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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Searching for Missing Children


This week Falcon Heene a six year old boy living in the Fort Collins Colorado area went missing for almost 6 hours. The chaos that ensued after a home-made flying saucer looking silver balloon was released from the backyard of Richard and Mayumi Heene’s home when the family thought Falcon Heene might be inside caused a delay in the little boy being found.

Falcon Heene was the boy believed to be in the balloon that lifted off from the family’s back yard where it was tethered. A Nation watched anxiously as authorities tracked the object as it floated at various altitudes and for several miles, and because the boy was suspected of being in the balloon the search for him may have suffered on the ground level.

After being in the air for 2 hours the balloon descended, landing in a field and as authorities secured the balloon to prevent it from lifting off a second time they realized that Falcon Heene was not inside the balloon. Next it was reported that a basket that may have been attached to the bottom of the balloon may have fallen off and authorities were searching from air and on the ground in fear the boy had fallen from the sky.

As I blogged on this incident I wrote from the beginning that perhaps the little boy never was in the balloon, and I hoped the family and authorities would search inside the home and around the immediate home in case Falcon Heene was hiding in fear of the repercussions if he had accidently released the balloon. Often young children will hid if he or she believes they are in trouble and these hiding spaces are often overlooked in searches.

In Camden New Jersey in 2005, 3 boys (unrelated) disappeared after playing outside the home of one of the boys. The boys Jesstin Pagan age 5; Daniel Agosto, age 6; and Anibal Cruz, age 11 disappeared on a Wednesday evening. After the families searched unsuccessfully for the boys they called in authorities to help. During the search for the boy’s family, friends, neighbors and authorities worked as a team to try and find the boys.

The Delaware River which was only a few blocks away became the focus of the search for the three boys, although the boys had never gone to the river by themselves in the past. Two days later with no sign of the boy’s one of the boy’s father opened the trunk of a car located on the property and discovered his son and the other two boys inside.

When a child disappears, unless there is direct evidence to show a child was abducted, the search must include any area a child may be able to crawl, or wiggle into and as an area is searched the areas checked should be marked with a bright colored X. By using a methodical and visual means of checking an area it allows anyone who enters the scene at a later time to know the old refrigerator was checked because of the large bright X. This saves time from people rechecking or overlooking a place a child may have become entrapped.

Car trunks, toy trunks, crawl spaces, old boxes, sheds, dressers must be checked in the initial search for a missing child. Children are inquisitive and will often explore or play in anything that can add to their imagination. Many older model toy boxes do not have a way for air to enter into the box and may only allow it to be opened from the outside. Once inside a person is trapped until someone lets them out. Recent laws now require lids to stay open and to have an inside release mechanism to allow a person trapped inside to escape. Also there must be a way for air to enter the toy trunk even when closed.

Old refrigerators and other appliances should never be set out to the trash or disposed of without first removing the door. This prevents anyone from hiding inside and becoming entrapped. In recent years auto makers were required to install emergency truck releases inside all car trunks. Show children how to use the emergency release and teach them never to play in or around cars. Cars are not toys and children should never be left in or around a car unattended. Remind children never to play inside appliances, boxes, trunks, and cars.

When searching for a missing child remember to start high and end low but to look everywhere and use a marking method that let’s other people involved in the search know the area was checked properly. Large areas with lot of hiding spaces or storing a lot of junk may require a second search by someone else. Remember that each of us thinks differently and one person’s idea may be the key finding a missing child.

If an area is not marked do not just accept someone’s word that it was checked. Recheck the area and properly mark it after searching. When a child is missing it is easy to forget where one looked and easy to overlook the obvious. Finally, after a quick search by family if a child has not been located than the authorities should be notified immediately to help locate a missing child.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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