MSP Help Families of Missing Persons


Antoinette Simpson's mother went missing from a group home in Southfield in April and since then, Simpson says things haven't been easy.

"It's been rough," she said. "It's been a living nightmare for my family and her friends."

Simpson made the trip to the Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath Township seeking comfort.

"I came here just to network basically," she said. "Just to talk to other people to get some form of counseling, some other glimpse of hope. To get maybe a success story from someone else who's had a missing person or missing loved one or just to see how other people are coping."

People like Tanya Zuvers, whose three sons -- the Skelton Boys -- disappeared three years ago, have seen their roles transform from the first year she attended.

"They're maybe not in the same place that I am," she said. "But we've all had the same emotions and same feelings and it's great to be able to share that."

Zuvers said she handed out her phone number and encouraged other families to contact her.

"You have this sense of you're not alone," she said. "That there is companionship and friendship. I think I'm going to walk away with more friends, more connections, and a renewed sense that [the boys] are still being looked for."

That is exactly the intent of Missing Persons Day, said Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police. The department provides an opportunity for families to meet with detectives, to ensure that their records are accurate in the computer system. From there, families met in a separate room for refreshments and to listen to speakers.

"It's a pretty traumatic experience to relive the missing person when you're talking to law enforcement," Shaw said. "We try to get the family members together with other family members that are there."

To take their minds off things, the police brought a helicopter, a crime scene unit and a mobile command post to show off.

State Police estimate there are more than 4,000 families with missing members. Half of those are children. Shaw says their cases can be almost as trying on the officers as it is on the families.

"You see a lot of emotions from these families, you see a lot of officers are going to be shedding just as many tears as many of these families as the families will these loved ones," he said. "If there's just one family that's missing a person, that's one too many for us."


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