HARRISBURG – Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th, offered the following remarks during today’s Missing Persons’ Day Program held in the Capitol Rotunda:
“Hardly a day goes by without stories about what and how much can be learned through the application of remarkable technology. Locating people from the past, finding fugitives, keeping tabs on wrongdoers, discovering strangers know things about us we have forgotten, it is a rapidly expanding information world.
The same holds true for shining new light on old crimes. We read constantly how DNA has been used to solve cold cases and to reveal the innocence of the wrongly convicted and incarcerated.
For the families of missing persons, all this found knowledge and information can be disconcerting. It makes the lack of answers in their situations all the more emotionally difficult.
Combine it with the attention given to celebrity cases, and it is not hard to imagine the pain of uncertainty and inattention felt by the families of the missing.
A recent news story out of Philadelphia gave the scope of the missing persons problem powerful context – the national number is equivalent to the population of the city of Reading. The number of Pennsylvanians counted among the missing is higher than many would believe.
Listening to the stories of individuals in my district has prompted several reactions. First, there is a greater appreciation for the overwhelming emotional conflict that uncertainty over the fate of a loved one produces, the mix of hopes and fears, frustration and desperation, anguish and anger. People want to know the truth, no matter how far it is from a fairy tale ending.
There are steps available to help bring closure and justice. As with everything else individuals and groups seek, it is a matter of resources, of priority, and of tenacity.
By declaring Missing Persons Day, we encourage people – officials and citizens alike – to give attention to this problem. And we advance the discussion of potential changes in law and procedure that could prove helpful in bringing closure.
The more information that is gathered, the more that it is made accessible, the more that information is shared between enforcement agencies and other authorities, the better the chances that answers may be found.
I commend the advocacy efforts of Joanne Decker and Shirley Masters, who have tirelessly looked for their sister, Shelva Rafte, as well as other family members and supporters, along with the relentless efforts of Jennifer Storm, a superb advocate for crime victims, for this event, for the resolution, and for their commitment to this important cause.
Today we create awareness, build understanding and show support for the victims and families.”