Family members hold out hope for missing loved ones

More than one person in the crowd of about 150 held a box of Kleenex on their lap, dabbing at their

More than one person in the crowd of about 150 held a box of Kleenex on their lap, dabbing at their eyes while listening to presentations in the Huxley Theater at the New York State Museum Sunday.

Outside in the lobby, while small children held their parents’ hands and shrieked over the museum displays of planets, fish and birds, card tables bearing T-shirts, buttons, brochures and wedding photos stood as silent testament to New Yorkers gone missing.

“Our Mommy is Still Missing,” was screen- printed on one shirt, accompanied by hand-scrawled letters from the children of Audrey May Herron of Catskill, missing since Aug. 29, 2002. “Where is George LaForest?” was emblazoned on dozens of posters at a nearby table, looking for any clues to the disappearance of LaForest, who vanished April 21, 2006, in Indian Lake. Many of the tables displayed Web site addresses for more information, most starting with the letters www.find . . . .

There was also a booth for parents to have child identification cards made for young ones, who inked their thumbprints and smiled for the camera without any notion of the serious nature of the photo cards.

Kim Huskie of East Greenbush had cards made for her son, Jacob Evans, 5, and daughter Sierra Huskie, 15.

“I feel better having this information on record,” Kim Huskie said. “It’s heartbreaking to think about. When I was little, we went anywhere; we walked to school and to the park, we didn’t give it a second thought. We live in different times today.”

The annual New York State Missing Persons Day is held every year on April 6, coinciding with the birth date of Suzanne Lyall, who disappeared 10 years ago while a student at the University at Albany.

The daughter of Doug and Mary Lyall of Ballston Spa, Suzanne’s parents established the Center for HOPE (Healing Our Painful Emotions) eight years ago in their living room.

Since then, they’ve been the guiding force behind generating more avenues for getting the names and faces of missing people out in the public eye, pushing for tougher legislation, particularly around school campuses, and bringing families and friends together for comfort.

“There is tremendous strength and support we gain just from being in the same shoes,” Doug Lyall said. “There’s a uniqueness of this ambiguous loss we are faced with; we can describe it to others but not make them understand.”

According to the New York Sheriff’s Association, there are 3,500 missing persons in New York state, with 1,400 over the age of 18. U.S. Rep. Kristen Gillibrand told the audience she willl continue working to promote safety measures for older students.

“We have many laws protecting children, but on any given day there are thousands of adults missing, and many are college-age women,” said Gillibrand. “People need to know it happens on college campuses frequently. I thank the Lyalls from the bottom of my heart for working to educate people. Most families never get beyond the kind of tragedy they’ve seen.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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