Most of us are aware of our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But for most American’s there is a lesser-known right . . . the right to go missing.
As of April 30, 2018, there were 86,927 active missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) at the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Of that number 14,411 are listed as endangered by authorities.
While most cases will resolve quickly, others date back decades.
“If you, as an adult, want to take off and need some time alone, you’re entitled to do that,” according to St. Cloud Police Assistant Chief Jeff Oxton. “That’s the right to go missing and can generate legitimate and sometimes illegitimate concerns from others.”
At the age of 18, going missing is not considered an offense. Unless the adult has been found to have significant issues with mental health, or if they are legally under the care of another person, it is not a crime to go missing and most resolve without incident.
“Most missing persons, we find them OK,” said Oxton. “We find there’s been a misunderstanding, or there was another reason they weren’t where they were supposed to be.”
However, that doesn’t always mean that all missing person cases are resolved with expediency.
Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., are searching for missing Marine veteran Jesse Conger who vanished without a trace on August 14, 2019. Loved ones fear he may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. Conger had served for 10 years and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during his military service.
Authorities say Conger was last seen at his apartment in Scottsdale by his girlfriend Natasha Harwell and may be driving a 2015 Toyota Camry with Nevada license plate number 696G03.
“I asked him to get help. He kept telling me, ‘No.’ but I feel like I should have insisted a little bit more,” Harwell said.
When Conger did not come home and never answered her calls or texts, she reported him missing. She noticed his gun was missing but all other personal belongings left at his home, including his wallet with identification, debit card, credit card, and all necessities. His service dog was also left behind.
“I feel like all the times before when he has done this, it was more like—you could know something was about to happen. He would talk to me about it, I could talk to him. This time he just picked up and left,” said Harwell.
The search has gone viral after a tweet from Pulte Group CEO Bill Pulte offered a $30,000 reward to help find Conger.
“I don’t know if I would be alive without my twin brother,” Patricia Conger said. “He’s always been with me. I want you to come home Jesse, please come home and I love you.”
Scottsdale Police Department is treating Jesse Conger’s case as an “endangered missing person” and added him to the NCIC system at the FBI.
What Happens When a Missing Person is Entered Into NCIC?
Once someone is entered into the NCIC database they are flagged as missing making their information available nationwide. For example, if they disappear from California and get pulled over or questioned by authorities in Arizona, police are quickly able to run their information through NCIC and make a determination if the individual is possibly a danger to themselves or others. This enables authorities to take them to the hospital.
There are five categories in NCIC that a missing person can be classified in.
When a person is added to NCIC, it makes their descriptive and automobile information available to all law enforcement agencies, medical examiners and Coroners in the country.
It is a common misconception that when an adult goes missing, a reporting party must wait 24 hours before making a report to police.
“There’s just not (a waiting period,)” Oxton said told the Sy. Cloud Times. “And I think that comes back to, you know, people see it on TV, or whatever, that they have to be missing for 24 hours. But that’s just not true.
In fact, there is no national mandate that requires one to wait before going to the police to report an adult missing.
However, when a child goes missing there is a national mandate requiring law enforcement to accept an immediate missing report, report it to the FBI and enter the person’s descriptive data into NCIC. This is due to the age and vulnerability. Though this national mandate does not apply to missing adults, there still exists no required waiting period to report them.
When there is a reporting delay for some reason, or something bad has happened, the first two hours are critical.
After receiving a missing person report, police will attempt to find the person in question, which may include contacting the person who made the report, along with friends and family, hospitals and jails.
If police discover the person went missing on their own accord, legally police cannot tell the reporting party where they are if the missing person does not wish friends and family to know. Police can let the reporting party know they are alive and well and do not wish contact.
Authorities are expected to make informed judgment calls about whether the missing person is at risk of death or injury. If the person is considered “endangered” it adds more urgency to the case, meaning law enforcement has received enough evidence that the person is at risk for personal injury or death due to one of the following:
the person is involuntarily missing or result of an abduction;
the person is missing under dangerous circumstances;
there is evidence the person is in need of medical attention or needed medication such as insulin, that would severely affect the person’s health;
the person does not have a history of disappearing;
the person is mentally impaired or has diminished mental capacity, such as someone with Alzheimer’s or Down Syndrome;
the person has been the subject of acts of violence or threats;
there is evidence the person may be lost in the wilderness or after a catastrophic natural event;
any other factor that law enforcement believes the person may be at risk of physical injury or death.
Once there is a report on a missing person, it then becomes crucial that law enforcement obtain dental records, fingerprints and have the family submit a DNA sample into the Family DNA database.
Records and samples are regularly cross-referenced with Unidentified Persons, alive and deceased for matches.
Jesse Conger is listed as “endangered” in NCIC due to his mental state when he went missing. But what happens when the trail goes cold?
Until a missing person is found, their entry in NCIC remains active. Once entered police do not stop investigating the case and following up on every lead that is provided by the public.
However, some cases, like Conger’s do not resolve right away and it becomes necessary and effective for police to ask for the public’s help to generate new leads.
Family and friends commonly try to engage the public and community to help find the missing person, including setting up Facebook Pages to generate leads and offer rewards for information.
Behind every missing person appeal, and every headline is an individual story and a family experiencing heartbreak.
“For law enforcement, at times searching for a missing person is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” says Thomas Lauth, a missing person expert, and CEO of Lauth Investigations International. “Often an effective investigation is a cooperative effort between law enforcement, the public, and the media.
Lauth has worked on missing person cases for over 25 years, working with local, state and federal law enforcement. “Generating that one lead that law enforcement needs to progress with the investigation becomes of utmost importance.”
Inevitably some cases go cold but that doesn’t mean the case is closed or impossible to solve.
“While missing persons have the right to go missing, the police still pour all of their resources into investigating the disappearance which should be reassuring to families who are experiencing the trauma of having a loved one missing,” says Lauth.
Suzanne “Suzi” Streeter, Stacy McCall and Sherrill Levitt
Suzanne Streeter, 19, along with her mother Sherrill Levitt, 47, and best friend Stacy McCall, 18, all vanished June 7, 1992 from Springfield, Mo.
The girls had planned on staying at a hotel in Branson, Mo., then visit the White-Water amusement park in the morning. Stacy called her mother to tell her they instead decided to stay at a friend’s home in Battlefield, Mo.
After the police were called due to a noise complaint, the two girls head over to Sherrill’s house to spend the rest of the night.
Sherill had been home that evening and the girls arrived at approximately 2:15 a.m.
The following morning their friends tried to reach Stacy and Suzanne at the mother’s residence, phoning and stopping by but they could not be located. All the women’s personal belongings were found inside the home but the three were never found. The only physical evidence left at the scene was a broken porch light.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Suzanne Streeter, Stacy McCall or Sherrill Levitt, please call the Springfield Police Department at 417-864-1810.
Charlene Voight, 36, had just graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Landscape Architecture and excited to start in her new career path. She decided to pursue her career and relationship and travel from Calif., to Littleton, Colo., and move in with her boyfriend.
After not hearing from Charlene for several days, her parents reported her missing on July 8, 2016. Her car was found abandoned in a gravel lot about a block from the apartment complex she had been living with her boyfriend.
A few weeks after Charlene vanished her boyfriend was arrested on unrelated charges of sexual assault involving another woman.
Authorities searched a Commerce City landfill in March following her disappearance, but the search ended after four months. Police never made public what prompted them to conduct a search. Charlene’s was not recovered; however, they did locate some of her clothes, now undergoing DNA testing to see if they link to a suspect in her disappearance.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Charlene Voight, please call Littleton Police Department at 303-794-1551.
Sarah Galloway, 38, has Down’s Syndrome. On the morning of March 21, 2019, she vanished from the front porch of her rural home in Picture Rocks, near Tucson, Ariz. Sarah functions at the level of an 8-year old child and very trusting of people. Her mother Sherry Galloway says, “Nobody is a stranger to Sarah.”
Volunteers immediately canvassed the area surrounding the residence, along with canines and aerial searches but the ground searches were later called off because they produced no leads. Pima County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Sarah Galloway, please call Pima County Sheriff’s Office at 520-88-CRIME (27463).
Corinna Slusser, 19, was last seen in the early morning hours of September 20, 2017, at the Haven Motel in Queens, New York.
Two months earlier in July, Corinna contacted her mother and told her that she had met a man who had offered her a place to stay in New York City. She immediately left with only her cell phone, identification, and the clothes on her back. Daily, Corrina was on Facebook and Instagram, but all social media activity has since stopped. Her family fears Corinna has been kidnapped into sex trafficking.
NYPD says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Corinna Slusser, please call NYPD at 800-577-TIPS (8477).
Keith Bailey, 48, vanished August 6, 2019. He went to a three-mile walk before work that Tuesday morning, but his wife Nikki Bailey later found out he never arrived at work. His cell phone was last pinged on Highway 87 heading northeast to Payson, Ariz. He was driving a newly purchased dark-gray 2018 Toyota Tacoma truck with temporary license plates.
His credit card revealed he had filled up on fuel in Payson but there has been no further activity on their bank account.
Keith is the principal materials engineer for ARTL Laboratories in Phoenix. “He wasn’t sleeping,” said his wife Nikki. “He was having trouble going to work. And he loved that job.”
If you have information about the disappearance of Keith Bailey, please call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151.
Elaine Park, 20, vanished during the early morning of January 28, 2017, in Calabasas, Calif. Elaine had driven to her on again – off again boyfriend’s home to stay the night but he told authorities that Elaine had a panic attack around 4 a.m. the following morning. He said he tried to get her to stay at his home, but she left in her vehicle.
Three days later Elaine’s 2015 Honda Accord was found abandoned on the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway unlocked with the keys still in the ignition. Authorities found her cell phone and other personal belonging s inside the car.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Elaine Park, please call the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911.
Stacy Smart, 51, has been missing from the small Trinity County town of Lewiston, Calif. According to the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, she vanished October 12, 2016, from the home she shared with her boyfriend.
Stacey’s daughter Nicole Santos said her mother usually celebrated Halloween with her but when she didn’t show up at her home that night, Santos went looking for her the following day and found out her mother’s friends had not seen her for weeks. Trinity County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Stacey Smart, please call the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office at 530-623-3740.
Logan Schiendelman, 19, vanished May 19, 2016, from Tumwater, Wash. Raised by his grandmother, she pinged his cell phone that revealed Logan was in the area of his mother in Olympia. Furth activity on his phone indicated he had driven south on Interstate 5, then back north, then south again, then north, then south again.
His black, 1996 Chrysler Sebring was later found abandoned on Interstate 5 between Tumwater and Maytown. Several drivers called 911 describing a man jumping out of his vehicle and running into the woods.
Foul play has not been ruled out in this case. There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Logan Schiendelman, please call the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at 360-786-5599.
Jasmine Moody, 18, a nursing student at Texas Women’s University, went missing on December 4, 2014, from Detroit, Mich.
Jasmine had met a woman through social media and traveled from her home in Texas to Detroit to visit the woman and her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. On the evening of December 4, Jasmine and the woman for into an argument about Jasmine’s social media posts and has never been seen again.
The woman told authorities that Jasmine had left her home and ran out into the cold leaving her cell phone, purse and identification at the home. Foul play is suspected in this case.
There is a $2,500.00 reward for information that leads to the whereabouts of Jasmine.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Jasmine Moody, please call the Detroit Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
Kristen Modafferi, 18, vanished on June 23, 1997 in San Francisco, Calif.
Kristen was an industrial design major at North Carolina University and traveled to San Francisco to attend a summer photography course at the University of California at Berkeley.
She was employed part-time at Spinelli’s coffee shop at the Crocker Galleria in the financial district of San Francisco. She also worked at Café Musee inside the Museum of Modern Art on the weekends.
On June 23, Kristen asked a coworker at Spinelli’s for directions to Baker Beach which is located next to Land’s End Beach west of the city. Her shift ended at 3:00 p.m. that day, but she was seen on the second level of the Galleria with an unidentified blonde woman. That woman has never been identified.
Despite thousands of leads and appearances on national television shows nothing has led to information that would lead to Kristen. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Kristen Modafferi, please call Oakland Police Department at 510-238-6341.
In addition, Missing in Arizona has been posting alerts on their Facebook site that has been shared over a hundred times throughout Ariz., and beyond, continuing to grow. Missing in Arizona was created by Det. Stuart Somershoe, a missing person detective at Phoenix Police Department.
(Pima County Sheriff’s Department searching the Galloway property in Picture Rocks, Ariz. Photo courtesy of the Daily Star.)
Early on, multiple agencies and a hundred volunteers set up a command post near the property to search for Sarah. Donnie Wadley, a member of the community coordinated the volunteer search. “We’re a big community,” he said. “We all care. We’re all out here . . . we can go as long as we need to.”
Although Pima County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the disappearance, they have not had any clues to date and have limited resources to continue an in-depth investigation.
Despite the good efforts of law enforcement and the community, Sarah’s mother now feels like she is alone in the search for her missing daughter. “Sarah’s story is not in the news headlines anymore,” said Sherry Galloway. “Sometimes the feelings are overwhelming. Am I ever going to see my daughter alive again? Was she abducted into a sex trafficking ring . . . or worse?” Sherry Galloway now shares her missing daughter’s on Facebook trying to enlist the help of anyone that will listen.
The story caught the attention of Thomas Lauth, Chief Executive Officer of Lauth Investigations headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. “We called Sarah’s mother and offered our services pro bono,” said Lauth. “This young lady needs help and media attention had dwindled.”
Lauth Investigations has set up a Go Fund Me site to help cover the expenses related to beginning a new private investigation to search for Sarah. “We need to keep Sarah in the public eye,” said Lauth. “Every time we show Sarah’s photograph and story with the media and public, we increase the chances she will be found.”
All proceeds from the Finding Sarah Galloway on Go Fund Me will be used to pay for the search for Sarah Galloway.
Sarah is a happy go lucky and friendly woman whose disappearance has left a gaping hole in many people’s lives. “She’s super friendly. No one is a stranger to her. But she needs supervision to care for herself. She cannot even operate a cell phone and has no money,” says her mother, Sherry Galloway.
Sarah Galloway Description HEIGHT: 4’11” WEIGHT: 100lbs HAIR: Brown EYES: Brown
Sarah was last seen wearing a dark gray button up knit sweater, red short sleeved T-shirt with unknown black lettering on front, black polyester pants and Skechers sneakers with rainbow color. She also wears light brown plastic framed sunglasses.
(Sarah Galloway, 38, has Down Syndrome and went missing from Tucson, Ariz., on March 21, 2019.)
On March 21, 2019, Sherry Galloway, 66, got out of the shower and, while sitting on her bed, “realized I didn’t hear Sarah,” she said. She ran to the door where Sarah had been sitting on the porch and looked down the road that leads away from the residence Galloway shares with her daughter in the community of Picture Rocks, outside of Tucson, Ariz. “My first thought was that she had just walked further down the road than she was allowed,” says Galloway. “I got in the car and drove down the road. No Sarah. I was freaking out. Within about 10 minutes, we’d called 911.”
Sarah, 38, has Down Syndrome, and is a “happy go lucky” young woman who loves to talk about daily events that occurred at her daytime program for adults with disabilities and has pretend conversations with her friends.
Sarah functions at the level of an 8-year-old child. At age 8, Sarah joined the Galloway family, along with five other siblings, and was officially adopted at age 12.
(Police conducted foot, canine and aerial searches of the desert near the home of Sherry Galloway in the Picture Rocks community approximately 30 minutes from Tucson, Ariz.)
The day Sarah vanished, police and volunteers canvassed the area on foot, by search vehicle, and used K-9 but could not find a trace of Sarah. Police even partnered with the Department of Homeland Security conducting searches by helicopter.
“The police did do their dog search and they say they lost the scent right at the end of the driveway,” said Galloway. “I do believe she was picked up that morning. I don’t know by who, and I can’t figure out why.”
“She’s a vulnerable adult and we’re doing everything we can to locate her,” said spokesman Deputy Daniel Jelineo of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re looking to the public to supply any tips they have.”
According to Galloway, Sarah had been agitated prior to her disappearance. “It was really weird,” she said. “She was fantasizing about someone – an acquaintance – being her husband, telling me that this guy was going to do bad things to me. We didn’t know where that was coming from or what to think,” Galloway added.
“She’s super friendly,” Galloway told People Magazine. “No one is a stranger to her. But she needs supervision to care for herself. She cannot operate a cell phone.”
(Sarah has been missing since March 2019 from Tucson, Ariz., and described as outgoing with a sunny personality.)
According to Galloway, Sarah attends a day program for people with disabilities which she enjoys. She loves to help around the house and loves to color princesses in coloring books like Frozen. She also loves to role play movie and TV characters with her mother.
“I miss having her come in and kiss me in the morning, said Galloway who has spent months waiting in for her daughter. “I miss having her kiss me at night before she went to bed.”
Galloway has spent months replaying the delusions her daughter was experiencing right before she disappeared.
“But she changed. She changed dramatically. She wouldn’t listen to anything I’d say; she wouldn’t get up and go anywhere with me,” Galloway told KGUN 9 TV. “She was running outside doing strange things, throwing rocks at my windows, saying she was going to break my trailer, going up to the car that her and her boyfriend, husband, were going to steal and when you ask her who her husband is, she would name him and I don’t think I’m allowed to name him on camera so, I just keep my thoughts to myself because he had an alibi.”
In the meantime, Pima County Sheriff’s Department says they continue to investigate any and all leads related to Sarah’s disappearance.
Thomas Lauth is a private investigator from Lauth Investigations International based in Indianapolis, Ind. Lauth and has worked missing adult cases for over 25 years and very familiar with the setbacks police may be experiencing with Sarah’s case. “This case is particularly concerning because we are dealing with an individual who has diminished mental capacity, who is also very friendly,” says Lauth. “We also face challenges because the media’s interest has been short-lived unlike other high-profile disappearances of other women Sarah’s age.”
Lauth is concerned the media has not covered the case providing new updates like other nationally known cases of young women in the country. “We need information from the public and that only happens when there is consistent coverage of a case in the public eye,” said Lauth. “Sadly, it is far too common that women with disabilities get less attention than the young, beautiful college student.”
Galloway says she knows her daughter is out there somewhere, and she won’t give up until she is found. “I will find peace, yes, when that kid is back in my arms safe,” says Galloway. “I don’t care if it’s here on earth or if it’s in heaven. I will find peace as long as she’s with me.”
Stats & Facts
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there were 87,608 active missing person cases as of May 31, 2018. That number tends not to fluctuate significantly and approximately 90,000 people is an average count of missing persons on any given day.
When law enforcement takes a missing person report the descriptive information and classification is entered into the NCIC computer database. There are six categories used in NCIC.
As of May 31, 2018, the numbers below reflect active missing person cases in each classification used by law enforcement to describe the circumstances of each missing person’s disappearance.
“When an adult with disabilities goes missing, police and family members face an especially difficult time getting and maintaining public awareness of the case,” says Lauth.
While Amber Alerts are used for endangered children who are reported missing, the Silver Alert is used for seniors who go missing that may have diminished mental capacity, such as someone with Alzheimer’s. However, an alert does not exist for cases like Sarah Galloway.
“Missing adults typically receive less media attention in comparison to children and can be due to age, race, gender and even socioeconomic status,” says Lauth. “Sadly, cases that do receive a lot of media attention tend to be cases where the details of the disappearance are dramatic and sensational and the missing person is young, white, and beautiful.”
Sarah is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 100 lbs. She has brown hair and brown eyes that are crossed. She has visible overbite and scars on her fingers. The morning she vanished she was wearing a grey sweater, a red T-shirt and black pants.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Sarah Galloway, please call Tucson Police Department at 520-88-CRIME (27463) or 520-351-4900.