The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is not only dedicated to helping families and law enforcement when it comes to cases involving missing children, but also cases involving young adults- ages 18, 19 and 20. The PROTECT Act of 2003 contains a provision, known as Suzanne’s Law, that recognizes the U.S. Congress’ concern for the safety of missing young adults. With the passing of this provision, and at the request law enforcement, NCMEC resources can also be utilized in cases involving missing 18, 19 and 20-year-old individuals.
Suzanne’s Law was put into place in part by the tireless efforts of Mary and Doug Lyall whose 19-year-old daughter Suzanne Lyall disappeared as she was heading back to her dorm room at the State University of New York in Albany. Suzanne, “Suzy,” Lyall has been missing since March 2, 1998.
When Suzy disappeared, anyone over the age of 18 was considered an adult and therefore was not listed as missing with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The Lyalls felt their 19-year-old daughter should be considered a missing child and fought hard for what became known as “Suzanne’s Law.”
“When Suzy first went missing, we had nowhere to turn,” said Mary Lyall, explaining why she fought for Suzanne’s Law, which has helped many searching families. “We were ordinary everyday people and didn’t realize we could have such an impact.”
As of March 2, 2021, NCMEC had 330 active cases involving missing young adults.
Mary Lyall will never stop looking for her daughter until she finds the answers she desperately needs. Mary is also a member of NCMEC’s Team HOPE, an army of volunteers who have had a missing or exploited child and work with other families going through similarly tough times.