Across the metro, several local missing persons cases remain unsolved. Camden toddler Myra Lewis, Terry resident Hazel Williams and Jackson resident Lefeldt Rudd Jr. all went missing within the last two months.
These cases present difficult challenges for law enforcement: how do you investigate it, what do you look for, and perhaps the hardest question of all, when do you stop?
"Sometimes you have a lot of evidence, and then other times you don't," said Pearl Police Detective. "It's a situation where you do what you can where you are."
Missing persons cases are among the most challenging for law enforcement, Windham says. Oftentimes they're starting from scratch with very little time.
In the Myra Lewis case, search teams from neighboring counties came in to help cover a larger area more quickly.
"It just tends in time that your chances decrease as far as locating that person, and so we know that time is of the essence, and we try to get out in front," Windham said.
The largest age group for missing persons cases: juveniles. They make up roughly two-thirds of nationwide reports, according to the FBI.
"I think there's much more of an awareness for domestic violence or domestic disputes these days than there ever has been. So, what that tells you is there's more turmoil in homes," Windham said.
Amber alerts also help, Windham adds, because they get the word out quickly, even though they're not issued until a person's been missing for 24 hours.
Lots of manpower on the front end are also key, but at some point, they have to pull back. Search teams have to leave. Families have to cope with the inevitable.
"They know how weighty of a subject and how tough of a subject it is, so they wear it on their backs when they go home," Windham said. "Trying to peel back from that, and just trying not to be submerged in the hunt trying to locate that victim or that person who's missing is tough. We certainly don't like to do it and those decisions really, really tug at your heart strings, you know."
Federal records indicate less than 7 percent of missing persons end up being located by law enforcement.
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