MOUNT VERNON — As the search is ongoing in the missing persons case of Tina Herrmann, Kody Maynard and Stephanie Sprang, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office has been getting assistance from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Get audio from the press conferences, see images of the investigation and search, a map of key events and related stories.
The NCMEC’s mission is to help prevent child abuse abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families and the professionals who serve them.
“We believe it’s important to provide assistance in a very quick manner,” said Bob Wally, executive director of NCMEC’s Missing Children Division. “Fortunately, these incidences are rare. We usually are not involved in the actual search but rather provide support.”
The NCMEC is alerted by sheriff’s offices, computer alerts or through Amber alerts. The Amber alerts program is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. Broadcasters can use the Emergency Alert System to air a description of the abducted child as well as the suspected abductor.
“We provide analytical support from a center as well as mapping services for ground searches. We have some of the best resources in the country,” said Wally. “We maintain databases where information on individuals can be shared immediately. There are also search dogs available if needed.”
NCMEC has assisted law enforcement personnel with 168,743 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of 154,578. “It was a very good job,” said Wally in responding to the efforts of the local officials in this particular case (Sarah Maynard). “They really didn’t need a lot of our help.”
The Missing Children’s Division is just one of a few services available through NCMEC in assisting with missing children cases. Also available are services through the Case Analysis and Support Division, Forensic Imaging Unit, Infant Abduction Prevention, International Division, Photo Distribution, Project Alert and Team Adam. Other services are available to assist in cases of child sexual exploitation.
“As far as search methods and how much we are used, it’s all up to [local officials]. We will do as much or as little as they request,” said Wally. “We believe someone knows where they are; we encourage them to come forward with this information.”
To report any information in a missing child’s case, the NCMEC has a toll-free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST.