Photo taken by Carrie Elgbrett http://www.carrieeigbrettphotography.com/
Speaking at this conference was a life-changing event for me. Since Kathy’s murder I have never been around a group of people such as this. That’s saying something since it’s been over forty years since someone brutally took her life. Looking into the eyes of more than three hundred faces reflected the power of unity.
In attendance were law enforcement officers, search and rescue teams with their faithful dogs, Community United Effort (CUE) leaders, CUE volunteers and Guardian Angels of the streets. They dedicate their time to find, rescue and recover loved ones because they know what it’s like to drown in the pain of the unknown. While seeking answers about their missing or murdered they are willing to open their hearts and extend their hands to walk with another on the dark path that is familiar.
At first I felt like an outsider. It was obvious that relationships had been formed from previous years. But it wasn’t long before I had a strong connection to a group of people I’d never met before. A closer connection than some relationships I’ve had for years. When your eyes meet with another’s that’s experienced the pain of murder or have someone missing time isn’t needed to form a bond.
The conference was educational. I’m still trying to process. Some information was dark and covered the evil in the underground world. There is no doubt the depravity of man is alive and kicking. Thank goodness we have warriors willing to battle in the muck of it all.
The topics addressed were Forced Labor Around the Globe, Social media and law, Crime Scene Preservation, “Throwaway” People Become Cold Cases, Statement Analysis as an Investigative Tool, What’s Race Got to Do With It? My Child is Missing!, The Curious Allure of Serial Killers and The Unsolved Not Forgotten.
The weekend encompassed a mixture of emotions. Empathy, sorrow and grief emerged along with courage, hope and pride. Disgust, anger and frustration sometimes sat next to eagerness, amazement and triumph. Each day I hit the pillow exhausted but filled with admiration for Monica Caison the founder of CUE and her volunteers.
It was an honor to meet all involved with the 10th Annual National Missing Persons Conference. I definitely received more than I gave.
CUE’s Oath “I offer myself to those who have nowhere else to turn. These desperate people who ask for my help have unique situations. Yet, however unique, they are bound together with the commonality of being the loved one of a missing person.” Monica Caison http://www.ncmissingpersons.org