She was only 10 years old, and she hit it out of the park.
Maddison Raines knew exactly what to do last November when she and her friend were approached by a man in a white van while walking to a park in Pinal County, Arizona.
The man told Maddison, that her brother had been in a bad accident, and her family had sent him to pick her up. But her mom had recently given her a special code word to use if anyone tried to give her a ride. When the man couldn’t tell her the code, he sped off and saved herself from being abducted.
Meet NCMEC’s 2019 Law Enforcement Honorees:
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As the campers arrived at the Girl Scout camp in Oklahoma on June 12, 1977, the camp was buzzing with excitement. For some, like 8-year-old Lori Farmer, it would be the first ever summer camp experience. It was an opportunity to make new friends, sleep in tents and tell ghost stories. That night, the campers climbed into their tents in anticipation of the first full day of camp that would begin the next morning.
But when the campers awoke, excitement quickly turned to horror.
On the morning of June 13, 1977, a camp counselor who was on her way to the showers came across a horrific scene. Just a few yards from where they slept in tents, the bodies of three campers were discovered laying on a trail that led to the nearby showers. The campers were identified as Lori Farmer (8), Michelle Guse (9) and Denise Milner (10). They had been beaten, raped and murdered during the night.
News of the murders quickly spread and families raced back to the camp, hoping and praying that their child was safe. As the camp began to clear out, law enforcement conducted what would become the largest manhunt in Oklahoma history.
Now 42 years later, the case remains unsolved and continues to haunt the friends and families of these little girls, but it has also inspired them to help other families.
Sheryl Stokes was a childhood friend of Lori Farmer and because of Lori’s tragic death, Sheryl joined the Family Advocacy Division here at NCMEC to help other families through tragedies.
“There were no resources available for these families, no one for them to turn to as they navigated their way through this horrific ordeal,” explains Stokes. “I wanted to be a part of the Family Advocacy team at NCMEC to ensure that families have options and someone to turn to when faced with tragedies.”
Lori Farmer’s mother, Sheri Farmer, shares the same sentiment surrounding the lack of resources available to families dealing with a tragedy at that time. In addition, she writes of the guilt she feels and her thoughts as another year passes without her daughter.
Although Lori suffered a tragic death, her mother and childhood friend, Sheryl, were determined to make sure that Lori did not die in vain. Knowing what she went through and the helplessness that she felt, Sheri and her husband established the Oklahoma chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, which they led for 15 years. In her role, here at NCMEC, Sheryl continues to be a shoulder for families to lean on and a person they can turn to for resources and guidance. Sheri and Sheryl continue to tell Lori’s story and have turned their heartache into action.
To learn more about the victim and family support resources available through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children please visit our website: http://www.missingkids.org/ourwork/support
6/6/19 - Law enforcement in New Hampshire announced today that after nearly 40 years, three murder victims found in steel barrels near Bear Brook State Park have been identified. The fourth victim, a little girl 2-4 years old, remains unidentified.
For more information about the case, check out this video:
If you have any information, please call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
Most AMBER Alerts are Family Abductions
That contrasts sharply with a common misconception that family abductions – far more prevalent than stranger abductions – aren’t harmful because the child is with a parent or relative. In fact, family abductions can be extremely violent – in some cases deadly – as an angry family member takes revenge on another through their children.
“We see as much violence in these cases as we do in stranger abductions,” says Bob Lowery, who runs NCMEC’s Missing Children Division. “Family abductions are very concerning. We cannot ever minimize the dangers children face under these circumstances.”
A snapshot of last year’s 161 AMBER Alerts vividly illustrates Lowery’s point:
· A father in Ohio abducted his three children, ages 4, 2 and 6 months, and threatened to kill them.
· An Oklahoma mother restrained two of her children, repeatedly stabbed a third, set her house on fire and then fled with her 8-year-old son.
· A 7-month-old girl in Virginia was taken by her father, who was a registered sex offender and believed to be armed.
· A 2-year-old boy in Texas was forcibly abducted by his non-custodial father, hitting the child’s grandmother with his car when he fled with his girlfriend and the child.
· A father in New Jersey abducted his 10-month-old child after assaulting the child’s mother.
The children in these abductions were all recovered safely, sometimes released by the abductors themselves when they realized an AMBER Alert had been issued and an entire community was looking for them.
Once law enforcement issues an alert, NCMEC broadcasts the information to a wider, geographically targeted audience through a network of internet content providers, the trucking industry, social networking websites, hotels, digital billboards and the wireless industry.
Out of the 161 alerts last year, 60% were for family abductions, 35% for non-family abductions (rarely a stranger), 4% for a category of lost, injured or otherwise missing and 1% for endangered runaways. At the end of the year, 11 children remained missing and seven children were recovered deceased.
AMBER Alerts have been an important tool for law enforcement ever since Rae-Leigh Bradbury became the first child rescued using one in 1998. Rae-Leigh was eight weeks old when she was abducted by her babysitter. After an AMBER Alert was issued in Arlington, Texas, it only took 90 minutes for someone to spot the babysitter’s turquoise truck.
Since that fateful day, more than 957 children have been rescued as a direct result of an AMBER Alert. Of the 161 AMBER Alerts issued last year, it’s known that 34 children involved in 28 cases were recovered specifically through the alert.
Thousands more children have been safely recovered when they’ve been featured in an alert, but it’s not always possible to determine if a tip that led to a recovery was called in by someone who had seen the alert or if the child was found through other investigative measures, according to Carly Tapp, who oversees NCMEC’s role in the AMBER Alert program, which is administered by the Justice Department.
“AMBER Alerts are just one of many tools law enforcement can use to find a missing child quickly,” says Tapp. “We try to highlight cases where we can confidently attribute the safe rescue of a child to an AMBER Alert, and we take care not to inflate that number.”
As was the case with Rae-Leigh, most children featured in AMBER Alerts last year were girls under age 1, and most were taken by someone they knew, such as a family member, babysitter or acquaintance. The gender breakdown overall has been roughly equal over the years.
In cases where it was known where a child was reported missing last year, most were at home, some at a store. Other kids were taken from schools, snatched off a street or from Social Services placements.