In May 2009, New Jersey resident Joe Dunsavage vanished during his international trip to Honduras. He left his wallet, passport, and luggage in his hotel room and set sail on his Catamaran to go fishing – never to be heard from again.
The 49-year old mortgage company manager also had a business in the Central American country, so he was familiar with Honduras and its culture.
His family searched for him for months in Honduras. His brother Jeff Dunsavage maxed out his credit cards and even mortgaged his home paying for planes and helicopters to search Honduran waters and other Central American countries nearby.
(Jeff and his father Ed Dunsavage hold a picture of Joe Dunsavage.)
Each May 10th marks another year of not knowing. Not knowing if Joe is alive or dead. Joe’s father Ed Dunsavage told NJ.com, “It’s an anniversary for everyone else,” Ed said. “To us, it’s what we live with every day.”
It has also been a learning lesson for the Dunsavage family. Initially, the Dunsavages tried to get the US Military to assist in the search for the missing American. Then they contacted the State Department, Consulate, and federal representatives to no avail.
In addition to lacking assistance in the effort to find Joe, the family has faced other challenges because Joe was missing while traveling internationally. For example, even though the Dunsavage family believes Joe to be deceased, they were initially unable to collect Joe’s $150,000 life insurance for Joe’s two teen sons.
After experiencing unimaginable frustration and going into debt to find his brother, Jeff decided he wanted to ensure other families who have loved ones missing in other countries do not go through the same heartache his family has in their attempt to find assistance.
Jeff started an organization called the Missing Americans Project to advocate for families of missing persons while setting out to change the way the government deals with cases of missing persons. “It’s about getting the policy changed and getting a fair and humane interpretation that enables families who are in our situation to not have to wait many years or go through a third world corrupt court system,” Jeff said.
Much of the problem the Dunsavage faced could have been avoided if the State Department’s Foreign Affairs had issued a finding of a presumption of death. However, officials informed Jeff that he needed to go to Honduran authorities to obtain a declaration of death – something Jeff Dunsavage does not believe would be advantageous given the infamously corrupt judicial system in Honduras.
But according to the State Department’s own handbook, the department’s decision to issue a declaration of death is “discretionary” based up the circumstances of each case and “whether the government exercising jurisdiction over the place where the death is believed to have occurred lacks laws or procedures for making findings of presumptive death.” Yet, the State Department declined to help.
While the State Department’s own website concedes corruption exists within the Honduran judicial system in matters of business, it doesn’t acknowledge corruption in any other capacity.
The website states, “There are complaints that the Honduran judicial system exhibits favoritism and vulnerability to external pressure and bribes.”
“The real story is that the state Department won’t do what it is authorized to do by law, and our senators have given up on helping us.”
The State Department’s website reads, “Honduras Travel Advisory Level 3: Reconsider Travel.
“Reconsider travel to Honduras due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Violent crime such as homicide and armed robbery is common. Violent gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, rape and narcotics and human trafficking, is widespread. Local police and emergency services lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime.”
Sadly, the Dunsavage family is not alone when dealing with both American and foreign governmental entities that are unresponsive when a loved one goes missing across borders.
A Son Missing in Costa Rica
On August 11, 2009, Luda and Roma Gimelfarb said goodbye to their son David at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. David, a 28-year old graduate student of Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, was on his way to Costa Rica for a six-day vacation. They had no idea that would be the last time they would see their son.
Four days later, they found themselves going through the same customs line their son had encountered at Liberia Costa Rica Airport. The previous night they had received a call from the hotel manager where David had been staying notifying them their son had not slept in his room for the two previous nights. His rental car was found in the parking lot of nearby Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
(Hacienda Guachipelin, where David Gimelfarb stayed.)
David had been staying at the Hacienda Guachipelin, a 54-room motel-style compound located on a desolate road that leads to Rincon de la Vieja. This was his last adventure before starting his fourth year of graduate school.
David had been volunteering as a therapist for a mental health facility on the West Side of Chicago which he found rewarding but stressful. In fact, David’s parents were worried he was having a hard time coping with the recent loss of his Russian grandmother, whom he was very close.
As reported in Chicago Magazine, David was introverted, described as socially awkward at times. Before his departure to Costa Rica, he told his adviser at Adler that he thought the trip would be a way to build his confidence. “I told him I was worried about him,” recalls Janna Henning, a coordinator for the school’s traumatic stress psychology program. “But he said that he’d traveled alone before and would be fine.”
David had been a reserved and shy little boy whose English was broken. He had always felt like an outsider and the early experience had always stuck with him according to his father Roma, a chemical engineer at Morton Salt.
According to David’s friends, David adjusted in college and joining a fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. They describe him as having a dry sense of humor, never having had a serious relationship with a girl.
David was very introspective for his age and wrote in a private Facebook message 13 days before his trip, that he feared his own mortality and was struggling with how to confront his future. “Life is finite,” David wrote. “We must love it no matter what, so we can be satisfied with it when we look back on it.”
David seemed to be making life memorable and had traveled to Hawaii by himself to hike and in his apartment, he kept a copy of the book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel which encourages readers take immerse themselves in the local cultures they are visiting.
David knew well of the risks of traveling alone. Ironically, just before his senior year one of his fraternity brothers disappeared in southern Ecuador while hiking alone in a national park.
On August 11th, David woke up and ate alone in the outdoor dining room at 9 a.m., then left the Hacienda to make the five-mile drive to the park in his rental car. One of the motel employees described David as appearing contemplative or sad that morning.
He talked to his parents every day and had called his mother Luda the day before telling her that he had met a girl and hoped to meet up with her again. His mother asked if she was local and David only responded that she “seemed very nice”. He told Luda he planned to hike the park the following day but complained the motel was too quiet and too far from beaches implying he might not stay at the motel the entire six-day visit. That was the last time she spoke with her son.
(Geothermal mud pits that line the path David Gimelsfarb took that fateful day.)
Rincon de la Vieja National Park is a vast area of beauty with ancient trees, waterfalls and bubbling geothermal mud pits that can reach upwards to 200 degrees. Visitors flock to the area to hike near the active volcano, which is often masked by cloud cover offering a mystique to the land. As legend has it an old witch inhabits the volcano’s peak and became a recluse after her father threw her lover into the crater in disapproval.
(Rincon de la Vieja National Park.)
David was excited to visit the lush tropical destination. However majestic the forest, locals will tell you the area is as wild as it comes with at least four varieties of poisonous snakes, pumas, jaguars prowling the dense rainforest.
The trails are like labyrinths and not well marked. In fact, drug traffickers are known to use them to smuggle narcotics into Nicaragua, only 25 miles to the north.
It is known approximately 300 visitors from all over the world were also there on August 11, 2009. We know he walked into the Visitors hut at approximately 10 a.m. and wrote his name in the visitor’s log.
David spoke to the ranger in Spanish telling him he intended to hike the easy almost two-mile loop called the Las Pailas or Cauldrons, named after the numerous steam holes along the path. David walked out of the hut, up a wobbly footbridge crossing the beautiful cool waters of the Colorado River, and was never seen again.
Luda had called the motel several times when she did not hear from David that evening. The following morning, panicked, she requested someone from the motel enter his room and conduct a welfare check.
That evening, the owner of the motel Jose Tomas Batalla called the Gimelfarbs to inform them David had not slept in his bed the evening before, his suitcase still in room 16. He also told Luda and Roma that David’s car had been found parked in the lot at the park.
David’s parents went online and immediately booked a flight to Costa Rica.
On August 13th, the motel manager opened the room and let the Gimelfarbs inside. The found the bed made, his suitcase, a couple of books of poetry on the nightstand. The manager then opened the room safe where David’s parents found their son’s passport, $600 of the $800 David was known to have on hand, and his cell phone.
It is believed David took his Northface backpack, his wallet with driver’s license and a couple credit cards. Also missing was David’s journal and a camera.
In the months that followed David’s disappearance, the Red Cross, local police, dog teams, hunters, volunteers and even the U.S. Army Search and Rescue team stationed on a nearby air base in Honduras helped conduct intensive searches of the park and surrounding areas.
Thousands of flyers were distributed along with a $100,000 reward offered. The family still receives email and phone calls from people who claim to have seen David, who speaks fluent Spanish, around Costa Rica. Some describe seeing a person who cautiously speaks to people and doesn’t appear to know who he is, possibly suffering from amnesia.
When the Gimelfarbs called the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, to request assistance, they were told it is not the embassy’s responsibility and that he had traveled there on his own. Basically, the Gimelfarbs found out they were on their own.
“We believe that when Abraham Lincoln said, “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities,” he was right, said Roma Gimelfarb, David’s father.
(Luda and Roma Gimelfarb sit on a park bench hoping to see their beloved son David again.)
The Gimelfarbs, both Russian emigrants, say they have suffered nine years not knowing if their only son is sick, hungry, cold, held hostage or abused, and feel utterly powerless.
One of the last sightings of a man with a slight build and red hair came in from Limon, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, about a five-hour drive from the park. Witnesses said the man was disoriented, dirty and unable to speak but gestured he needed something to drink to the owners of a small mini-mart. The witnesses recognized the man from news reports about David’s disappearance. They felt so strongly it was David they took the man to a police station where police conducted a short interview and released him without even taking a picture.
Some believed David may have gone to Costa Rica with the intention of “falling off the grid.” Sean Curran a detective at Chicago’s Highland Park Police Department told Chicago Magazine that after going through David’s belongings, financial situation, reading his journals and talking to relatives and friends there is little evidence that points to a conscious decision to disappear.
However, two clues did make Curran take notice: the copy of Vagabonding, a book about long-term travel in other countries and a series of maps he discovered on David’s laptop. On the night before his disappearance, he had studied maps of Honduras, Columbia, Peru, Chile, and Nicaragua, a baffling aspect since David had only planned to be gone for six days.
Curran, also a dad, told Chicago Magazine he still finds the case troubling. “I don’t think he intentionally did this to his parents.”
Exhausted and shattered, David parents believe their son may still be alive. They live the daily rollercoaster of despair and maintaining hope – and they know they are not alone.
Like Jeff Dunsavage, the Gimelfarbs decided to create the David Gimelfarb International Rescue Resources Foundation to help other families find their loved ones who have gone abroad – and gone missing.
As of May 31, 2018, there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, statistics involving those who go missing overseas are not available. Experts estimate the number of individuals missing in foreign countries is in the thousands.
Family members of those who go missing while traveling internationally find police in other countries are less equipped to investigate missing person cases. Behind each missing person case is a shattered family.
American embassies do not have trained personnel or a budget to assist families. Despite funding billions in programs in foreign countries, not one penny is allocated to assist in the search for missing Americans abroad.
Most families have no idea where to start searching for their loved ones, nor the budget to hire a private investigator, helicopter pilots, canine search teams and other search-related expenses. They receive little to no guidance from their government.
In the years since David disappeared, at least 10 foreigners have gone missing in Costa Rica and over 20 US citizens have been murdered there since 2011, with several other countries issuing travel warnings citing the rising crime rate in the country.
The Gimelfarbs live every day wondering if maybe David had seen poachers or smugglers in the park and killed. They wonder if he may have headed back to the motel and been the victim of a con. Who was the “very nice” girl David had referred to?
What if he was robbed on the way back to the hotel? Maybe abducted and his organs harvested. Though that scenario might be unbelievable to most, the black market for donor organs is a growing problem in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
The number of situations is never-ending.
To ensure every lead was followed the Gimelfarbs hired four private investigators. One private investigator and former military intelligence officer from Azerbaijan spent approximately a month in Central America searching for David. He concluded David had left the park and was killed near the motel (even though his vehicle was found still sitting in the lot at the park).
Another private investigator came to the conclusion David got lost after the sun went down and wandered onto private property at the edge of the park and killed after mistakenly being taken for a thief or poacher (even though David arrived at the park in the morning and only intended on staying a few hours).
The Organismo de Investigacion Judicial which is Costa Roca’s equal to the FBI conducted an investigation interviewing the motel employees but never talked to park rangers or visitors at the park.
The official never conducted an official search of David’s room at the motel yet closed its investigation without any inference. The report indicates “All out efforts have come up empty.”
Like the Dunsavage family who bankrolled their own search, Roma estimates they have spent over $300,000 on their search efforts. “We just want a complete and thorough investigation,” said Roma. “We’ve never had that.”
Thomas Lauth, owner of Lauth Investigations International has worked over 20 years on missing person cases both within the US and internationally says, “As all families of missing persons will agree, they have become a member of a club no one wants to join.”
According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there are 86,927 active missing persons cases as of April 30, 2018. These cases include juvenile disappearances, endangered missing, involuntary or “non-family” abductions, those with disabilities, catastrophe victims and those entered into NCIC as “other.”
When a person we love goes missing, a time of great emotional turmoil and intense ambiguity follows. Dr. Pauline Boss said decades ago, having a loved one go missing is one of the most traumatic of human experiences.
Not only are families trying to manage the trauma of “not knowing” where their loved one is, they must quickly learn to maneuver the legal system. When do you report a loved one missing? What happens when police get involved? What can you do to help find a missing person? These are just a few of the questions a family of a missing person is facing.
Unfortunately, there is no handbook to fully educate someone as to what do to and how to emotionally handle the initial shock or help maintain the energy needed to find a loved one who has mysteriously vanished. However, there are many things you can do to help find a missing loved one and help reduce stress for family members.
There are various contributors to cause a person to go missing. A family member may suffer from Alzheimer’s or mental illness, they may be a victim of domestic violence, live a “high risk” lifestyle, even be a victim of a vehicular accident. There are also disappearances that cannot be immediately explained.
The key to increasing the chances of finding a missing person safe is acting fast and initiating a search effort as soon as possible. From making the initial missing person report and engaging the public to hiring a private investigator, there is much to expedite finding a missing loved one.
1. Contact Authorities
Making a police report is the first and most vital step in initiating a search for a missing person. Filing a police report ensures local law enforcement is alerted to the disappearance and can assess the situation to determine if the person may be in danger and if an investigation needs to be conducted.
When a child goes missing, law enforcement is required by federal mandate to take the report immediately and enter the child’s information into the National Crime Information Center at the FBI. However, when an adult goes missing, law enforcement is not required to take an immediate report or enter the person into NCIC and may cite a 24-48 hour waiting period as policy. There is no federal mandate requiring law enforcement to wait to take a report. It helps to be calm while insisting they take a report.
Though many law enforcement agencies will take an immediate report, it is recommended to inform officers of anything to classify the person as endangered such as needing medications for a medical condition, suffering from mental illness, being a danger to themselves or others, a domestic violence situation, any threats the person may have received, a situation where it is out of normal behavior to vanish for any length of time. For example, if a mother regularly picks up her child at daycare and fails to arrive to pick their child up, this would be considered out of the behavioral norm.
Be prepared to provide authorities with the missing person’s descriptive information, a current photograph, a list of places the person frequents, list of friends and family, description of the missing person’s vehicle, a list of possessions missing or left behind, etc.
Once a report has been filed, be sure to keep a copy. Also request the NCIC number (this reflects the person has been entered into the national FBI database and available nationwide to all law enforcement, medical examiners, and Coroners).
Regardless of the circumstance of the disappearance, making a police report is beneficial.
2. Keep a Log
Keeping a log with the full names and contact information of all people you talk to is important in maintaining good communication with everyone involved in the search for the missing person and staying organized.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when making numerous phone calls, sending emails, etc. Keeping a log is a simple but important way to stay organized and maintain effectiveness, in addition to reducing stress.
3. Contact Family, Friends and Coworkers
Many times, a simple lack of communication can occur, and a missing person can be found by contacting family, friends, and coworkers.
Even after making a missing person report to police, be sure to reach out to others to find out if they have seen the individual or told where the person may be going. Life can become busy and simple miscommunication can contribute to a person being out of touch for extended periods of time. Cover all your bases by calling or texting friends to find out if they have heard from the missing person.
4. Social Networks
Social networks like Facebook can be integral to the search for a missing person from the moment the person is missing to an ongoing search if necessary.
Look at the missing person’s social media pages for their last posts, any information about their plans and even state of mind. Look to see if they received any harassing or strange communications from others.
Contact Facebook friends and ask if they have heard from or seen the missing person. It is important to provide any pertinent information you receive from others to the investigating law enforcement agency.
Also, Facebook and Instagram are the perfect places to obtain current photographs of the missing person to be provided to law enforcement and to make fliers.
5. Contact Jails, Homeless Shelters, Hospitals and Morgues
It is important to remain cognizant of law enforcement’s limitations when searching for a missing person, especially adults as they have a right to go missing if they so choose.
As difficult as it can be, it is necessary to contact hospitals and morgues to see if the individual is injured in the hospital or unidentified in a morgue. This can be a very difficult task and you may want to ask a friend or family member to help make the calls.
6. Register the Missing Person with Organizations Offering Resources
If you are searching for a missing child, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) as soon as possible. NCMEC specializes in providing services for families and children who are missing. NCMEC can be reached at 1-800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678).
For families searching for someone with mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides resources for families. Their website also offers many resources.
Contact the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) at www.findthemissing.org or www.namus.org. NAMUS is a powerful resource where information about missing persons is entered by family members of missing persons, the criminal justice community, law enforcement, and medical examiners and is publicly accessible.
7. Make a One-Page Flyer
Make a one-page flyer of the missing person. The flyer should contain the following:
- Preferably two current photographs of the missing person
- Full name
- Height, Weight, Age
- Photo of vehicle and license plate
- Place last seen
- Phone number of investigating law enforcement
*NOTE: It is recommended you never place your own phone number or contact information on a missing person flyer. First, it is very important calls are handled by a professional so as not to compromise an investigation. Second, many times families will receive cruel, harassing, and misleading calls from the public and it is very important to protect yourself and your family by buffering these calls.
Engage the public by asking community store owners to hang signs in their place of businesses. Place one at your local post office and anywhere you can legally hang a public notice.
8. Create a Website and Social Media Page
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social network sites can be instrumental when searching for a missing loved one, especially if they are not found immediately. With any missing person case, it is important to maintain awareness and keep the public engaged in the search.
- Create a site with an engaging name like “Find Jane Doe” or “Missing Jane Smith”. This will help bring your page up in Google and related search results.
- Post recent pictures and include specific descriptive information to include the clothing they were last wearing, jewelry, glasses, tattoos, scars, etc.
- Upload a PDF version of the flier so others can share and download to post in their communities.
- If your loved one has a mental illness, you may want to simply say the person is “endangered” due to a medical condition or vulnerable and needs medications.
- Add links to any news stories.
- Upload a video and make a personal public appeal.
- Make sure to provide the investigating law enforcement agency’s number and encourage people to call them directly with information and leads.
9. Alert your Local Newspapers and Media
Getting local media to assist can sometimes be difficult. News stations are not likely to cover a missing person story unless it comes from law enforcement. It is much easier if law enforcement puts out a press release indicating a person is in danger. Speak to the detectives and ask if they will issue a press release.
10. Hiring a Private Investigator
When is it time to hire a private investigator? There is no easy answer, but it is encouraged to consult with one early on, especially if the person has not returned home within a few days.
Because there is only so much law enforcement can do, at times finding the missing person requires additional assistance, both professional and specialized.
A missing person private investigator has access to databases and systems the general public does not, making finding a missing person a much easier task. An experienced private detective with experience working with law enforcement can be an asset to a missing person investigation, and can ease the burden off families, allowing family and friends to concentrate on other efforts, like social networking and keeping the public engaged.
Experienced private investigators can access information, interview witnesses and community members in order to generate new leads for an investigation, sharing information with the investigating law enforcement agency to ensure all rocks are being overturned.
Because their missing person private investigation services are being paid for, a private investigator will ensure locating the missing person has their full attention.
It is also advisable to look for a missing person private investigator who has experience working with media, so they may comment on the case without compromising law enforcement’s investigation.
About Kym L. Pasqualini
Kym Pasqualini is founder and served as CEO for the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults from 1994-2010. Kym has worked with media world-wide and quoted in publications such as People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Glamour. Kym has appeared in local and national media to include CNN, FOX, BBC, Montel Williams and the John Walsh Show. Kym continues to work with families of the missing and law enforcement nationwide.
Kym has started the website, www.missingleads.com, and the facebook discussion group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/missingleads focusing on locating clues and keeping focus on cold missing persons and unsolved homicide cases.
The month of May is a time to celebrate the women in our lives who brought us up. During this time, when they should have been talking of treasured childhood memories while visiting with family, one Baltimore family was in the grip of fear and uncertainty following the disappearance of a mother in their lives. Akia Eggleston, 22, was reported missing on May 7, 2017, and since then, both family and law enforcement have been trying to make sense of her disappearance. Was she a victim of intimate partner violence, or did she simply vanish without a trace?
As if it were not horrifying enough for a loved one to go missing without answers, the anxiety of Akia’s disappearance was only escalated by the fact she was eight months pregnant. Shortly before her disappearance, she’d recently had a prenatal checkup for, what her doctors described as, a “high-risk pregnancy.” The baby was determined to be breach and Akia was scheduled for a cesarean. She was placed on bedrest.
When Akia failed to show up for her own baby shower, her loved ones began to suspect something was wrong. Her family told police Akia was excited about her impending delivery and would never have left her two-year-old daughter willingly. She also placed a $900 deposit down for the baby shower.
Concerned family calls went unanswered prompting the family to go check on her at the apartment where she was staying. What they found only heightened their suspicions. According to Akia’s stepfather, Shawn Wilkinson, “The only thing left in her apartment was her bed and a couple of dressers. It looked like she had moved out, but we know she couldn’t move anything because of her high-risk pregnancy. She could barely walk.” A recent article by Fox News in Baltimore, marking the one-year anniversary of Akia’s disappearance, also notes her personal belongings were missing and there was a sizable hole in the wall.
One of the unique problems in the case of missing adults in the United States is law enforcement is not always able to treat cases like these with the urgency they might require. Akia’s age was a factor preventing law enforcement from ruling out she did leave the apartment of her own free will. According to The Charley Project—a publicity vehicle maintaining awareness of missing persons cases—reports before the time of her disappearance, the family did not know the identity of the father of her unborn child, only that he was a family friend. Law enforcement determined from text messages between Akia and her female roommate she was planning on moving in with him. Reports indicated Akia had remained active during her pregnancy despite having been placed on bedrest, so law enforcement had to consider the possibility Akia left the apartment of her own accord.
Another piece of evidence, strengthening this resolve, was the last confirmed time Akia Eggleston was seen alive—on surveillance footage at a nearby bank. Detective Michael Reno told Crime Watch Daily, “The bank surveillance shows her at the bank by herself. She doesn’t look disheveled, she doesn’t look like she’s under any kind of stress, she’s there on her own. She presents a cashier’s check to the teller, she receives cash, and she leaves.” The amount of money withdrawn by Akia is characterized by Reno as “a lot,” which might be another explanation as to why police did not suspect foul play when first investigating.
It wasn’t until July of 2017 investigators announced they were considering foul play in the disappearance of Akia Eggleston. Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith said, “At this state, I think we’re prepared to pivot, foul play is something we’re absolutely exploring. We’re obviously beyond the point where she could have given birth.” Akia had been placed on a notification registry alerting law enforcement if she was admitted to a hospital to deliver her unborn child, but she never did. The serious implications of her high-risk pregnancy also make it unlikely she would have been able to survive a home birth without medical assistance.
In October of 2017, a vigil was held outside Akia’s home. Shawn Wilkinson was there to speak, reaching out to the community for answers about his stepdaughter’s disappearance, “We need that one individual to step forward and give us some closure.” At the vigil, while everyone prayed for Akia’s safe return home, an eerie clue surfaced. Someone approached Wilkinson and claimed they’d found something in a bush outside the apartment. “I went behind the bush. I flipped it over with my foot to see what it said. It was her bank card,” Wilkinson said. Authorities were immediately contacted, and the card was seized as evidence.
Now one year later, Wilkinson and his family still do not have answers. Is it possible an expectant mother who is prescribed bed rest could move herself and many belongings out of her apartment alone? Or could the unidentified father of the child have played a role? Remember, when her family went to check on her well-being, they noticed a significant hole in the wall. While thought to be woefully under-reported, the National Institutes of Health estimates 300,000 women are the victims of intimate partner violence during pregnancy. The NIH also reports the second leading cause of death in pregnant women—after car accidents—is homicide, with more than two-thirds of those women being killed in their first trimester. Authorities have reportedly spoken to the expectant father of Akia’s unborn child but have not yet named any suspects in their investigation.
Akia Eggleston is 22 years old and is described as 4’8” tall, weighing 145 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes. She would no longer be pregnant. Anyone with information regarding her case is urged to call the Baltimore Police Department at (443) 984-7385.
Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, a private investigation firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana–delivering proactive and diligent solutions for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website.
Elaine Park vanished into thin air on Jan. 28, 2017, from Calabasas, the gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains located in Los Angeles County, Calif.
Elaine is a beautiful 21-year-old Korean-American young woman who is described as spunky, outgoing by those who know her. Before her disappearance, she had been looking forward to attending Pierce College. A young lady who loves performing in musical theater and dance companies. She has also worked hard to pursue her dreams as an actress.
Elaine has appeared in several roles in TV shows and some movies including Crazy Stupid Love, Role Models, E.R. Mad TV, and Desperate Housewives. Not yet a household name, she was certainly headed in that direction.
In a Hollywood Reporter article “Search for Missing Actress Intensifies as $250,000 Cash Reward Offered”, according to the family’s private investigator Jayden Brant located in Beverly Hills, Elaine’s case is classified as an “unwilling missing person” by authorities and foul play is suspected.
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center, as of Oct. 31, 2017, there were 87,643 active missing person cases in the United States. In Calif., there are 19,431 active missing person cases, with 1,829 classified as “Involuntary” and another 4,234 classified as “Endangered” within six categories of entry in the national database.
Elaine had stayed the night with her boyfriend Divine “Div” Compere. Compere is the son of Hollywood businessman Shakim Compere, who co-owns Flavor Unit Entertainment with Queen Latifa.
Compere told police that he and Elaine had gone to a movie the night before she mysteriously vanished and returned to his home at 1:00am that evening, taking Uber and later confirmed on surveillance. Compere also claims at approximately 4:00 am, Elaine suddenly woke up shaking and singing which he attributed to a panic attack. Surveillance captures Elaine walking to her car two hours later, not appearing distressed. Video also shows Elaine’s vehicle leaving Divine’s compound, near the 2600 block of Delphine Lane in the rugged Coldwater Canyon of Calabasas.
A resident of La Cresenta, Calif., Elaine was reported missing two days later when family became concerned she had not returned home, calls or responded to texts.
As reported in an NBC Dateline interview, “Mother Appeals for Continued Help in Search for Missing California Daughter,” Elaine’s mother Susan Parks said, “I called (police) and, because of her age, the police thought she had just not contacted me. So, I thought, OK, just wait one more day. But my fear kept growing. The official report was made Monday.”
Police had initially considered Elaine to be voluntarily missing until Feb 2, when Elaine’s charcoal gray 2015 Honda Civic, was found abandoned in a desolate area, approximately 20 miles away, along Hwy 1-Pacific Coast Highway just south of Corral Canyon Rd., in Malibu.
The vehicle’s doors were unlocked with keys still in the ignition. Personal belongings were found inside, including her keys, backpack, cell phone, purse, makeup, cash and laptop.
Police conducted a ground search with bloodhounds along the cliffs and shore but there was no sign of Elaine in the area
Elaine’s car was found along Pacific Coast Highway, near Corral Canyon.
“It’s suspicious in the way that we found her car, her cell phone and things, in the manner we did,” Glendale Police Sgt. Robert William told Dateline. “We can’t rule foul play in or out because plain and simple, we don’t have any evidence to do so.”
Authorities have said the boyfriend has been cooperative and not considered a suspect, but theories and suspicion abound on Internet sleuth sites.
At a news conference, Elaine’s mother Susan Park said, “It’s completely a mystery, unimaginable. How can someone just disappear without a trace?” Park has made numerous public pleas for help to find her missing daughter including an emotional plea and “time-limited” $500,000 reward offered for information.
Rolling Stone writer Neil Strauss, partnered with Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger to raise awareness wearing T-shirts with “Find Elaine Park.” Einziger, along with his wife Marie who live in the area where Elaine went missing. Appearing on KROQ, they asked the public for help to keep the search for Elaine going.
Marie Einziger, Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, and Rolling Stone writer Neil Strauss – Courtesy KROQ
Now, with the $500,000 reward expired, along with lack of leads, Elaine’s family and friends are even more desperate to find her. The family has created a presence on social media with a Facebook page “Help Find Elaine Park” dedicated to the continued search for information that may help find her. Her mother has posted fliers and searched places Elaine loved to go, including the boardwalks. The family is doing what they can, but they need additional help.
“Missing person investigations can be quite complex, and one must always think outside the box during an investigation,” says private investigator and MissingLeads.com contributor Thomas Lauth. Lauth has over two decades private investigation experience on missing person cases and headquartered in Ind. “As important as it is to pound the pavement to obtain information, I can’t stress enough, the importance of engaging the public in the search for a missing person. Many crimes are solved by raising awareness, generating that one lead, and social media is a vital tool.”
In Andy Nguyen’s report in the L.A. Times, “$250K reward offered in missing LaCresenta missing woman’s disappearance,” family private investigator Jayden Brant says, “It’s our strong contention that Elaine Park is an involuntary missing person and that foul play is involved in her disappearance.”
The passing months torturous for Elaine’s mother Susan, enduring having her child missing, one of the most traumatic of human experiences. With only the strength a mother could muster, Susan Park remains focused on finding answers, most importantly and no matter the outcome focused on bringing her daughter home.