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For immediate release: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
PR #4 - 2011

New Report: Missing Children Cases Increase; Abductions Remain Rare

Relatives of missed loved ones to “bank” their DNA at 10th annual Missing Persons’ Day

The number of children reported missing in New York State increased by 4 percent in 2010, but only two stranger abduction cases were reported, according to a report issued today by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The report notes that the vast majority of children reported as missing – 94 percent – turn out to be runaways.

In 2010, the State Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse (MECC), which is housed at DCJS, received 20,309 reports of missing children, 19,026 of which involved runaways, according to the MECC 2010 Annual Report.  Of the 196 reported abductions, 188 were familial abductions and six children were abducted by an acquaintance. There were only two cases reported in which a child was abducted by a stranger.

The entire report, with a county-by-county breakdown on missing children, is available on the DCJS website.

In addition to releasing the report, Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne announced today that DCJS will partner with the non-profit Center for HOPE on Saturday, April 9 to provide relatives of missing persons with an opportunity to “bank” their DNA in hopes that genetic fingerprinting will provide clues in missing persons and unidentified remains cases. Forensic specialists will be on hand at the 10th annual Missing Persons’ Day event at the New York State Museum in Albany.

New York State sponsors two key programs – AMBER Alerts and Missing Child/ College Student Alerts – that attempt to promptly enlist the public when a child or college student goes missing.

The AMBER Alert program is a voluntary partnership between DCJS, the New York State Police, the New York State Broadcasters Association, local law enforcement and others to immediately involve the public in the search for an abducted child. An AMBER Alert, which results in immediate dissemination of information on television and radio stations and at lottery terminals and highway variable message signs, is issued only when a child has been abducted and is believed to be in danger of serious bodily harm or death. In 2010, two AMBER alerts were issued:

  • On April 30, an AMBER Alert was issued at the request of the New York City Police Department when a mentally disabled 12-year-old girl left home with her four-year-old sister. The girls were found the following afternoon by a police official who had seen the alert.
  • On July 3, an AMBER Alert was issued at the request of the New York State Police after a five-month-old child was abducted from court-ordered foster care in Essex County by non-custodial parents. The child was recovered near Memphis, Tenn. and the abductors were arrested.

The Missing Child/ College Student Alert program is used in cases that do not meet the AMBER alert criteria. In those cases, broadcast station managers decide if and when to disseminate the information; highway variable message signs and lottery terminals are not used. Last year, one Missing Child/ College Student Alert was issued:

  • On Jan. 24, an alert was issued at the request of the New York City Police Department after a seven-year-old boy, Patrick Alford, went missing from foster care in Brooklyn. The boy is still missing.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying or heart-wrenching for a parent than to have their child go missing, regardless of whether the child is lost, abducted or ran away,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “Last year, every county in New York except Hamilton reported at least one missing child case. Twenty-eight of the 62 counties reported an increase in missing child cases, and 20 experienced a double-digit increase. We are committed to doing everything we can to, first, prevent these disappearances and, two, to facilitate the prompt and safe return of children when they do go missing.”

DCJS staff will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday – Missing Persons’ Day – to collect DNA from family members of missing persons. The initiative with the Center for HOPE allows relatives of missing persons to “bank” their DNA for comparison against unidentified remains.

The Center for HOPE (Healing Our Painful Emotions) was co- founded by Doug and Mary Lyall, to assist families who have experienced the heartaches and challenges of having a loved one that is missing. The Lyalls’ daughter, Suzanne, has been missing since March 2, 1998.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) and website (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.

The Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse was established within DCJS in 1987. MECC provides investigative support services for law enforcement, assistance to left-behind family members and community education programs. It also operates the 1-800-FIND-KID hotline (1-800-346-3543), where information about missing children and leads can be reported 24/7.



Contact: John Caher, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8415 or (518) 225-5240 – cell