The Kansas Bureau of Investigation revealed a new website this week aimed at increasing the public’s involvement with Kansas missing persons cases — allowing the public to search several ways for open missing persons cases.
The new site allows for searches by a missing person’s name or by Kansas county. Users can also search based on demographics such as name, gender, age or the date the missing person was last seen. When using the site, individuals are able to submit tips, information, and sightings directly to the KBI.
For McPherson County, only one case is listed — but the 17-year-old child is not, technically, missing.
“The parents are aware of where (the juvenile) is,” said McPherson County Undersheriff Skyler Christians.
The juvenile has been located, and there are legal issues to sort out at this time.
The reporting agency is listed as the McPherson County Sheriff’s Department. Christians said the department does not have many missing persons cases that drag out over time.
“It is not common for us,” Christians said. “We have criminal investigation tools that we can use to find people. If it is a person who is over the age 18 who just doesn’t want to be living with who they were living with anymore, usually we are able to find them eventually. … With electronic debting and things like that, it is usually just a matter of time.”
For neighboring Harvey County, the site lists eight missing persons — all were juveniles when they went missing. The oldest case was opened Dec. 17, 2017.
The new missing persons website can be viewed at www.kbi.ks.gov/missingpersons. Unlike several national or non-profit missing person sites, the search tool is specific to missing person cases that originated in Kansas. The website provides a current and comprehensive listing of all those reported missing throughout Kansas.
The KBI encourages anonymous tips as well. Once information is reported, the KBI will either evaluate and investigate the information, or forward the lead to the law enforcement agency that is investigating the missing person case.
“We know from experience that tips from the public provide a great advantage to law enforcement in locating missing Kansans, and we hope this website increases our interactions with citizens who wish to help,” said KBI Director Kirk Thompson.
Also featured on the new website are recommendations for how to report someone who has gone missing, safety information and resources. The site also has links to the Kansas AMBER Alert and Silver Alert websites.
“I think that is a great tool, for anybody,” Christians said. “If we had a missing person, you can search that persons name to see if there is a sighting anywhere. That is always a positive.”
Law enforcement agencies are allowed greater access to additional features of the website so they can update missing person cases in their jurisdictions, compare case profiles, and upload photographs of the missing. When creating the website the KBI worked with law enforcement agencies to ensure it would be a useful resource in missing persons cases, and to teach them how to update the profiles of those missing from their communities.
“Currently missing in Kansas are 295 adults and 280 juveniles. Behind each missing person is a family with unanswered questions. It is our hope that this website will become a valuable tool that aids law enforcement in answering the many questions that arise when an individual goes missing,” Thompson said.