ROANOKE, Va. – On any given day, there are about 650 people missing in Virginia, according to officials with the state Department of Emergency Management. Of that, more than half are children.
“Missing is tough. For the families, they’re straddling the great divide,” explains Jill Harrington. “They’re trying to maintain hope, but at the same time they’re bracing for the most devastating news.”
Harrington is the founder of Help Save the Next Girl, an organization dedicated to serving missing persons and their families. She is also the mother of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington who vanished during a Metallica concert in Charlottesville at UVA on Oct. 17, 2009. Her body was located in a field three months later.
“Someone has to be the face of it so it personalizes it and it’s not just an abstraction that happens to other people in other places,” said Harrington. “It happens right here in our nice little safe town.”
As of September 1, Morgan Eggeman, an operations officer in the search and rescue division of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, reports there are 352 open cases of missing children in Virginia.
Data for adults is harder to obtain.
“People, particularly adults, have the right to be missing and to be unaccounted for,” explained Harrington.
The Virginia Department of Justice Services has compiled a resource guide full the best next steps if you find yourself with a missing loved one, who to contact, realistic expectations, and more.
Click here to read the Virginia Missing Person Family Resource Guide.