February 4th was formally designated as Colorado Missing Persons Day earlier this year when Colorado Senate Joint Resolution 23-005 passed. The day was originally founded in 2016 by Laura Saxton, whose daughter Kelsie Schelling was reported missing in Pueblo on February 4th, 2013, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. The senate resolution formalizes the day to help raise awareness about the number of people who go missing in Colorado every year. It is observed on the third Monday of February and offers an opportunity to publicly remember the missing and to support their families and friends, many of whom have never stopped searching. This year, a ceremony was held at the State Capitol on February 3rd, which was covered by multiple media outlets including KOAA.
As part of the ceremony, families and friends of the missing, including Saxton, took turns reading 549 names of missing Coloradoans to the crowd who gathered outside of the Capitol building. Many held signs with photos of their loved ones. Though some such as Saxton may be resigned to their loved one’s fate (Schellling’s boyfriend was convicted of her murder in 2021), not knowing where a loved one’s remains might be is “torture” Saxton says. She added the day helps to “know we’re not alone.”
CBI acts as a central tracking agency
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations lists missing Coloradoans on its website. Serving as a central repository for information on missing children and adults, the site helps the Bureau collect, compile and disseminate information to assist in finding missing persons. The Bureau is also responsible for obtaining dental records of persons who have been missing for thirty or more days, compares new student records with reports of missing children, and reviews each missing person report submitted and canceled by every law enforcement agency in Colorado. Governor Owens signed HB 02-1083 in 2002, which added the Colorado AMBER Alert Plan to the responsibilities of CBI. Of course, any disappearance of a child should be immediately reported to authorities.
There are many reasons why adults go missing. They may be victims of a crime, be in crisis or may have left voluntarily for reasons unknown to their family and friends. When foul play is suspected but there’s no evidence to support those suspicions, a case will remain open until there is enough evidence to suggest otherwise.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think an adult loved one is missing, the first step is to make sure by reaching out to others in that person’s orbit. If there is no evidence that the missing person voluntarily disappeared or no trace of any activity by the missing person, then it’s time to contact law enforcement.
Once law enforcement begins investigating, they will want to speak with anyone who had contact with your loved one before or after their disappearance. If no leads arise, you might want to consider contacting other agencies, the media or private investigators experienced in handling such cases. Though the path will vary depending on the circumstances, it’s important to gather and document as much information as possible from everyone connected to the missing person.
A Colorado private investigator may be able to help
Missing persons cases can be difficult to solve, but enlisting a Colorado private investigator might offer additional clarity or hope. Some people don’t want to be found and that can make finding out what happened especially difficult.
Private investigators are highly experienced in finding people and have the tools and resources to help find a missing loved one. They’ve also likely dealt with other clients in similar situations and might be able to offer emotional support and direct you to resources you may need during this difficult time.
Additional national online resources include The Charley Project, which was established to provide a national central clearinghouse of information about the more than 15,000 missing persons cases currently open.