Rutledge Recognizes Families of Arkansas’s Missing Persons at Never Forgotten Event
July 17, 2018
FBI receives Star of Excellence Award; Trumann Police and Mississippi County Sheriff receive Morgan’s Choice Award
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the seventh annual Never Forgotten – Arkansas Takes Action event at the Benton Event Center. The daylong event helps raise awareness of issues surrounding missing persons and recognizes Arkansas’s missing children and adults.
“This annual event is important for families across Arkansas to know they have the support from the State and members of law enforcement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Though time will never heal the pain and uncertainty these families go through each day, I hope they understand that we will never forget their loved ones.”
Law enforcement officers heard from Sarah Krebs, a detective sergeant forensic artist with the Michigan State Police, explaining how her evidence-based drawings and three-dimensional reconstructions aid in the investigation of unidentified remains, the apprehension of suspects and the resolution of missing person cases.
Officers also heard from Derek VanLuchene, CART Program coordinator with the National Criminal Justice Training Center – AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, as well as President and Founder of Ryan United. He presented the case study of 4-year-old Maci Lilly, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and was abducted from a playground in Montana in February 2016. Maci’s disappearance led to a statewide Amber Alert and a successful recovery. His discussion focused on working with child witnesses and how to locate resources in an active search and recovery.
“No matter how much time goes by, families of the missing deserve answers,” said VanLuchene. “There is never ‘closure’ in these cases. These families keep fighting. They keep searching. We need to bring these cases to the forefront. Events like this help bring them home by getting information out to the public. With modern technology and good police work, these families will get answers.”
At the same time as the law enforcement session, a panel discussion was held for the families of missing persons on available resources to assist them with locating their loved ones. Participating agencies included Arkansas Crime Information Center, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Arkansas State Crime Lab, Arkansas State Police, FBI, the Morgan Nick Foundation and others.
A luncheon was hosted by Rutledge to honor the families of the missing and thank law enforcement for assisting in missing persons cases. The event also provided support and networking opportunities for families still searching and for those who have tragically lost loved ones.
During the luncheon, The Morgan’s Choice Award, named after Morgan Nick, who went missing in 1995, was presented to the Trumann Police Department and the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office for their roles in quickly recovering missing persons from their respective counties this year. The Star of Excellence Award was presented to Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch with the FBI – Little Rock District office for her continued efforts to combat human trafficking and internet crimes against children.
In 2016, Rutledge was part of a collaborative effort to launch a new website, NeverForgotten.ar.gov, which enables the public to access information on missing persons cases with an easy-to-use searchable database. Rutledge also recently launched #MissingPersonMondays, a social media campaign to highlight one individual listed on the NeverForgotten.ar.gov site every Monday throughout the year. And earlier this week, Rutledge announced the creation of a resource guide that is available for families of missing persons to provide a list of best practices to help families work through this difficult process.
The Attorney General’s office serves as an information clearinghouse for reports on Arkansas’s missing children and acts as the main point of contact for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
To reach the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline, call (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).