Scared Monkeys asked me to do some occasional articles on the general phenomenon of missing people, and on individual cases. Needless to say, I’m honored and pleased to do so. Being asked to do these articles does not imply endorsement of my thoughts on Natalee Holloway or any other missing person case. I am no expert in this area and make no claim to be one.
Those people who have read my posts in the last two years know that I work with the family of Amy Bradley, missing in the Caribbean since March 1998. I also do volunteer research for International Cruise Victims, which is dedicated to promoting safety on cruise ships and alerting the public to the difference between the benign image the cruise industry presents and the level of crime that actually exists. And I have done similar Internet research for the International Safe Travels foundation as time has allowed.
This weekend the world is awaiting the revelation of the fate of Harry Potter and other characters in that series. People are lined up to buy the last book; enterprising or unscrupulous individuals are competing to release the details of what happens; and the media are prepping us for a full-scale assault on bookstores by fans, money in hand, raging to know who lives and who dies.
I wonder how many of these people will give a thought to the plight of families in the “real” world who want to know the same thing about their loved ones? Harry Potter is fiction; the agony of these families is not.
According to Crime Library , 2,300 Americans are reported missing each day. I don’t know if that’s a running total or if it is the number of new cases. This source also says that 150,000 Americans were reported missing in 1980; the latest figure is 900,000. To some extent, the higher figure may indicate that more attention is being paid to these people. But whatever the accurate number may be, multiply it by the grief that any family must feel and be daunted at the thought.
Anyway, exact numbers are not important; the despair of the families is. These essays are not about me, but I want to share one experience. I began my interest in this field when Chandra Levy went missing in 2001, a case that gripped the nation then and that remains unsolved. Before that I had never thought much about missing people; it was something outside of my experience, and had never happened to anyone that I knew.
Susan Levy, shown in her Modesto home with a portrait of her daughter Channdra
As I became interested in Chandra’s case, it occurred to me that there must be other missing people as well. So one Saturday morning I went to the office where I was working and did random Internet searches for missing people. Within half an hour I had seen more than I ever wanted to; hundreds – hundreds! – of smiling photos were on file, each a life that had value, each a life that may or may not have been ended, each a life that now was shrouded in mystery. The answers were out there, but I didn’t know them.
From the outset of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, Clint Van Zandt has done some of the best reporting on the tragic and at most times confusing events surrounding the disappearance. Read more of Van Zandt’s thoughts into the Dr. Phil thoughts that Natalee Holloway may still be alive theory. Clint Van Zandt met with Beth Twitty prior to the show and said the following. (full article)
Before we went on camera, Beth and I sat together. She was cold and shaking, and she’d obviously lost some weight since I first met her in Aruba this summer. As I put my arm around her I said, “Beth, you know that statistically Natalee is probably dead.” (We had discussed this in Aruba.) “I know,” she said, “but I can’t give up hope.”
Then Clint Van Zandt said one of the most profound comments that all should remember. Not just about Natalee Holloway, but a comment to all families, friends and individuals that have been affected by a missing person’s case.
“I told her as long as we all remembered Natalee, she’d never be lost”.
Everyone must remember this is about a missing teenage girl and a family’s efforts to not only deal with that tragedy but also the less than stellar performance of an investigation to find answers. All the hate aside, all the condemnation of the family aside which there has been far too much of in this missing person’s case as compared to others; its about a missing person and as Van Zandt says most likely a dead teenage girl.
A family’s desperation to find their daughter can be explained by their actions and what they do or say. What can’t be explained is the hate that has come from this missing person’s case that is no where seen in any other case. This hate existed long before any boycott ever existed.
Remember what Clint Van Zandt said on the Abrams Report, November 17, 2005. Does anyone ever want to be put in this position? How would you act or react if you ever were? The family of a missing person and of a missing child has an excuse as to how they act. What is everyone else’s?
But I sat there between the Bradley’s and between Beth, both that are desperately clinging on some type of hope that their daughter’s alive. And at this point, I think any of them would consider any hope… ( full transcript)
The Search for Natalee Holloway Follow Up
Eighteen-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared early last summer during a senior class trip to the island of Aruba. On a recent show, Dr. Phil joined the search for the missing teen and broke new ground in the case. He called for a boycott of Aruba and put his own investigators on the trail. Now, two months later, Natalee’s mother feels there is a strong chance her daughter is still alive. Hear, for the first time ever, the evidence she reveals to Dr. Phil. Also, learn how effective the boycott is and why a pair of Dr. Phil’s rescuers found themselves in need of a rescue. Plus, Natalee’s disappearance bears similarities to the case of another young woman who went missing in the same region. Meet the parents of Amy Bradley and see what strong evidence has them holding onto hope that their daughter is still alive.
George Allen Smith who mysteriously vanished from a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean July 5, 2005 was supposed to celebrate his 27th birthday yesterday. Unfortunately this was not the case. In one of the first statements made by his family since the disappearance they stated the following:
George Allen Smith IV was supposed to wake up tomorrow morning to his 27th birthday. He was supposed to head over to the Cos Cob Liquor store for work while his new wife, Jennifer Hagel, would have been inside a Westport classroom teaching third-graders.
None of that happened and yesterday, nearly three months after Smith mysteriously vanished from a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean, his family issued their first public comments since Smith disappeared July 5.
“George was a beautiful person in every facet of the word,” the family said in the statement. “We miss George so very much.”
This is much like another well publicized case of an upcoming birthday that appears will not be celebrated with the missing person either. Natalee Holloway’s family will have the upcoming difficult experience on October 21, 2005 they will have celebrated her birthday.
Smith’s family has pretty much remained silent and refused media requests for interviews. They have remained silent in the search for answers and information in to the disappearance of George Allen Smith.
The family has declined all media requests, and yesterday, they declined to say anything further than what was in the statement — which was published today on the eve of his birthday.
Smith’s family did, however, say the following with regards to what they would like their son’s legacy to be. They are calling on the government to make legislative changes into cruise ship travel and the protection of passengers.
At the end, the family calls for legislative changes to the cruise line industry that would better protect passengers and their family.
“We believe his legacy can be one that helps other families be spared of tragedies like ours,” the family said.
Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who earned praise from the Smith family for the help he and his staff have provided them, said he will ask to hold congressional hearings into the cruise industry.
“What’s more painful is what may have happened, how they heard about it and how poorly this kind of circumstance is followed up on. It raises all kinds of questions.”