in typing. Does the thought make sense; you don't need to agree with it?

Mary: I agree.

Duane: Again, I wish I could hear how you said that. Thanks for coming back (end of thought)

Mary: Thank you.

Kelly: Duane, I feel the session was highly beneficial. Some questions were posed and answers given that helped me reflect as well. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this.

Duane: I have enjoyed the experience and hope this was in some way helpful to folks. (End of thought)

Kelly: Feel free to add any closing comments and other info.

Duane: OK...

Do not place expectations on yourselves about what you're feeling and doing, and certainly don't let others place expectations on you. You are coping in ways that no one else can judge. At the same time, seek out professional support when you need it. The key is to know when that is.....and that's where your loved ones come in. Listen to those who care and know you...not their expectations but their suggestions. (End of thought)

Kelly: It's our feelings and we have the right to them...correct?

Duane: Absolutely.

Kelly: Thank you once again. Many blessings to you and your work and I will see you in November.

Tammy: Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and chat with us. We're all in a struggle together and it's great to know that we're not really alone even though sometimes it feels that way. And you're right Duane...people should not judge us for coping and feeling the way we do. We do need our family's support. Family is important.

Duane: Thank you all (logging out)

Monday, September 25, 2006

9/25/06 Invitation to Omaha Area Families of the Missing

Project Jason Family Night

Wednesday, October 4th, 7pm
Omaha NE

Project Jason would like to invite all area families of the missing to the Project Jason Family Night.

Family Night is an informal gathering of family members of missing persons in the Omaha area. It is being held in conjunction with the 2 ½ day law enforcement training session, Investigating Missing Adults, conducted by Fox Valley Technical College.

Family Night will be hosted by two highly experienced missing persons’ advocates, Robert Cooke, from Georgetowne, TX, and Kelly Jolkowski from Omaha, NE.

The purpose of Family Night is for families of the missing (adults) to be able to meet and talk with other persons who have the experience of having a missing person in their lives. Open discussions about issues faced by families of the missing may include changed relationships with others, dealing with the daily fears and anxieties, frustrations with outside sources of help, and any other related topic participants would like to discuss.

For more information about Project Jason Family Night, please contact Kelly Jolkowski at Kelly.jolkowski(at sign) or 402-932-0095.

We hope to see you there.

Kelly Jolkowski,
Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder, Project Jason
Read our Voice for the Missing Blog

About Robert Cooke:

On January 10, 2002, Robert Cooke's oldest daughter Rachel disappeared while jogging in her parents' Georgetown, Texas, neighborhood. Robert has searched for Rachel for five years but has not found her.

While searching for their daughter, Robert found many problems with the system. Missing adults and teens are often ignored by law enforcement for several days or even longer. The early hours are crucial in a missing person case. Families and friends of missing loved ones need to know what to do and where they can go for help. In March of 2003 Robert and Janet Cooke created the Rachel Alert Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that helps provide missing person information and pointers to other agencies that can help.

Robert Cooke is also working to make improvements in the way law enforcement, the media, and the public perceive missing adults. Cooke provides a victim impact statement during missing person training classes for law enforcement created by the National Center for Missing Adults, Fox Valley Technical College, and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. Robert's ultimate goal is to have each case treated individually and then acted upon accordingly. Cooke also stresses continued communication between law enforcement and the families of the missing.

For more information about the search for Rachel Cooke please visit
For information about Rachel Alert Network, visit

About Kelly Jolkowski:

Kelly’s son, Jason, disappeared on June 13, 2001, at age 19, from the driveway of their home in Omaha, NE. Over 5 years later, the Jolkowski family lives daily with no leads or clues in Jason’s disappearance. Since then Kelly has become an active advocate for families of the missing.

She was instrumental in passing Jason’s Law, which mandated the creation of the Nebraska State Missing Person’s Clearinghouse. She also founded Project Jason, a nonprofit organization which assists families of the missing nationwide. Kelly has had over 80 hours of professional training from various sources including NCMEC, DOJ, and Fox Valley Technical College.

Kelly has spoken at several national events including the National Candlelight Vigil, and was the keynote speaker at the 10th Ride for Missing Children and the annual New York State Missing Person’s Day in 2005. She has developed several unique awareness programs to help locate the missing, including the 18 Wheel Angels, Adopt a Missing Person, and Come Home. She is currently spearheading Campaign for the Missing, a 50 state effort to pass specific legislation in regards to missing persons’ cases.

Kelly continues to work with families of the missing nationwide through Project Jason and also with TEAM Hope, a branch of NCMEC.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

9/24/06 Urgent Locate: My Brother, My Friend

Amanda's brother, Clinton, is missing in Louisianna. According to his mother, he was just diagnosed with a heart condition. He has been missing since 9/1/06.

Amanda writes:

"My name is Amanda and I live in South Dakota. My brother, Clinton, is still missing. My family and I are desperate to find him as we have done everything we can to locate him.

Clinton is the greatest brother in the world and is an even better uncle to my 16 month old daughter. He cherished my daughter and loved spending time with her while he still lived in South Dakota.

We grew up together and have so many funny memories of each other. He was always making me laugh when I was young and still to this day. He was always there for me to lend a shoulder to cry on, an ear to fill full of laughter and a voice that could soothe a crying baby. I feel like a lost soul without my brother.

It has been 3 weeks now, and as the days pass me by, I pray to the lord to bring him home safely. My heart is truly in agony as I yearn to speak with him every waking moment. My brother, has never gone this long without calling me to see how things are going in my life and to fill me in on his.

You know, I watch the news often and I see missing people here and there and I pray for the families...I never once thought it would happen to me. Life became a cruel reality when I watched the news broadcast of my brothers dissapearance.

I just cant imagine growing old with out my brother, I cant imagine my daughter not ever remembering her only uncle...but whats worse. My brother is only 21. He has his whole life ahead of him. Please help me in my search to find my brother. I love him so much."

Clinton Devon Nelson, 21, of the 200 block of Homer Road, last was seen Sept. 1 leaving on foot from 848 Ward Lane in Haughton, LA, sheriff's spokesman Ed Baswell said. Nelson was heading in an unknown direction.Nelson, who stands 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs about 160 pounds, last was seen wearing blue jeans, a black T-shirt, a black knit cap and red-and-white tennis shoes, Baswell said. He has blond hair, blue eyes and a fresh scar near his left collarbone and wears round-frame glasses.

If you live in this area, please look for Clinton.

For updates on this case, please see:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

9/20/06 Thursday Night at the Movies

This Thursday evening at 9pm EST, make some popcorn, dim the lights, and turn on the TV to Lifetime. Sit back and relax, knowing that it’s only a movie.

I met Sherrie Gladden-Davis online after I started my campaign to help the NCMA. (As seen in my post entitled “A Matter of Urgency.) Sherrie sent out some very well written letters in a heartfelt attempt to help. We conversed via email.

I had not heard of her sister’s case. There are just too many missing to know them all. I found out that Sherrie had written a book chronicling her sister Fran’s disappearance, and all that happened behind the scenes to uncover the web of lies that would lead to the truth. While Fran’s family now knows what happened, sadly, they have been unable to find her body.

Sherrie’s book “My Sister Is Missing, Bringing A Killer To Justice”, was made into a Lifetime Television Movie “Murder on Pleasant Drive”, which will re-air this Thursday, September 21st at 9pm EST on Lifetime Television.

I applaud Sherrie (and Fran’s daughter) for not giving up on her sister and for going the distance to find the answers, despite the passage of time, and numerous roadblocks. When it comes to missing persons, I feel that the general public may still be too complacent. It’s something that happens on TV, not in real life, and certainly not in my family.

Sherri and I beg to differ. While our stories are not the same, we have the common thread of living through this trauma. When we see our missing loved one on the TV screen, how we wish it were only a movie.

The timeline below was provided by Sherrie.


March 1990: Fran met John at work, Cromalloy Aeronautics, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.

May 11, 1990: Fran and John marry on the beach at Destin, Florida. They moved into their new home, next door to my mother’s home in Niceville, Florida

Feb. 1991: John files for divorce in Okaloosa Country, Florida. Later that month John withdrew the petition.

Late Feb. 1991: Fran called to tell me I needed to fly home, Mama was very ill. I stayed for 6 weeks, trying to help with Mama and getting to know my sister’s new husband. John was always VERY evasive when asked about his past. This raised red flags for the family, but John was accepted and given the respect due my sister’s husband.

Memorial Day weekend, 1991: Fran and John move to Princeton, New Jersey, where John had found a new job after Cromalloy downsized and left him jobless.

Labor Day weekend: John and Fran take a belated honeymoon trip to the Pocono Mountains. Fran falls and breaks her left hip.

Sept 28, 1991: Our family’s last contact with Fran; she and her daughter, Dedy, talked at about 10:30 AM.

Sept. 30 thru Oct. 2: After repeated calls to Fran with no answer, Dedy and I called John at work. John told us he thought Fran was with us. He had arrived at home on Tues. and found a note saying, “Be gone for a few days, don’t forget to feed the fish.” John stated that Fran had said she wanted to do a little traveling so he assumed that is what she had done; left to visit family. He had no idea where she was or how she had left the 3 story condo carrying a medium sized suitcase, briefcase, and purse. This she was supposed to have accomplished while still on a walker after her hip break.

Dedy and I told John to get to the police and file a missing persons report. He said he did not want to file the report because when Fran got home she would be mad. We had to tell him we were on our way up there to do it ourselves when he finally decided to file the report with the West Windsor Township Police Dept. on Oct 4, 1991, but not until after he had finished his work day.

Nov. 2, 1991: My husband and I made the first of many trips to John’s hometown in Ohio. I felt the name John Smith was a very convenient name. Our first stop was the city library where we researched the school annuals for the local high schools. We found the John was exactly who he said he was.

Jan. 9, 1991: My mother passed away, John attended the funeral. This was the first time John referred to Fran in the past tense. He brought a portable sewing machine to Dedy’s daughter stating, “Fran would have wanted Nici to have this.” He never again referred to Fran in present tense.

Feb. 22, 1992: Dedy and I made the trip to New Jersey, and at John’s invitation we stayed at the condo with him. We found that all of Fran’s things were there, even her deodorant, hair spray and makeup. I asked myself, what woman, knowing she was at least 6 weeks away from being able to support herself, or even traveling, would leave these things behind. Of course these things are easy to replace, but with limited funds, and no future income lined up, why spend the money for things you already have?

We also found the yellow suitcase that Fran was supposed to have lugged down 3 flights of stairs while on a walker. Because Dedy and I were invited guests to the home we were able to do something the police could not: search and photograph the residence. (The police had no probable cause to obtain a search warrant.)

Because Fran’s bosses were not notified by John, as Fran had asked him to do when she broke her hip, her bosses thought she had just moved on to another job, had left without notice, therefore, she was let go. While Dedy and I were in New Jersey we had the opportunity to talk with Fran’s prior employers, through that conversation we learned that John, who had always presented himself as a life-long bachelor, had been married before.

The next day, in our meeting with Detective Michael Dansbury, we confirmed that John had been married before to Janice Elaine Hartman, and the divorce, in Nov. 1974, was friendly. They simply split and went their own ways. After Detective Dansbury supplied the information on Janice’s family, I became obsessed with finding them. For the rest of the time we were in New Jersey John did not know we had discovered his first marriage and continued to talk about this being his first marriage and how was he to know what a husband would do and how a husband was supposed to act in this type of situation.

Mar. 5, 1991: I located and had first conversation with Janice’s brother, Garry Hartman. When I told Garry that I believed our sisters had been married to the same John David Smith III and that my sister was missing, his words to me were, “My God, Lady, you got a problem, my sister disappeared in Nov. 1974, never to be seen again.” I put Garry in touch with the West Windsor Township Police Department; who in turn contacted the Wayne County Ohio’s Sheriff’s Department. This reopened Janice’s case.

March 1993: Dedy and I, along with Mike Dansbury from New Jersey, met with Detective Sgt. Brian Potts of the Wayne County Ohio Sheriff’s Department for a sharing of information. Garry Hartman was also supposed to be a part of this 3 days of meetings, but he arrived accompanied by his attorney. That action shut down Garry being a part of the meetings. While in Ohio, all investigation documents were turned over to Dedy and me for our review and comment.

July 30, 1998: the FBI opened a cold case investigation file for both Fran and Janice; we were assigned Special Agent Robert Hilland as the lead investigator.

Sept. 1999: When 20/20’s John Miller came to do the first of 3 stories he informed us that John had remarried. This is the ONLY story that 20/20 has devoted three, hour long programs to, in order to follow the case to trial. We knew we could not chance contacting his new wife, Diane Bartallen, by phone or mail, as we were afraid for her safety.

Dedy wrote a short note to Diane which the producer overnighted to the ABC affiliate in San Diego, and that station delivered our note to Diane at her place of employment. On the evening of Oct.4, 1999 she called me, she stated she did not believe the FBI, not even when they laid all the facts out on a table for her to look at. She did, however, believe and trust Dedy and me. This opened up a wonderful line of communication between the three of us.

First week of Dec. 1999: Dedy and I were invited to appear on The Leeza Gibbon’s Show and flew to California. While there we met with Diane and she opened up a storage unit that she had rented prior to her marriage to John. In that storage unit were a suitcase and a briefcase, which she turned over to us. We went directly to an office supply store to copy everything in the suitcase and briefcase.

The interesting thing we found was an address for John in Hammond, Indiana. We knew he had worked for a temporary agency based in Indiana, but did not know he had actually lived in Indiana. Dedy and I kept a copy of each document for our files and then sent copies to each law enforcement agency involved with the cases.

Feb. 2000: I talked to Brian Potts, (Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Ohio) and told him the documents in the California storage unit told us something we did not know before: John had lived in Indiana. I requested we send letters to law enforcement and coroner’s offices in Indiana for any information on unidentified female human remains.

Brian was in the middle of a court case and explained that he would get the letters done as soon as he was released from having to appear in court each day. My husband and I found a web site for US counties and located addresses for all law enforcement and coroner’s office’s in Indiana. Within 24 hours of my conversation with Brian, we had made peel and stick labels for each agency and sent them overnight to Brian. By the time Brian had the labels he had been able to write letters, the deputies of Wayne County sat at a table that evening and stuffed the envelopes, and the letters were mailed the next day.

Three days after the letters went out Brian received a call from Inspector Jerry Burman of the Newton County Sheriff’s Department and stated, “Brian, I think I have your girl.” Inspector Burman explained that the remains had been found by a road repair crew in April 1980, where they had been dumped in a roadside ditch. The remains were in a crudely constructed plywood box. The northern Indiana media dubbed the case: The Lady In The Box.

On March 3, 2000: The Jane Doe remains in Newton County were exhumed and taken to Ohio, where they were turned over to an FBI forensic lab. They were identified as being those of Janice Hartman-Smith. Brian brought Janice’s remains back home to Ohio on her birthday.

Because the FBI asks a lot of questions but give few answers, we were not aware that on May 5, 1999, John’s brother Michael, had told the FBI about the box he had seen John build in the Fall of 1974, and that that box was stored in their grandfather’s old Marathon gas station. In the summer of 1979, the box had been opened by their grandfather, Michael, and a neighbor. When Michael realized that the box contained the remains of Janice he was instructed, by his grandfather, to call John. When Michael protested that they should call the police, his grandfather stated that this was family business and should never be spoken of again.

Michael made the call to John. John asked one question, “Did you open it?” When Michael said they had, John simply stated, “I’ll be right there.” John then drove from Hammond, Indiana to Seville Ohio that day, picked up the box and put it into his car. That was the last time Michael saw the box. This information was given in Brian’s letter to the authorities in Indiana. Michael’s description of the box matched what the road repair crew had found in 1980.

After the Wayne County, Ohio Grand Jury met and a warrant for murder was issued, on Oct. 3, 2000, John was arrested without incident, at his place of employment, LaForza Auto, in Escondido, California.

Oct 11, 2000: John is arraigned at Wayne County Courthouse, Wooster, Ohio.

Oct. 20, 2000: Bond hearing, bond is denied.

May 29, 2001: There was a hearing held to determine if the evidence of Fran’s disappearance could be entered into testimony during the trial. The argument was that with two missing wives, with very similar circumstances, this constituted what is known as a “Fingerprint MO. The action was denied.

We were very disappointed and heart sick by the decision, for there would be no voice for Fran and no form of justice for her in these proceedings. We now feel the good Lord was looking out for us with this ruling, because many cases, using evidence of a fingerprint crime, have had those convictions over turned to appellate courts.

July 2, 2001: Jury selection begins

July 3, 2001: The jury is selected and seated.

July 19, 2001: John is found guilty of second degree murder for Janice.

July 20, 2001: The sentencing hearing is held, but because one can not be given a greater sentence at the time of conviction than what they would have received at the time the crime was committed, the sentencing guidelines had to revert back to what was on the books in Ohio in 1974. John was sentenced to 15 years to life, the maximum punishment at that time for second degree murder.

John is eligible for his first parole hearing in April 2011. Our family, all the detectives from across the country, and the Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor, Jocelyn Stefoncen, who prosecuted the case, will attend any and all parole hearings in an effort to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Sept. 2001: Dedy and her brothers won a civil case against John for the wrongful death of their mother. A $1,000,000.00 judgment plus all investigative expenses and attorney fees was awarded to them. (Of course we do not ever expect to receive so much as a penny from this judgment, we were aware of that fact going into the suit, what we all needed to hear was a judge say, “Yes, John David Smith III, you are 100% responsible for the death of Betty Fran Gladden-Smith.”)

Fran remains listed as Missing But Presumed Dead. Our family continues to work her case. There is seldom a day that goes by when something is not looked into concerning her case. Brian Potts and Mike Dansbury have retired, but remain dedicated to Fran’s case. Special Agent Robert Hilland is confident that Fran’s case is solvable and that someday we will have our answers and be able to take Fran home to Florida for a proper burial. At present, I am working with the DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office, and we have submitted specimens for the DNA to be run and compared to see if an unidentified female they have might be Fran."

Betty Fran Gladden-Smith
Missing since: Sept. 1991
Case File: #91-013139
If you know anything about Fran’s disappearance, please contact the West Windsor Township Police Department, Lt. Dave Mansue, at 609-799-1171

Thursday, September 14, 2006

9/14/06 It's State Missing Person's Day in Idaho

Today, September 14, 2006 has been claimed as State Missing Person's Day in Idaho.

I would not have known this had I not received an email alerting me to this from one of our family members, the mother of missing Ahren Barnard, Vicki.

Information about Ahren:

The proclaimation reads as follows:



Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

WHEREAS, according to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation' s National Crime Information Center there were
876,213 missing person entries (juveniles and adults) in the year
2001, with an average of 2,001 children disappearing daily
including children from the state of Idaho; and

WHEREAS, as of March 31, 2003, there were 97,297 active
missing person cases in the United States and of those missing
approximately 54,194 were juveniles and 43,113 were reports of
individuals eighteen and older and these statistics include citizens
of the state of Idaho; and

WHEREAS, in response to these alarming trends, nonprofit
organizations such as Project Jason, Center for Hope and the
Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation were
founded for the purpose of educating the public in an effort to

prevent future abductions and disappearances and to provide
assistance to families of the missing; and

WHEREAS, all missing persons deserve to be searched for,
regardless of their age; and

WHEREAS, citizens, media and law enforcement must be
made aware of the plight of missing persons regardless of their
age; and

WHEREAS, our awareness, support, efforts and search for
missing persons must continue; and

WHEREAS, every missing person is someone' s son or
daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, husband or wife;

WHEREAS, the state of Idaho is committed to the safety and
well-being of all its citizens, both children and adults.

of the Second Regular Session of the Fifty-eighth Idaho
Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate
concurring therein, that we hereby proclaim September 14 as
Missing Persons Day, and the song "The Room We Never Go
In" shall be commemorated as the song for Missing Persons Day
and do hereby urge all citizens to take due note of the

HCR 45 was introduced, read the first time by title, and referred to the Judiciary, Rules, and Administration Committee for printing.

I was pleasantly surprised that Project Jason was mentioned in the proclamation, especially considering that we've never communicated with the family who worked hard to get this into place.

From (Thank you, KPVI, for covering this important day.)

"There are over 200 missing people in Idaho - those are children and adults who have never come home. Today, Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman signed a proclamation to show the city's support for Missing Persons Day. The state legislature approved the designation of every September 14th as a day to draw attention to those loved ones who are not forgotten.
Missing Person Day was an idea of the family of Amber Hoopes, who was abducted from her home five years ago next week.

Audra Burgener, Amber's aunt/organizer: "Amber was abducted September 14th. There are only two other states that recognize missing people - New York and Nebraska. There are millions of people missing every day, and I want our community to come together and learn how to protect themselves and their children."

Information about Amber:

We congratulate and thank Audra for playing a huge part in gaining recognition for the missing in her home state. We also hope and pray that Amber, Ahren, and the other missing persons in Idaho will be found, safe, and soon.

Project Jason did a state proclaimation in June of 2004. You can read the text here, mid page:

Please note that I have been informed that the Idaho Stateman newspaper has refused to cover this story. They won't do it for Amber, nor Ahren, nor any other missing person in Idaho. One must ask why. Here's their email address if you'd like to inquire:

Update, 9/17/06:

The Statesman's reply to the above has been a form response stating that our source misrepresented the facts. We believe our source to be an honest one. The fact of the matter is that the Statesman did not run any story on Idaho State Missing Persons' Day. We noted that there was more than one story that day about elks and a story about cats.

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