By Sean Cruz
Every now and then a child is abducted somewhere in Oregon, and some weeks or months later, I receive a phone call from the child’s parent….
Their story is always the same: It has been weeks or months since they last knew the location of their child…the child disappeared with the other parent, who has fled the state…they’ve been to the police…they’ve been to the courts…they cannot find anyone in the system who is willing to help…the media doesn’t see a reason to get involved…and yet their child is still missing….
They contact me because they have been searching for help on line, and their search has led them to Aaron’s Law, Oregon’s landmark 2005 anti-kidnapping statute, named for my late son Aaron Cruz, and to my blogs, and they’ve read about the law, and they are calling me because they are desperate for advice….
Most don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, much less the resources to hire a private investigator to go out and find their abducted child, and they are mostly men, men who are trying to keep their lives steady while facing the reality, the horror, that they may never see their child again….
Some, like the most recent case, a father who called me a week ago from southern Oregon whose 3-year-old daughter went missing in July, have been told by local law enforcement that their missing child does not “meet the criteria” for any actual action by law enforcement, including adding their missing child to the State Police list of missing Oregon children, or notifying law enforcement in other jurisdictions of the missing child…and yet there is a child who is missing….
The phrase “does not meet the criteria” struck me when I took the call, because I was already planning to write about the subject, which came up during a press conference on the Kyron Horman abduction on July 23, when Washington County Sheriff Dan Staton responded to a series of question, including this one:
Q: How many other children are considered missing/endangered in Multnomah County at this time, aside from Kyron?
“There are no other cases that meet this criteria,” he said.
The Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse maintains a list of abducted or otherwise missing children, which stands currently at 41 children.
More than half of these children have been missing for decades, and the only child that has “met the criteria” to make the list in the past three years is Kyron Horman….
The Oregon State Police website has a “spotlight” featuring five of these missing children, with Kyron’s name at the top of the list:
Samuel Boehlke has been missing for just over four years.
Jeremy Bright has been missing since 1986.
Karla Coronado has been missing for more than six years.
Carlos Cortez-Leon has been missing for eight years and two weeks.
At the bottom of the Spotlight feature is a link labeled “Click here to see all of Oregon’s missing children” that takes you to the page where 41 children are identified, where 40 of those children are the same children, year after year, where the Oregon State Police declares that these are all of the missing children, there are none other to be worried about….
But that list does not come close to identifying “all” of Oregon’s missing children, and it never has…it contains only the names of those children who have “met the criteria”….
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a list of missing Oregon children, but it is a different list....
At the same time, law enforcement is aware that Oregon has its proportional share of parentally and family-abducted children, a number that the US Department of Justice calculates at more than 200,000 children a year, nationwide; you can do the math….
The fact is that no one has a list of all of Oregon’s missing and abducted children, no one…. No law enforcement agency in the state is required to keep or maintain a list, and so no list of missing children exists….
Only the list that “meets the criteria”….
End part 1