ALBANY — Posters of missing people dotted the inside of the auditorium at the New York State Museum and Cultural Education Center on Saturday.
The photos were of those such as Craig Frear, who disappeared at age 17 in June 2004 from Scotia, and Lutricia Steele, 27, who vanished in May 2008 from Schenectady.
Saturday marked the 17th annual Missing Persons Day ceremony, sponsored by the Center for Hope, which was launched by Mary Lyall and her late husband, Doug.
Lyall’s daughter, Suzanne, a University of Albany student, disappeared 20 years ago. She would’ve been 40 years old on Friday.
“On March 2, 1998, I lost the most precious gift,” Lyall said. “No words can describe the impact her disappearance has had on my family.”
Lyall launched the Center of Hope, which is located in Ballston Spa, with her husband to support families coping with an unexplained or unresolved disappearance of a loved one.
“While some family’s search span years before answers are found, for some, answers may never come,” she said. “We give families the tools and resources to help them.”
On Saturday, Lyall was presented with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal by state Sen. Jim Tedisco for her work in helping families of missing persons.
“Thank you for taking a tragedy and turning it into something positive for others,” Tedisco said to Lyall.
Since Suzanne’s disappearance, Lyall has helped create a Missing Persons Remembrance monument next to the State Museum in Albany, and made coasters and playing cards with the photos of missing persons.
Lyall also helped get “Suzanne’s Law” passed in 2003 on a federal level, which requires police to notify the National Crime Information Center when someone between the age of 18 and 21 are reported missing.
Last month, the New York State Senate passed “Suzanne’s Law — the Assault-Free School Zone,” which ensures stricter penalties and longer prison sentences for those who commit an assault or abduction on school grounds.
Lyall said she’s hoping the law passes in the Assembly.
She is also working with Tedisco to establish a cold case investigations unit in New York state.
“So many of these cases just sit in the drawer collecting dust,” she said. “We know some of them can be solved.
“[In Suzanne’s case,] police suspect homicide, but there’s no evidence. We will never give up.”
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Schenectady County