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CNN Larry King Live
Missing for Years
Aired November 25, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, when people go missing for years, their families never stop searching, though the public may move on and authorities may even label the case cold.
Now, meet Monica Caison, on a mission to keep hope alive for people like Kara Roberts whose 23-year-old sister went missing in Washington State five years ago; and, Kenya Skidmore, her 23-year-old sister was last seen a year ago in Indianapolis.
And then there's Penny Carr Britton, Monica Caison's searcher found her murdered daughter's body seven months after she was carjacked. For that closure she calls Monica an angel. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with Monica Caison here with us in Los Angeles. "People" magazine, by the way, has described Monica, the North Carolina mother of five, as one of the nation's foremost citizen sleuths. Monica launched this non-profit community united effort called CUE for Missing Persons in 1994, why?
MONICA CAISON: FOUNDED COMMUNITY UNITED EFFORT FOR MISSING PERSONS IN 1994: To be a liaison for families to help the people that suffer behind the scenes and just to basically help bring loved ones home.
KING: Why you, Monica, what happened to you?
CAISON: There was just -- there were several reasons why, three reasons in particular. I've been exposed to other families that have suffered a missing person at different highlights in my life and it just touched me. And, by the time I was a teenager I knew that I wanted to help these families.
I'm originally from Florida and that was one of the largest cases of a missing girl, got missing down there. She's still today has not been found. And it just -- it compelled me to get into this field. Actually it started then.
KING: The National Crime Information Center, as of July 1st of this year, reports 105,978 active missing persons, nearly 58,000 are juvenile, about 48,000 are adult.
KING: Why do you think? CAISON: I don't know. Everybody asks me all the time is it happening more nowadays than it did years ago and I said, no, it's the media that has brought it more to light.
KING: And you get involved how? Tell me how CUE works. What do you do? OK, someone -- what do you do?
CAISON: Well, someone gets missing. Immediately we're called in sometime by law enforcement, sometime by family, sometime by the media and we are called in. As long as there's an official police report made we can become active.
We immediately go in an assess the situation, what's going on, what's been done, what needs to be done and then we get a goal plan and we work with law enforcement and other agencies and all that are concerned in that particular case to identify the needs and try to accomplish that.
KING: Who is the we?
CAISON: We are me and thousands of volunteers.
KING: All over the country.
CAISON: All over the country, search teams, people just like myself, professionals, retired law enforcement, retired marshals, you name it we've got it.
KING: Let's get Kara Roberts' story and we'll show you a clip. Kara's 23-year-old sister Leah went missing in Washington State in March of 2000. First watch this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These majestic mountains are keeping a secret. Only they know what really happened to a beautiful young woman from the triangle, Leah Roberts. Leah vanished in the Mt. Baker National Park about an hour's drive east of Bellingham, Washington.
From their homes in Durham, Leah's brother and sister have been doing their own detective work trying to figure out why just two months from graduating at NC State Leah decided to leave on a secretive cross-country road trip.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Why do you think she went to Washington?
KARA ROBERTS, 23-YEAR-OLD SISTER LEAH ROBERTS MISSING SINCE 2000: We lost both of our parents. Leah was a young woman who was lost.
KING: Lost in an accident?
ROBERTS: They passed away.
KING: Close to each other? ROBERTS: Yes. You know by the time Leah was 22 she had lost both of her parents and here she is on the verge of graduating from college and I think she just really felt lost and didn't have a lot of direction and I feel like she took this trip as a soul-searching trip.
KING: Did she talk to you before taking it?
ROBERTS: Leah did not tell anyone about her trip before she left.
KING: Go by herself?
KING: Are you sure of that?
ROBERTS: All indications are that she was by herself.
KING: Take her own car?
KING: What did you read into it at first? You think she drove away because she was an orphan?
ROBERTS: Yes, to some extent. I think she just needed to go and get away to clear her mind.
KING: Had she graduated?
ROBERTS: She had not. She was about a semester away from graduation.
KING: Now what did they do about this in the State of Washington, Monica?
CAISON: Well, there's a wonderful detective there on that particular case. He has done everything. He notified the media. They had some searches. When Leah got missing it was in March, the April (INAUDIBLE) so snow was soon coming that way.
And he conducted quite a few searches. He has been more than willing to keep in communication with us. When we went up there we went up to Mt. Baker, saw where her vehicle had wrecked off the side of the mountain and he also took us to the lab that her vehicle still sits.
You know, he's just been very helpful but we've -- we've done all that we can and we just need some tips on a national level. Somebody saw something and that's where we're at.
KING: You knew she was in Washington because of the car.
ROBERTS: Yes, well...
KING: After that you didn't know where she was. ROBERTS: We were able to trace her route out west through her debit card transactions. She made it cross country in three and a half days and out to Washington State.
KING: Took her own car from North Carolina?
KING: And the car was found where and in what condition?
ROBERTS: It was found wrecked and abandoned. It had flipped end over end over an embankment off a remote logging trail in the national forest.
KING: The first to do I guess was look for a body right?
KING: Found nothing?
ROBERTS: No. No signs of foul play, no nothing. All of her belongings were in the car, $2,500 in cash, my mother's engagement ring which had sentimental value to my sister, her guitar, passport, credit card, driver's license, everything.
KING: So it wasn't robbery.
KING: What's the detective's reading?
CAISON: Well there's a 50/50 chance that Leah was injured in the vehicle accident or was in the vehicle and injured and that she maybe has amnesia or had some kind of internal injuries and actually walked out of there. She could have been abducted as she walked out of there or that she ran into foul play and they staged it.
KING: Or amnesia and wandered off.
KING: Head injury.
CAISON: Leah is one of the cases that has 50/50 and I do...
KING: Might be alive.
CAISON: Absolutely, 100 percent. You know with the 50 percent I believe that there is a large possibility that she's alive wandering around really not knowing who she might be. And then there's also the reality, you know, that we're looking for her.
KING: What does the detective think?
CAISON: Same scenario.
KING: We'll be showing her picture again. And, if someone spots it, thinks they know this girl or what might have happened it's 910- 232-1687.
Penny Carr Britton will join us from Toledo, Ohio next. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Before we talk with Penny Carr Britton, Kara it's been five years. How much hope do you have?
ROBERTS: You know some days it's harder than others but I have to hang on to the hope and we have to find Leah and there are -- there's answers out there and someone knows what happened to her.
KING: You want closure of some kind on it.
ROBERTS: Closure of some sort.
KING: Penny Carr Britton is next. She's in Toledo, Ohio. Again, Monica has been involved in all of these matters right?
KING: Let's watch this clip of the story of Penny's 32-year-old daughter Peggy. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was last seen April 22nd. The police have searched in Wilmington and Columbus County only to find her Geo Tracker, weeks later still no sign of Carr. Family and friends have not given up.
Seventeen thousand flyers have been distributed and these tee shirts will soon be handed out. Plus, this Web site has also been set up to help find Carr. Monica Caison has been organizing the search and she says they are now hoping for some national exposure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did you get much national exposure?
CAISON: No because of the type of cases that we have are low profile cases. There is not a twist. There is not an angle and we fight for that every day.
KING: You don't have Aruba.
KING: Penny, what happened to Peggy?
PENNY CARR BRITTON, 32-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER PEGGY CARJACKED, MURDERED IN 1998: Well, what I knew was she had a day off and she was running errands and she didn't come home that evening and her fiance called me the next day to tell me that.
And I thought maybe she was coming back to Toledo for her sister's first wedding anniversary and Thursday evening when she wasn't there, we kind of suspected something was wrong and flew to Wilmington and arrived there Friday afternoon.
And when I walked into Peggy's home, I knew immediately something was wrong. My heart just told me something was wrong. And I turned around and Monica Caison was already there with missing persons posters ready to go and flyers and she just put us on a whirlwind track to try to figure out what had happened to Peggy.
And I looked her square in the eye and told her I just know my daughter did not run away from life which is what the authorities had started to tell me because she was 32, you know. It just added up that she ran away from life.
KING: Did she have a family?
BRITTON: So I was -- no, Peggy was just engaged to be married. Her family was here, meaning myself, her sister and her brother and an uncle. She had no one in Wilmington other than her fiance and the friends she had made. She had just lived there for two years and so I just...
KING: What eventually happened?
BRITTON: Eventually about mid-July we had found out that she was part of a crime spree that two men had carjacked her on April 22nd at three o'clock in the afternoon. They wanted her car to rob a pawn shop.
And they went on to murder another girl and went on to rape and mutilate another girl of which they were caught, the one was. And I guess they gave him a phone and tapped a phone and he began spilling his story and then at that point they knew what happened to Peggy. It was all tied in together.
KING: What happened to her?
BRITTON: So at that point -- she was strangled and stabbed, murdered and just left. They didn't know her name. They took her car, never used the car to rob the pawn shop and just left her.
And it happened that they were on private property so we never found her and it took us seven long months of searching to find her. And, Monica put those searches together and just knew what to do to help us keep her story alive. And, finally, November 18th of that year her body was found.
KING: Private property...
BRITTON: But it was only...
KING: Hold it one second, private property, Monica?
KING: And nobody could find it?
CAISON: Well, it was a very rural area.
KING: How about the (INAUDIBLE)?
CAISON: And it was an old abandoned type of farmland that the woman was elderly and the son or uncle, what have you, would come from time to time and mow it and that type of thing and plant crops. So, it wasn't a path that anyone would travel down on daily. It was basically you would go on a tractor to go there and do cropping.
KING: Penny, the perpetrators are in jail?
BRITTON: One of the perpetrators are in jail, Larry. The other perpetrator attempted to escape and was shot by the prison guards before Peggy and the other girls' murder trials were set.
He was in jail for 76 years for the rape and mutilation of another girl. So, he is no longer alive and the one gentleman is still in jail and should have another eleven years.
See here we're allowed to plea bargain where in Aruba that doesn't take place and we plea bargained with the accomplice to lead us in some kind of direction where Peggy was.
KING: So, he got lesser time.
BRITTON: And that was -- right and he got eight years was all for what he did to my daughter and four years for another case and then had to make up his prison time because he broke probation. But it was the turning point of finding my daughter.
KING: All right. He got a very light sentence for what he did because it was...
KING: ...so important for you to find her?
BRITTON: Right but, Larry, when we started plea bargaining, North Carolina is a capital punishment state and I thought we were actually going to plea bargain for not a death penalty and a life sentence. And, it was negotiated down to eight years and we were told that's what the negotiation was.
KING: Were you upset?
BRITTON: Certainly I was upset. I was actually appalled that eight years would be all that he would get for watching my daughter be murdered, for handing him the murder weapon but that's how it went.
KING: Did police continue to think that Peggy ran off?
BRITTON: Yes, they did. It was a daily battle on my part and that's what led me to move to Wilmington and give up my work here for that period of time because I felt if I left her case would be put on the back burner and they would not do anything because they really felt she had run away from life.
She had colored her hair the morning she left to run her errands and with that knowledge they were convinced that she had dyed her hair and had run off to Florida and was on a beach in a bikini is what they police told me.
KING: Is that common, Monica, to think...
BRITTON: And, Monica...
KING: ...that if someone is 32 years old?
KING: She's not a 17-year-old.
CAISON: Yes, it is. Most time when adults get missing the first thing everyone wants to say, including law enforcement, is that well they've probably taken off. Give it a couple days. Let them call.
But now more and more that people are being put into NCIC, which is important, and adults are getting in there so that way if a vehicle is found or some other kind of information comes about, you know law enforcement in that area is notified.
KING: Did you suspect foul play?
CAISON: Absolutely, I did.
KING: We'll get a break and then we'll meet Kendra Skidmore. And then all of our panelists and Monica will remain with us for the balance of the show and we'll talk with all three about the growing problem of missing persons in America. Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now from Salt Lake City, Utah is Kendra Skidmore. Kendra's 23-year-old sister, Molly Dattilo, was last seen the evening of July 6, 2004 in Indianapolis. Let's watch a clip about Molly and then we'll talk with Kendra. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Friends, family, even strangers gathered at the Wayne Township Fire Department to step up the search for missing IUPUI student Molly Dattilo. The 23-year-old was last seen leaving her West Side apartment and walking to this Wendy's to fill out a job application.
So, teams divided into four groups, combing through a two-mile radius searching for any clue of what might have happened. While the Marion County Sheriff's Department maintains they do not suspect foul play, the family doesn't believe she left on her own free will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, Kendra, you live in Salt Lake.
KENDRA SKIDMORE, 23-YEAR-OLD SISTER MOLLY DATTILO MISSING SINCE JULY, 2004: I do. I do.
KING: What do you believe happened to your sister?
SKIDMORE: I believe that she was lured away somehow and taken. I do believe that foul play has occurred.
KING: Yet you would hope that she ran away right?
SKIDMORE: Well, I hope that there's -- you know there's always that possibility that she could be out there under someone's control but that's the only way that I see it happening. Molly had no reason to run away. She was just going about life as usual. She was trying to get a job, a summer job there in Indianapolis.
She was -- she had a goal to try out for "American Idol" in August and she was taking classes at IUPUI, all music classes in preparation for her goal and she always followed through with her goal.
She had job applications found in her car, which was found left at the apartment. Everything, all the evidence left behind, you know, simply shows that she had no intention of going anywhere.
KING: IUPUI is what?
SKIDMORE: Indiana University Perdue University at Indianapolis. She actually was attending -- she had finished up the semester at Eastern Kentucky University and decided that for the summer she was going to stay with her brother there in Indianapolis and decided to take those music classes, like I said, in preparation for her "American Idol" goal.
KING: Monica, how did you get involved?
CAISON: I had gotten an e-mail from another organization, asked would I put a link on our Web site and then within a month or so I had gotten an e-mail that was begging for our help from Kendra and we've been involved ever since.
KING: Now, the police she says in Indianapolis believe it's a runaway right, is that what they believe?
CAISON: I do think that they -- I do think that they go that way yes.
CAISON: Because I don't know. I think...
SKIDMORE: Well, initially -- initially they kept saying runaway, runaway and we in frustration met with the detectives and they...
SKIDMORE: ...you know later -- later they, you know, stepped up and put a different investigator on the case.
SKIDMORE: Now, Monica has been a terrific support. I'm so glad I came in contact with her. She's done so many things, countless things to help in our search. She's always there when I'm having a tough day.
She, you know, always helping to put out press releases to keep her story going there in Indiana, always has terrific ideas to keep her story going, has helped with our tip line. She's just always -- always there.
KING: Do you still have a lot of hope Kendra?
SKIDMORE: You know after -- after this much time for me it is difficult to maintain hope that she's out there somewhere. I think I just -- I really want a sense of closure. I think you've heard that from, you know, Kara Roberts and it is very important.
It's something that, you know, it's a complete life-changing event when you have a missing person in your family and it changes everything and it changes, you know, how you view the world and changes your relationships. It's harder to maintain your relationships when all you want to do is bring, you know, we just want Molly brought home.
KING: Are your parents living?
SKIDMORE: They are. They are.
KING: How are they dealing with this?
SKIDMORE: You know, just the best that they can. I mean you can't -- you have to deal with it. You have no other choice and sometimes, you know, mom and dad, you know, I think dad probably gets a little bit angry.
I think, you know, granted the situation there's, you know, and then there's sadness too, you know, angry that someone could just take someone and do whatever they please with them like we suspect has happened.
KING: Is there a general concept among the police with so many things going on and the work they have to do to put this back burner, Monica?
CAISON: I think the police try as hard as they can in every case. I don't think that any case is on the back burner. I think it's just that they -- they don't have a place to go. Law enforcement are trained for investigation but a missing person you're left nothing.
You have basically a person who has disappeared and unless there's a crime scene behind, like a vehicle with blood in it or struggle inside the house, there's nothing to investigate.
KING: So there's no fingerprints to test for.
CAISON: Right. They classify it as a missing person. I today cannot find out what that means. Does it mean you're doing anything? Does it mean you're just waiting for information to develop? What does that mean if you're just a missing person?
KING: In your case, Kara, what do they tell you about it? Do they work on your sister every day?
ROBERTS: I don't -- I don't know that it would be possible for them to work on her case every day. They get leads. They follow up on them. And they -- they work on our case when they can. But, you know, really at this point they've exhausted most of their -- most of their leads and, you know, we're really just dependent upon someone who knows something to come forward.
KING: And, Penny, if they had not caught these guys in other matters, they might have never solved your case right?
BRITTON: They never would have, Larry. She never would have been found. It was -- for a crime I don't know how well it was planned, it certainly was carried off with ease and we never, ever would have found it, found her, found out what happened.
KING: Do you bear any animosity toward law enforcement?
BRITTON: No. I think I did at the beginning because they wouldn't listen to the family and I've heard Monica say any mother that can stare me square in the face and tell me that her daughter would not run away or the family member would not run away I believe them.
And, thank God I had her and when they found Peggy's car five days later, I mean the car was paid for. If she would have run away, she would have sold the car for the money but that didn't seem to make any difference to law enforcement.
But after a couple of weeks I found some solitude where the State Bureau of Investigation believed my story so then I felt better. I mean you just feel, you're in a strange place and you're just going crazy because you can't convince anyone of anything.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. I'll reintroduce the entire panel and lots more to discuss on this topic. Don't go away.
KING: The subject tonight is missing person. The Web site, if you want more information is www.ncmissingpersons.org. The phone numbers for information, if you want to -- someone missing in your family, 910-343-1131. If you have a top on any of the people we've shown tonight, and we'll show them again, 910-232-1687.
Our guests are, in Los Angeles, Monica Caison. "People Magazine" describes her as the North Carolina mother of five, and one of the nation's foremost citizen sleuths. She launched the non-profit community united effort, CUE, for missing persons, 11 years ago.
Kara Roberts, her 23-year-old sister Leah Roberts went missing on a cross-country trip. She went missing in the state of Washington in March of 2000.
In Toledo, Ohio, is Penny Carr Britton. Her 32-year-old, Peggy Carr, was car jacked and murdered in Wilmington, North Carolina, in April of 1998. The case became a landmark effort for CUE. The group spearheaded a massive search effort for Peggy.
And in Salt Lake City is Kendra Skidmore. Kendra's 23-year-old sister Molly Dattilo was last seen the evening of July 6, 2004, in Indianapolis. Kendra, do you have any thoughts to what we might do -- I mean, what can you do with this kind of mystery, if someone takes someone?
SKIDMORE: You know, I feel like I'm doing everything that I can do. On the anniversary of her disappearance, you know, just a few weeks ago in July, they had a 24-hour prayer vigil. We're fortunate to get local press on all four Indianapolis stations, which she does receive regular local press now.
Initially, we had to really press for that, because we weren't getting it. But, you know, we try to do things to keep the story alive. You know, for the most part, not only from Indianapolis, but Louisville and Lexington stations, we received some nice local coverage.
You know, you always wish it were more, but you take what you can get and you appreciate all those that, you know, help in any way, shape or form to, you know, give their resources, their time to help. Our hometown newspaper has been very supportive. Our hometown community, Madison, Indiana, as a whole, has been terrific.
I've had a couple of cousins of mine that have really kept me going. There's times when you just feel like you can't handle another day. And people like Monica and family and friends that keep you going and keep the search going.
The police say that they are still currently working on the case. It's still an active case. I do believe they're working. They say that there's a person of interest, although, they offer very little information. It's very limited in what they'll say. They claim they're protecting, you know, the case, which is extremely frustrating at times.
But, you know, I have to try to understand. I do believe that they're working and I do appreciate the help that they do give. I just -- sometimes you wish you knew more so you know what's happening. So you know for a fact that they're working.
KING: Kara, do you keep -- do you keep any hope alive?
ROBERTS: We're just trying to, you know, keep Leah's face out there as much as possible. The anniversary, fourth anniversary of her disappearance, Monica did a cross-country trip tracing's Leah's route out of Washington state, and she also featured 30 other cold cases. And you know, just trying to promote these people. I'm hopeful we'll find Leah one day.
KING: Where does your drive come from, Monica?
CAISON: The families, knowing that many people -- I mean, we are their only hope. I get e-mails all the time, phone calls. My family is telling me that they love us, that we're their only hope. I hate being someone's only hope.
So, that drives me to end that case so they can get refocused and grounded back in their own life. I mean, some of these people have gone years and years and years and never got more than a four-inch column in a local newspaper, without a photo of the missing person. And it's just, it's ludicrous.
KING: They're missing and lost, right?
CAISON: They're missing and lost, but majority of the cases that we work are serious cases. It's the mother who went to the store to get a gallon of milk and we find her car with blood. It's the girl who ran away, was abducted and found in a well. It's things like that. We don't get the typical, "I'm mad at my wife. I took the kids for two days." We don't get those type of cases.
KING: We'll take a break, when we come back, we'll ask Penny's thoughts on what might be done, and then we'll ask Monica about some other cases, that people are not here to discuss them. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yolanda Bindics, this smiling mother of four vanished without a trace the night of August 10, 2004, after leaving work at the Jamestown Family Dollar. The next day, her car was found nearby at Arby's, leading police to believe she was probably taken by someone she knew, yet there were no clues. About a month later, in September, her purse and car keys washed up from a city storm drain, but that was it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And now, there are other missing persons you wanted to discuss. Yolanda Bindics, a 25-year-old mother of four young girls. Last seen August 10 of last year, leaving work in Jamestown.
What fascinates you about this case?
CAISON: Well, it's not a fascination. I got the call for help. She can't get any kind of media attention. She was locking up the store. She was a manager in a management position. She was locking up the store, last time she's been seen. You know, she's got four young children. They need their mother home and she can't get any more than local news coverage.
KING: Does she have a husband?
KING: Now authorities in that case, according to my notes, have described several menace persons of interest. What do they do with that? What does that mean?
CAISON: Persons of interest just means...
KING: Sounds like Aruba.
CAISON: ... that there's some of the -- maybe. Some of the dots are connecting, but not all the way, so they won't disclose any more than that. But some cases don't even have that.
KING: Well eventually, don't you run into the immovable object, you can't go any further?
CAISON: No. There's always something else you can do to continue forward to help find that person. I believe everyone deserves to be found and there's always a way to find them. It's just sometimes it takes longer than others.
KING: This one, Yolanda Bindics, this has been since August 10 of last year. There's a $21,000 reward. Are you hopeful here?
CAISON: Absolutely. Yolanda has, like I said, no one knows she's missing. You can't get tips. You can't solve a case if nobody in the community knows this person is missing. All these people need -- they're low-profile cases, they need national coverage.
KING: Have you found a lot of people?
CAISON: Absolutely. Absolutely.
KING: And what's -- finding them in any kind of circumstance?
CAISON: Dead, alive, injured, homeless, in the woods, wandering around, delirious, forgot who they were, you name it.
KING: Kept a prisoner, like the young girl in Utah? Anything like that? Abducted?
CAISON: Oh, yes. The majority of our cases are abductions, absolutely, but not like Utah.
KING: How about the father who abducts the teenage son in the divorce matter? Is that a missing person to you?
CAISON: They're all missing people. If they -- like, I said, if they have an official police report, we will take the case and we work it as information comes in.
KING: Penny Carr Britton, do you have any thoughts on this whole matter of people gone missing? What to do about it?
BRITTON: Well, we were fortunate, Larry, with Peggy being in Monica's hometown, I believe, because our story was kept alive a lot on local TV in Wilmington and in Toledo, which, in my mind, really helps the case.
Anything new that would come up, it would be put in the newspaper, put on the television, which, you know, that is your goal, to try to keep the story going, so more searches would be held.
It's just heartbreaking for families to go through this. So, you know there are other cases that the police department has to do. That's why, I guess, Monica and her organization really fill in the blanks that a family needs to keep their hope up.
I don't know, Larry, what any answer is, only that there's such a void in a family when someone goes missing, that there really needs to be a guardian angel, and Monica happens to be that.
KING: Is more attention paid, Monica, when it's a child?
CAISON: Yes. Children under 12. When they get teenagers, they claim them to be a runaway right off the bat. When they're an adult female, they've maybe ran off, they're unsure of their life. An adult male, mid-life crisis. Elderly people, they're just missing from a home. There are hundreds of missing people in every town, every month. And you never hear about them. You know, there are certain ones that are pick and chosen.
KING: What if they're under 10, or nine? That focuses, doesn't it?
CAISON: Under 12, with the guidelines that that's the danger. You're separated from your parent, you need an adult supervision. When you're 13 and up, you're starting to walk into teenage hood. So, it's taken very seriously.
I think each case has to be taken individually. You walk in, you evaluate it and say, "OK, what's going here?" If there's any kind of danger zones that should be treated as such? Pretty much, families will give you that indication right off the bat. They'll let you know what they think, if they think the child has run away or if the child is lost or possibly abducted, what have you. KING: We'll take a break, ask about Kent Jacobs, when we get back. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Tell me, Monica, about Kent Jacobs, a 42- year-old man, mentally impaired, requiring medication, missing since March 2002.
CAISON: Kent basically was getting ready to come into his birthday. His mother had went to church that morning. He woke up with a promise they were going to go visit another relative that day. And she came back, Kent was gone. There has literally been no information that has been solid enough to bring us to a location of Kent and/or his body.
There's been rumors, there's been things that people have said. There's been numerous tips and law enforcement have worked them endlessly. His sister, Jackie Jacobs, she started a foundation. She's taken up his campaign to join our center and many others to find missing people. To date, we've had nothing solid. We've even done searches.
KING: The fact he's mentally impaired, might that lead you down a separate road?
CAISON: It makes it harder because one, he's a male. Two, he's middle-aged and three, he's mentally challenged. He could be anywhere. He could have gotten in a semi-truck and took off, and without his medication, not know who he is. He could have gotten in a car with someone promising him to take him to a store and he would have believed it. I mean, it's another case like...
KING: That could be anything?
CAISON: ... absolutely, he'll believe whatever he's told.
KING: And what about 28-year-old Mary Mount, missing since January 4th or 5th of 2004, in Ft. Myers?
CAISON: Yes. They contacted us when we were just down in Florida three weeks ago, when we recovered Anna Maria Randazzo. She was a 17-year-old.
KING: That was a famous case.
CAISON: Yes. We took it to national media and got her a lot of attention. The case was solved inside of a couple of weeks.
KING: She was found where?
CAISON: She was found beaten and brutally murdered and put in a freezer out in the middle of woods in Lehigh Acres, Florida, and she was burned.
KING: Did they find the...? CAISON: ... they do, they do have two people in custody.
KING: Have you ever had to be the one to tell someone that their missing person is dead?
CAISON: Yes. The first time I did my first notification was in '99, 1999. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
CAISON: You feel rewarded when you can bring their person home, but it's hard when you're the one that has to tell them.
KING: Kendra, do you think a national database would work?
SKIDMORE: Did you say my name? I'm sorry.
KING: Yes. A national database, like where all of them could be printed out, computers everywhere, we know every missing person would show up on every police department.
SKIDMORE: I thought that was already in effect with the NCIC, but do they both? Do they pay any attention to it? Do they really look at the information they're given?
KING: Is it in effect?
CAISON: No, it isn't. NCIS is for criminals, missing persons, everything. If law enforcement find a vehicle, it's burglaries, what have you. We do. We need a national repository for all these cases.
KING: I'm shocked we don't have one.
CAISON: The cases that I have, other centers won't have. The cases they have, I won't have. It's ludicrous. Even the National Center for Missing Children and the National Center for Missing Adults does not house all the cases.
KING: By the way, CUE is dependent on donations, right?
CAISON: Absolutely. We're 100 percent donation-driven and volunteer-run. We have no paid employees.
KING: If you'd like to help, www.ncmissingpersons.org or 910- 343-1131. Tips on anyone missing that you see here tonight, 910-232- 1687.
Back with some more after this.
KING: We're back. Kara, you think rewards help?
ROBERTS: I don't know. I mean, in our case, I don't really think it's made a difference. You know, Leah's award is $10,000. There's other awards that are set at a million dollars, and the same result in both cases.
KING: What do you think, Penny?
BRITTON: The reward didn't help in my daughter's case. However, the man that found my daughter, we gave him half of the reward. We were so thankful for that, but it really didn't do much.
KING: Kendra, do you think they help?
SKIDMORE: No. We've had an anonymous donor offer $100,000 reward and it's for location of Molly and the arrest and conviction. We have received tips from it. I think it's -- you know, I think it's helping. We have billboards up in Indiana for Molly.
I think -- I know especially the anniversary of her disappearance, investigators said she was getting calls and I know that Monica, who also takes tips, was getting calls.
So, you know, I think they have some effect for some cases. So far, though, I mean, there hasn't really been a break in the case.
KING: Do you get false leads, Monica?
CAISON: Oh, yes, all the time.
KING: Tons of them?
CAISON: Yes, and you have to weed them out. But if you don't follow them through, you'll never know if it's a false lead.
KING: Are you a cancer survivor?
KING: What kind?
CAISON: I had an ovarian cyst and then I had, also, thyroid cancer.
KING: Ovarian can be deadly.
CAISON: Absolutely. My grandmother passed at 32.
KING: And that didn't slow you down from doing what you do?
CAISON: No, I had to take some time off, I was sick for a while. I have a very supportive family, very large family. I'm one out of 11 children. I have a lot of cousins, nieces and nephews and our family, you know, we're a close family. We come through when we're needed.
KING: Amazing woman, isn't she, Kara?
ROBERTS: Yes she is. I really don't know how I would have made it through the past five years without her.
KING: I'll bet. Penny, I bet she was amazing for you. BRITTON: Oh, she was. For seven full months, I walked with her every day, and they broke the mold when they made her.
KING: Kendra, I bet you feel the same way.
SKIDMORE: Oh, definitely. She's a terrific friend as well as, you know, a terrific advocate. She never fails to make me laugh or cheer me up when I'm having that bad, emotional day.
KING: Thank you, Kendra. Thank you Kendra Skidmore, Penny Carr Britton, and Kara Roberts. And Monica, I salute you.
CAISON: Well, thank you.
KING: And for more information, it's www.ncmissingpersons.org. Phone number is 910-343-1131. And for tips, 910-232-1687.
We thank all of our guests and hope we've added some to your knowledge of this pressing and often overlooked problem. Good night.
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