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November 2003

Click here for a 10-year reflection

 To anyone, especially a parent, who is
going through the agony of a missing child:

Shortly after Mark vanished in Nov. of 1991, I had an opportunity to meet with John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. At the time of our meeting, he charged me with two responsibilities: 1."Take care of your health. You'll need all the strength you can conjure up to find your son and to make sure he comes home to a healthy daddy"; and,  2. "You keep your son's face and situation in the public eye at all times, no matter what it takes."

Heeding John's advice, I essentially became an advertising agent for my son. Albeit, maintaining my health with all the stress-related issues was not easy.

To all victim parents I offer the following advice: At the TOP of the list - Whenever anyone does anything for you in the way of publicizing your child's story or likeness, take the time to thank them personally by letter. This simple gesture pays off enormously!

Second - Establish a relationship with all the media, and never, repeat never, criticize if things don't go your way in the (amount of) news or how it's handled or reported.

And last, but of no less importance - Allow law enforcement agents to do their job without interference. They'll have enough to do as you create leads/sightings by distributing posters across the country.  Only you can be relied upon to generate the news - to keep the story of you and your child's plight alive. Stay focused!

Regarding posters:  The likelihood of recovering a missing child via a poster is slim, at best.  However, distributing these flyers gives volunteers a way of contributing to the recovery effort.  Plus, it is reassuring to the family to see their child's picture everywhere.  I have always encouraged the use of posters because I believe they serve as a deterrent to the crime of abduction - when a parent sees such a poster, (s)he becomes cognizant of the whereabouts of their own child(ren).  Or, they can use the poster as a teaching-tool to show their child what can happen to them if they stray off.

I've told victim families on numerous occasions not to waste their time or energy with psychics - they will bring about a roller-coaster of emotions in a search. (By the way, no psychic ever asked our family for money when they offered help.) However, I do not advise turning them away either since it means another set of eyes looking for your child.  Just don't give credence to anything offered by a psychic. This comes from personal experience and is the typical response from thousands of other parents and law enforcement agents. (Note - There has never been a documented case where a psychic has located a missing person.)

Although my son has never been found (no clues, no suspects, no resulting leads), in retrospect, I can say I believe everything was, has been, and is being done to locate him. I cannot say enough about the dedication of the investigators.

It's been 12 years now and I still receive an occasional call from a reporter who's checking to see how I'm doing - if there's anything new - or just to see if there's something I might want to say.  Actually, you've just read my usual response.

Jody, Mark's dad
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