Missing in Charlottesville

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

May 25, 2006

High profile missing children's cases often become national headlines but what about kids missing from our backyard.

On National Missing Children's Day, here is a look at those missing in our area.

Most kids missing close to home are runaways but still local authorities do everything they can to find these kids and make sure they're safe. Let's take a look at some of their faces.

Jessica Richardson has been missing from Charlottesville since November 2005. Heather ward of Greene County hasn't been seen since February. Deshawn Harper of Charlottesville also gone since February and Craig Deane has been missing since October, 2005. All are listed with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as runaways.

“There are many kids on the street that are not safe,” said Jackie Bryant, Executive Director, Children, Youth & Family Services.

The Runaway Emergency Services Program helps over 300 kids each year and local law enforcement report more than 200 runaways annually.

Quinn Woodfolk of Charlottesville disappeared on July 4, 1998. He was 11 then. Authorities created a picture of what they think he looks like today. The search for Quinn extended from Virginia to New York and out to Georgia. Police said he may have gotten mixed up with a bad group but they haven't given up on finding him.

“If the police haven't found a kid in Charlottesville in three or four days, it generally means they are not in town,” said Baron Roller, RESP Counselor.

Locally most missing children are runaways, law enforcement said they very rarely if ever see a case of an abduction or kidnapping. But if that were to happen, they stand prepared.

“We get [calls for] missing juveniles all the time--[those kids] actually just run away, but true people that are abducted, that's something rare and everyone gets on that immediately with all the resources we have,” said Charlottesville Police Lt. Gary Pleasants.

The runaway emergency services program suggests parents talk to their kids and that they listen. They have a 24 hour hotline for parents and kids 434-972-SAFE.

On May 25, 1979, Etan Patz disappeared from a New York City street on his way to school and was never found. Missing Children's Day was founded in honor of him.

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