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   DOJ Commemorates Missing Children’s Day 2005

May/June 2005
In This Issue
Missing Children’s Day
Faith-Based Initiatives
Court Coordination Program
EUDL Conference
New Publications
Funding Update
Coordinating Council
Advisory Committee

OJJDP Staff News


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) held its 22nd annual commemoration of National Missing Children's Day on May 20, 2005, at the Department's Hall of Justice in Washington, DC. Among the dignitaries who spoke at the event were Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, Tracy A. Henke, and OJJDP Administrator J. Robert Flores. Gay Smither from Friendswood, TX, whose 12-year-old daughter Laura was kidnapped and murdered in 1997, also addressed the commemoration audience.

This year's ceremony recognized the outstanding efforts that law enforcement personnel and private citizens have made on behalf of missing and exploited children. The 2005 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was shared by Sheriff Ben Espey of the Nodaway County (MO) Sheriff's Department; Corporal Jeffery M. Owen and Sergeant David Merrill of the Missouri State Highway Patrol; Investigator Randy Strong of the Maryville (MO) Department of Public Safety; and Special Agent Kurt Lipanovich of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in St. Joseph, MO. These officers were responsible for the swift recovery of Victoria Stinnett, an infant who survived being torn from the womb by her mother's murderer.

Other law enforcement award winners included:

  • Lieutenant Michael J. Boyle, Detective Manuel Gonzalez, Detective David Thomas, and Detective Kimberly Stone, Philadelphia (PA) Police Department.

  • In Memory of Etan Patz

    On May 25, 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz grabbed his school books and gave his mother a goodbye kiss before leaving to catch the bus to school. Etan's mother was never to see him again. In the months and years that followed, Etan became the symbol for lost children all over America. Then, in 1982, President Reagan proclaimed May 25, the anniversary of Etan's disappearance, as National Missing Children's Day. Each year since, the U.S. Department of Justice has held a ceremony to commemorate missing children and to honor men and women across the nation who have worked tirelessly to recover missing children and reunite them with their families. Sadly, Etan was never found, but National Missing Children's Day continues to be a fitting tribute to his memory.

    Deputy Micah W. Smith and Corporal Michael Harmon, Linn County (OR) Sheriff's Office.

  • Lieutenant Kenny Wynns, Midwest City (OK) Police Department.

  • Supervisory Special Agent Susan M. Cantor, Supervisory Special Agent Peter C. Fitzhugh, and Senior Intelligence Specialist Peter Buchan, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Newark, NJ.

  • Special Agent Maria A. Reverendo, Internal Revenue Service, Springfield, NJ.

  • Detective Kurt M. Jones and Detective Michael A. Boymer, Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff's Office.

  • Deputy Chief Carlos F. Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark McCarren and Kevin O'Dowd, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey.

  • Harris Elizabeth Fyfe, Grahamwood Elementary School, Memphis, TN, won the Missing Children's Day poster contest for 2004. Her winning design, shown above, was featured in the 2005 event.

    Postal Inspectors John Johnson, Newark, NJ, and Lisa C. Holman, Charlotte, NC, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

  • Investigator Joanna S. Morton, Hickory (NC) Police Department.

  • Special Agents Lori D. Shank and Ginger Hutchinson, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

The AMBER Alert Citizen Award went to Charles Cogburn of Russellville, AR. Mr. Cogburn, a truck driver, was instrumental in the rescue of 17-year-old Shauna Leigh Owens of Plano, TX, who had been kidnapped by an acquaintance and was being driven through Arkansas. Mr. Cogburn recognized Shauna from a televised AMBER Alert and made the 911 call that led to her eventual rescue. Shauna and her mother also attended the ceremony.

Also participating in the ceremony were Robbie Callaway, Executive Vice President, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Founding Board Member, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC); and Ernie Allen, NCMEC President. Families of missing children were among the guests at the ceremony. Other guests included representatives of child advocacy organizations, federal agencies, and corporations.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the 2005 National Missing Children's Day Art Contest Award to Dana Sever, a fifth grader from Los Alamitos Elementary School in San Jose, CA, followed by vocal performances by the Bells of Love, Syracuse, NY; the World Children's Choir, Washington, DC; and Ron and Maryann Sfarzo, Belmont, CA.

Read more about award winners

View photos from the ceremony.

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