Law enforcement: Don’t wait to report a missing person

There is no longer a 24 hour wait before a person is officially considered missing. McCracken County Chief Deputy Mike Turnbow said it hasn’t been that way for years, but parents are still confused.

Barbara Erickson, whose son has been missing since 2007, said she wants everybody to know what they should do. 

"He’s still out there," she said. "It’s a struggle not knowing. It’s grieving every day." She doesn’t want any other family to feel the pain she does of not knowing what happened to her son, Aaron Watkins.

He disappeared in New Jersey 10 years ago. She said his roommate called law enforcement an hour after he last saw him.

"They found the car parked near the bridge, and my son nowhere in sight," Erickson said.

Law enforcement officers say to call 911 as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the area where the missing person could be grows.

"If this is a small child, a person with dementia, it’s the middle of winter, it’s 20 degrees outside," said Turnbow. "That window shrinks from 24 hours to 2 to 4 hours."

Turnbow said there are no consequences to calling.

"I have searched for a lot of missing children. I have seen some children’s bodies. If you can’t find your child, and you call us, and we find him asleep under a pile of blankets, that is a relief to us," he said.

Erickson said every missing person deserves to be found. If someone you know is missing for more than 30 days, Erickson suggests that you submit DNA to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Turnbow said parents should keep an up-to-date photo and fingerprints of their children and update those photos every year.

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