Beyond Childhood: The Search for Critically Missing Young Adults
Here at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’ve made it our mission over the last 39 years to bring home missing children. The case types may differ and the ages may change, but at the end of the day, our goal remains the same — to bring a child a home, to never stop searching, and to always keep hope alive.
But what if your child isn’t technically classified as a child? What if they go missing when they’re no longer under the age of 18?
What some people may not know is that NCMEC also helps law enforcement and families with cases of critically missing young adults aged 18 to 20.
A critically missing young adult is one who is at an elevated risk of danger if not located as soon as possible due to the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. NCMEC began taking these cases after the passing of a provision included in the PROTECT Act of 2003. The provision, known as Suzanne’s Law, recognizes the U.S. Congress’ concern for the safety of missing young adults.
The law also requires law enforcement to enter the report of missing young adults, aged 18 to 20, into the NCIC Missing Person File without delay. Suzanne’s Law is named after Suzanne “Suzy” Lyall who disappeared on March 2, 1998, at just 19 years old.
As of May 1, 2023, NCMEC had more than 200 active cases of critically missing young adults.
As we approach the observance of National Missing Children’s Day on Thursday, May 25, here are just a few cases of critically missing young adults who need your help:
Tricia at 19 and Tricia age-progressed to 49.
Nineteen-year-old Tricia Reitler, now 49, disappeared more than 30 years ago on March 29, 1993, from Marion, Indiana. At the time, Tricia was a freshman psychology student at Indiana Wesleyan University. On the evening of March 29, Tricia decided to take a break from writing a term paper and walk to a supermarket approximately half a mile from the university’s campus. After making a purchase, Tricia left the store with the intent to return to her dorm; however, she never made it there and has not been seen or heard from since.
The age progression image above shows what Tricia may look like today.
Have you seen Tricia, or do you have information about her disappearance?
David at 18 and David age-progressed to 27.
David Ortiz was only 18 years old when he disappeared from Silver City, New Mexico on Halloween night, October 31, 2010. David, who would be 31 today, was last seen leaving his grandparents' home to go trick-or-treating. He was supposed to go to a friend’s house, but he never arrived. David has never been seen or heard from again.
The age progression image above shows what David may look like today.
Have you seen David, or do you have information about his disappearance?
Natanalie at 19 and Natanalie age-progressed to 27.
Nineteen-year-old Natanalie “Naty” Perez was last seen nearly 11 years ago at Burke’s Motel in Miami, Florida on June 1, 2012. Naty, who would be 30 years old today, moved to Miami after graduating from high school to chase her dreams of becoming a singer. However, shortly after arriving in Miami, her family says she became ensnared in a violent sex-trafficking ring. After reaching out to her family and briefly visiting home for help, Naty once again returned to Miami and disappeared a short time later. Her family has not seen or heard from her since. Read more about Naty’s disappearance in this 2020 blog.
The age progression image above shows what Natanalie may look like today.
Have you seen Natanalie, or do you have information about her disappearance?
Bryce at 19 and Bryce age-progressed to 28.
19-year-old Bryce Laspisa, now 29, was last seen nearly 10 years ago on August 30, 2013, in Castaic, California. Bryce had been attending Sierra College in northern California and was driving home to visit his family when he vanished. He called his mother at 2 a.m. and told her he was too tired to drive and planned to stop his car and sleep. However, a few hours later, Bryce’s car was found abandoned in a ravine near Castaic Lake. The car was on its side and the rear window had been smashed. Despite finding all of his belongings, there was no sign of Bryce. He has never been seen or heard from again.
The age progression image above shows what Bryce may look like today.
Have you seen Bryce, or do you have information about his disappearance?
For more information on missing young adults, visit our website here: https://www.missingkids.org/theissues/othertypes
To view and share missing posters, search active cases of missing children here: https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/search