OJJDP Administrator J. Robert Flores welcomes participants to the U.S. Department
of Justice's 22nd annual commemoration of National Missing Children's
Day, held May 20, 2005, at the Department's Hall of Justice in Washington,
DC. Seated are Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales; Acting Assistant Attorney
General for the Office of Justice Programs, Tracy A. Henke; Robbie Callaway,
Founding Board Member, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC);
Ernie Allen, NCMEC President; and guest speaker Gay Smither.
In his remarks, Attorney General Gonzales noted: "A missing child is every
parent's worst nightmare. Every day, the courageous men and women of law
enforcement work tirelessly to recover missing and exploited children across
our nation. We are grateful for their dedication, and today we recognize their
valiant efforts to apprehend would-be predators and keep our communities safe."
Acting Assistant Attorney General Henke presents the 2005
Officer of the Year Award to five officers from Missouri for
their role in the recovery of infant Victoria Stinnet: Special
Agent Kurt Lipanovich, Federal Bureau of Investigation, St.
Joseph; Investigator Randy Strong, Maryville Department of
Public Safety; Sergeant David Merrill and Corporal Jeffrey
M. Owen, Missouri State Highway Patrol; and Sheriff Ben Espey,
Nodaway County Sheriff's Department.
A National Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
went to four officers from the Philadelphia Police Department
for their work in recovering 6-year-old Delimar Vera, who was
abducted from her parents home when she was only 10 days old.
Deputy Micah W. Smith and Corporal Michael Harmon of the
Linn County Sheriff's Office in Albany, OR, received
a National Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
for recovering 11-year-old Tanner Kahn, who disappeared while
waiting at a bus stop. The officers were fired upon by the
kidnapper in the course of the recovery.
A team of four North Carolina officers from the U.S. Postal
Service, State Bureau of Investigation, and Hickory Police
Department conducted an investigation of a child prostitution
and pornography ring that led to the arrests of the ring's
leader and two other participants. The officers received
a National Exploited Children's Law Enforcement Award.
Lieutenant Kenny Wynns of the Midwest City (OK) Police Department
accepts a National Exploited Children's Law Enforcement
Award from Attorney General Gonzales for dismantling a child
prostitution ring. Over the course of 26 months, Lieutenant
Wynns identified more than 100 individuals who were engaged
in prostituting children.
Charles Cogburn of Russellville, AR, received the AMBER
Alert Citizen Award for his role in the rescue of 17-year-old
Shauna Leigh Owens of Plano, TX, who was kidnapped and held
at gunpoint. Shauna and her mother join Attorney General Gonzales
and Administrator Flores in honoring Mr. Cogburn.
Victim advocate Gay Smither recounts the tragic kidnapping
and murder of her 12-year-old daughter Laura in 1997. Ms. Smither founded
the Laura Recovery Center for
Missing Children, a nonprofit
organization that mobilizes volunteers to search for missing