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Missing-persons cases take a toll on families, officers

Missing-persons cases take a toll on families, officers

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RACINE COUNTY — As seen in Cleveland last week, a missing-persons case can be taxing for both family and law enforcement officials, and that’s no different here in Racine.

Although there are no names on the missing persons lists of either the Racine County Sheriff’s Office or Racine Police Department, when those cases do arise, Racine Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessie Metoyer said there are several steps taken and that the public can be aware of to assist.

Police discovered three kidnapped women reportedly kept prisoner in a Cleveland home for around a decade Monday, an emotional moment for both law enforcement officers and families there.

Emotional toll

Metoyer, who at one time worked in the city’s Detective Bureau, still clearly remembers a case she lost sleep over.

Dale Jensen, now 56, went missing in 2008, after reportedly telling his family he could “disappear” onto the streets and they’d never be able to find him, Metoyer said in an email. According to the latest information, that may be exactly what he did.

Police unsuccessfully followed several leads, even including tips that Jensen had died.

To this day, Metoyer wrote, he hasn’t been officially located, but the most up-to-date information suggests Jensen is living on the streets in Kenosha or northern Illinois by his own choice, rumored to be with a tight-knit group of other homeless individuals.

“Dale is not in trouble and Dale is not facing any charges,” Metoyer stressed, but said his family remains concerned about him, and wants to know that he is OK and that he can come home if or when he chooses.

For an officer on a case like Jensen’s, “You can certainly lose sleep,” Metoyer wrote. “Wondering what sign or clue you might (have) missed; is he OK; is he still alive? And simply wanting to bring some peace for the family.”

The families’ pain is hard to even imagine, according to Metoyer.

“We really want to find them for their families,” she wrote. “It’s hard to see families in pain and searching for answers.”

No open cases

According to the County Sheriff’s Office, there have been nine missing persons calls for both children and adults so far in 2013. All were found a short time after.

The city Detective Bureau said Friday there are no open cases.

Most often a missing person is located by family or comes home within the day, Metoyer said. But because of the many variables involved, it’s hard to tell a family exactly what to expect.

Law enforcement takes missing persons on a case-by-case basis, Metoyer said. Each complaint that comes in is reviewed by the Detective Bureau, and social media is a routine starting point for investigations, she wrote.

When someone goes missing and is endangered, the Police Department issues an alert with as much identifying information as is available. It also goes into a database that any officer can access, and will notify them if that person is believed to be missing and endangered, meaning they have mental or physical issues that put them at risk, Metoyer said.

When a person is missing and endangered the Police Department issues an alert that notifies area law enforcement about the person that is missing and additional relevant details, Metoyer said.

UPDATES

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