Sheriff Larry Amerson said Thursday he’s received calls from people wondering if the body could belong to their missing loved one. He said one mother called from Georgia questioning if it could be her son who has been missing since 1993.
Amerson said he can’t give specific details to families until forensic evidence is returned. Until then, everything is speculation.
Two of the four missing persons disappeared when Amerson was still working as a deputy. He said even though the cases have been considered cold, there has been a constant effort to find those who are missing. Amerson said that for several years, multiple searches for missing people had been conducted in the area where the body was found Tuesday. Since the first report 22 years ago, deputies have used cadaver dogs to search the woods and a scuba team to explore a nearby lake, hoping to find evidence of what happened to the four missing from Piedmont.
“There are murderers evading justice, and they are walking among us,” Amerson said. “We want to do everything we can to bring them to justice.”
According to the National Crime Information Center’s missing person files, 678,860 people were listed as missing in the United States in 2011. Of those, 550,424 were listed as under the age of 21. Between 2010 and 2011 the number of missing persons entered into the NCIC database has decreased by a little more than 14,000 people. Data for 2012 has not yet been published by the NCIC.
Oxford Police Lt. L.G. Owens said his agency frequently gets missing person reports, but when it does, families must wait 24 hours before reporting a missing adult.
“Unless foul play is suspected, we generally wait 24 hours … if it’s a juvenile it can be reported missing immediately,” Owens said.
Owens said the reason behind this policy is that most people don’t wander off for 24 hours without telling anyone, especially in an age where everyone has a cell phone.
Officials with the Anniston Police Department said they average one missing person report each week.
“The majority of them would probably be runaway juveniles; they often come back home or are found in a day or two,” Sgt. Josh Doggrell said. “A lot are unfounded, where the person isn’t missing in the first place.”
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.