CLEVELAND -- A full house gathered at the Applewood Center gym on Daisy Avenue, where people came to discuss the issue of missing persons.
The topic is fresh in the minds of everyone in Northeast Ohio, after the miraculous discovery of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus, in a neighborhood not far from the site of their disappearances a decade ago.
Second District Police Commander Keith Sulzer opened the discussion with reflection on the moments that police learned the three missing women were alive.
Sulzer said, in ten years working on the cases, he still gets emotional. A special agent from the FBI also explained the partnerships between the agency and local law enforcement. The FBI can't put their specialized teams into place, the agent said, without the help of local police and deputies who know the streets, neighborhoods and cases.
"It's been difficult for the FBI involved over the years to know these young ladies were so close to home," said the special agent. Sulzer also announced a new initiative in the Second District: The "See More Missing Persons Sweep".
Thephrase is a play on the word Seymour (as in Seymour Avenue, where the girls were held captive). Sulzer says his department will chose three dates a yearand a particular neighborhood in the Second District, where missing persons were recently reported. During the sweep, officers and activitists will canvas the streets with flyers of those missing persons, keeping the cases fresh in people's minds. Just today, police received four tips on missing persons cases in this district. Present at the meeting were two groups, looking for loved ones missing in the Cleveland area. Noel Nathaniel "Nate" Morris has been missing since 2002.
He lived at West 32nd and Lorain Avenue. Family members believe Morris was lured out of his apartment into an alley, where he disappeared. Now 54, Morris has blond hair, hazel eyes, is 6'2" and 170 lbs.
His sister says Morris was drug dependant at the time he went missing. "We just became concerned when we heard that Michelle Knight was an adult too. I don't think there's enough put out there on adults. We need to keep them in a database no matter if family can't be found. They should remain in that database," said Crystal Bougerra, Morris's sister.
Nicole A. Konanechas been missing from Deersville in Harrison County since early November 2012. Konanec is 5'6", 160 lbs with white hair and hazel eyes. Family friend Diana Hill came to the meeting specifically to pass her picture and information along to the community here. "[Hearing about Gina, Michelle and Amanda] gives me hope. H
uman trafficking is a huge question in this case. Foul play is always a question," said Hill of her friend. "You call anybody you can. You call the FBI, you call friends, family. You think anyone can help, and you do that," said Hill.
There are over 2900 missing persons cases in Cleveland every year, and most get solved. For a look at those currently unsolved and listed in the database, click on the link on this page.