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
Deputy Micah W. Smith and Corporal Michael Harmon, Linn County
(OR) Sheriff's Office.
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.
- 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,
- 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
Postal Inspectors John Johnson, Newark, NJ, and Lisa C. Holman,
Charlotte, NC, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
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.
- 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,
Read more about award winners
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