(Introduction to show begins)
ERIC MEADOWS (Co-Host of WCAN): Good evening, everyone. I’d like to welcome you to Missing Pieces here on WCAN, the World Center Association Network. Tonight’s show is hosted by Todd Matthews and he is bringing with him, a guest; our very first guest that we had on Missing Pieces. How are you doing tonight, Todd?
TODD MATTHEWS (Host of Missing Pieces): I’m doing great, and you guys?
ERIC: That’s really good, really good. Who did you bring with you tonight?
TODD: We’ve got Patty Beeken, she’s president of ‘Four The Kids’ and she was our number one guest. We actually didn’t record that first episode, so we will restore balance to the galaxy by recording this broadcast. Welcome, Patty.
PATTY BEEKEN (Guest): It’s good to be here.
TODD: We didn’t really have a really focused conversation so tonight we’d kind of like to have a fireside chat, where we kind of cover some of the things in the news and some of our former guests; there are a lot of topics right now, it’s a tumultuous time for missing persons right now.
PATTY: Yeah, there are actually quite a few things going on, and especially…Todd and I kind of did an email interview over the weekend, which he has made into an article about a few things having to do with ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and there are quite a few issues going on right at the present time.
TODD: I was just warming you up for another interview.
TODD: We do a column with Missing Pieces as well, where we try to stay current with some of our past guests and Patty was one of them. But ‘Stockholm Syndrome’…define that a little bit…why somebody stays with somebody that has abducted them. You know, there are several reasons, are they brainwashed or fear, you know, there are just so many reasons. You know, there’s Shawn Hornbeck, the boy that was abducted for several years with Michael Devlin…is that his name Michael Devlin?
PATTY: I believe so.
TODD: So he stayed with him but he actually had freedom. He could actually use the telephone, had access to the Internet and he spent time with friends. Now what would make that boy stay?
PATTY: Well, I believe, in this case, that he was told…well, the family actually said it, I believe on ‘Oprah’, that he was actually told that if he tried to get away that his abductor would kill his entire family, or would kill him. I think that children are very adaptable; they do whatever it takes to survive, and I believe that if he was that frightened, that he knew something would happen to his parents, that he just decided that he would have to stay there and live accordingly. Kids, like I said, you know there are a lot of kids that are abused, that no one ever knows about and they continue to stay there and not say anything just because that’s the way that they feel that they can survive.
TODD: Well it’s easy for us to…you know we don’t mean to interject a lot of opinion on this particular case because we don’t know what that boy went through but, in general, in cases like this, there are so many reasons why they might stay. I’ve even understood that this boy was possibly helping with abducting the second child.
PATTY: And that could possibly be. When I first read about Shawn being found, it kind of takes me back to another case with Steven Stayner, I don’t know if you folks remember that one…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …but there was a book written, ‘I Know My First Name Is Steven,’ and he lived with Kenneth Parnell for many years and participated in a lot of things and it all kind of started when Parnell picked him up and told him that, I can’t remember exactly, but he told him that his family had sold him to him or something similar thing, and there had been a little hassle with the parents and Steven that had occurred over the garage door or something, and so I think that he really truly believed that because he’d been ‘bad’ that that was what had happened, and he lived with this man for many years. He finally got away because Parnell had abducted another young boy…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and he did not want see anyone else go through what he had gone through. So they were left alone while he went to work, and so he took the little boy and they walked into town and he was found, and I believe he was missing for something like 7 or 8 years.
TODD: Wow. But it would take an evil genius to be able to completely brainwash a child. I’ve got a 14-year-old, and I can’t even threaten him to pick his dirty clothes up off the floor.
TODD: And you have to wonder, how would somebody get inside a child’s mind so completely?
PATTY: Well, when you start with younger kids, you know, these boys were 6 or 7 years old…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …when they were abducted. You know when they’re younger like that…if you were told that your family didn’t want you anymore and that you had to no place to go, you know at that age it would be difficult, I think, to…first of all, you have to take that into your mind, you know, that your Mom and Dad don’t want you anymore…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and once you’re convinced of that, I think you would probably just do about anything because you need some place to stay, no matter how bad things get at some point.
TODD: Well you’ve got to prepare for things like this because it could happen to anybody. My 5-year-old, he knows everybody’s phone numbers; he knows all of our cell phone numbers, my Mom’s and my Dad’s number, aunts and uncles, he knows everybody’s numbers. He’s just like a little walking Rolodex, he knows everybody’s phone number and I think he would use it if he got the opportunity. I’m pretty sure that he would call just about everybody that he knew.
PATTY: And that’s good, and I think that nowadays a lot of younger kids do have cell phones…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and it’s a quick easy way. At ‘Four The Kids’ we’ve done some seminars and things with kids, training with kids, and one of the things that we really advocate is to teach your child a codeword…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …that you or designated family members know this codeword if they have to go pick them up at school or something. Ingrain it into that child that unless someone that has come to pick them up knows that codeword, not to go with them, you know.
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: We believe in practicing with your kids, you know take them out to the park and have them pretend like somebody’s trying to grab them. You know kids like to scream and holler, so when we were doing this training in the schools, it got kind of noisy, you know? (Laughs)
TODD: Oh yeah.
PATTY: We have a presentation type thing that we show, it’s a video, and afterwards we do some training with the kids and we encourage them, “Scream as loud as you can because we want you to do this, and we want you not to be afraid to do that,” so it gets a little noisy but it really makes them remember that more; just having them practice.
TODD: So, if people out there, some of our listeners, if they’re interested in bringing this type of seminar to their communities, how would they do that?
PATTY: Actually there are several places that you can get videos; there’s one video called, ‘Escape School’…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and I can’t think of the name of it, it’s actually a mortuary company will supply this, and I’m sorry I can’t think off the top of my head what the company is, but if anybody wants that information, they could write to me. I think they charge like $5.00 a copy.
TODD: But you have a lot of resources listed on the ‘Four The Kids’ website?
PATTY: Yes. Yes, we do.
TODD: Okay, do you want to give that domain name?
PATTY: It is http://www.fourthekids.org/. Yeah, we do, we actually have a lot of family resources there. We have a CD that you can purchase to put all the information about your child; you can download pictures, it walks you through. It’s kind of a big long form but it’s the information you would need if your child should ever become missing. You would just be able to hand that to the police instead of trying to sit down and think of those things. I have been through that myself and it is very difficult when you’re that stressed to sit down and think about how much your child weighs and what they were wearing.
TODD: Yes, especially at that point in time, you know, that’s going to be very to do. Is that something you could download to a fly-strap and take it with you?
PATTY: Oh yeah.
TODD: And that’s handy because you’ve got it on your keychain.
TODD: You know it’s with you if you’ve got your car, and you’re definitely going to be using your car at a time like that, and you will supply that to the police readily.
PATTY: Yeah. All you have to do is, you know you can take it, put it on your computer, type in the information; it tells you how to do your own DNA sample and all those things to have readily available, God forbid in case you ever need them, but when you need them that’s the worst time for you to try to remember those things.
TODD: Well, that’s the ounce of prevention that really helps; it really helps.
ERIC: Patty, I do have a question I would like to ask you concerning the ‘Stockholm Syndrome.’
PATTY: Uh huh.
ERIC: When a child has been abducted and has been with their captor over a long period of time, what is the actually outcome, or has anybody every done a study on what happens to that child over a long period of time, let’s say, they reach adolescence or adulthood and they’ve had this catastrophic event happen to them, how does that affect them?
PATTY: Well I think it’s mostly…a lot of that depends on what kind of treatment they receive. I will always think that Steven Stayner did what he did because after he got to be, I think 16 or 17 years old, and he knew that the things that were going on were wrong and couldn’t be right, I think that as he started to get older, he started to consider some of those things and wait for a break until he’s…you know if the younger boy hadn’t come along, he probably would have waited a little while and then taken off anyway…
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: …because as these kids get older, I think they start to get more questions in their mind. And I know of no way that they could come out of something like that without having to have some kind of therapy.
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: I mean that is such a catastrophic thing to happen, to be taken from your family, and then to have to try to deal with the lies that that person has told you and to live your life and then to find out later that all those things were never true…
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: …you know it has to be very devastating no matter what age you are.
ERIC: Okay. Okay. You were talking about teaching children how to respond in the face of an event such as abduction or an attempted abduction, do children, after practicing it, do they freeze up normally or do they react and begin to go through the paces of what they’ve been taught?
PATTY: I think that the more you practice with them, the more comfortable they get. I mean, some of the things that we go through, you know, a big ploy that some of these people use is, “I’ve lost my dog. Can you help me?” We try to practice with them using all those things so that when someone says that to them, if they’ve practiced you and the parents keep going with it, afterwards, I think that if they hear a phrase like that, it’s going to set off something in their mind that they need to get away right now.
TODD: You know I think that that particular case has opened a lot of questions I think we’ve all had in our minds for a long time. I’ve got a colleague at NBC News, and I know they’ve done some really in-depth studies on this case and cases like it, and one of the questions that popped up…Shawn was pliable, he (Devlin) was able to manipulate him, what happens if he can’t? Could Devlin have possibly been responsible for other cases, other possible homicides, with a child that wasn’t so easily swayed?
PATTY: Well…and that is a good point because I believe that now several different law enforcement agencies are looking into things.
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: Young boys of that age that have disappeared and never been found. And every case would have to be different, but I know of no reason that that couldn’t happen…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …because if you attempt to abduct a child and you know that child is going to get away from you, if you are going to continue to do it for that many years, I can’t see a reason why that would not take place.
TODD: Well, you know, it’s a unique case. This is not the normal type abduction because the child there, the one in this particular case, the one that was difficult to handle…you know, Shawn was apparently easily manipulated by this very talented man for doing that, now the child that might have been more resistant, might have actually been in more danger.
TODD: And it’s hard but you can’t predict those cases, you know the general abduction is not a situation like this. In the general abduction, they’re already in danger immediately…
TODD: …and I think he was really looking for a long-term situation.
PATTY: Yeah. With most of your stranger abductions, in a case like this, the child is usually dead within the first 4 hours, you know. So these are unusual circumstances because most abductors, if they’re going to go to that extent to abduct a child, you know they want to get rid of them as quickly as they can once they’re done with whatever reason they abducted the child for because they don’t want to get caught. The fact that he kept these kids for so long is actually kind of puzzling to me.
PATTY: You know it’s an odd thing, but there again, like I said, it reminds me so much of the Steven Stayner case because he kept that boy for years. I think that, whatever, as long as the child is moldable in how they deal, then I believe that they have a better chance of survival, which then again goes back to kids will do…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …whatever they can do to stay alive.
TODD: Well, the good thing is he survived and his return is actually helping to awaken a new awareness in this type of situation and hopefully help us make progress in this field here. It’s always been something…it’s been in the back of our minds, the children that alive, you have to think…some of them have developed into adults.
PATTY: Oh yeah.
TODD: Do they know who they are?
PATTY: Well, that’s a good question. Probably not. I believe, a lot of kids, I’m sure if something happened to you that catastrophic…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and you…a lot of children put those things out of their mind or have post-traumatic stress syndrome or they don’t remember, you know they bury that so deeply in their minds, some day they may remember but maybe not, you know.
TODD: Well they might not necessarily be physically or sexually abused if they’re taken.
TODD: You know that’s not a given always, but you have to think that they might be living as an adult under the assumption that they were adopted.
PATTY: Uh huh.
TODD: And I think that there are adults out there that have questions, as far as, “I’m adopted, but I’ve never really looked back into it, but something doesn’t seem right.” We certainly want to encourage them to take a look into that. You know a lot of people don’t want to look back into adoption records because they don’t want to offend the adoptive parents.
PATTY: Exactly, and a lot of people don’t try to research their adoptions because it’s very difficult.
TODD: It’s too difficult.
PATTY: I have a sister that was given up for adoption that I actually found on the Internet, but Nebraska laws are that they won’t open a case, you know. You have to go to court, you have to get a judge, you have to do it, and when I first started looking for my sister, adoption records are sealed, and that’s it. So, once people kind of start, even they are thinking about it, sometimes just what you are going to have to overcome…
PATTY: …is enough to make you not pursue that.
TODD: Well how was your sister? How receptive was she when you contacted her?
PATTY: Oh, she was great. She was great. We all got together and had a meeting; my other sister and my brother and I met her, and unfortunately she lives so far away, we don’t get to spend enough time together. When I first called her…we kind of emailed back and forth one morning and my grandparents have a very odd name, their last name is Hervine (ph), and her parents were on vacation and she could not get to her birth certificate that was locked in the safe, so she sent another email, and she said, “I remember this name,” and she spelled it because it’s spelled very oddly, and I knew as soon as she spelled that that it had to be her. And so we emailed back and forth a little bit more and I called her, and when I called, her husband answered the phone and there was long silence and he said, “Just a minute, I’ll get her,” and it took her a long time to come to the phone and when she came to the phone, she said, “Rick says you sound just like me.” (Laughs)
ERIC: (Laughs also)
TODD: Wow. What was it like meeting yourself? I mean, a part of your own flesh and blood?
PATTY: It was very interesting. I was a little nervous, you know, but she’s great. We kind of just kept looking at each other, and her husband kept looking at me and he said, “Take your glasses off. Oh my God, you guys look just alike.”
PATTY: I don’t see that but… (Laughs)
TODD: Well, you know, adoption records, I know they’re sealed for a purpose, and sometimes it’s for the protection, and for privacy matters, you know you don’t want to adopt a child and worry about somebody coming to try to take it back from you after you’ve established a relationship, and it’s hard.
PATTY: It is difficult.
TODD: But the Tate family (Episode 17), they’re former guests; there’s Alan Tate, his family, a huge family that lived in an Amish community, and the father had physically and sexually abused them. The state split them up, after they managed to escape and actually get the message to somebody, but the thing that was most precious to all of them, they were separated.
TODD: We had to actually use a private investigator to contact the adult children. We had to locate them through a private investigator, and they were adults; I’m not seeing this as protecting a child any longer.
PATTY: Uh huh.
TODD: So why go beyond the childhood years? I can see them being sealed up to 18 years old.
PATTY: Exactly. And some states are loosening that up a little bit now. In Nebraska now, even though the records are sealed, if you request…I think you have to send it to the Bureau of Vital Statistics; if you write a letter and send it to them and say, “I was adopted. I would like to know if anyone is trying to contact me.” Then they will keep that letter on file so that if anyone from the other side is looking for you, then they can put those two things together.
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: There are also a couple of adoption organizations here in the state that kind of, once you’re an adult, will help you see if you can find your family.
TODD: That’s really important too. Eric, this show is your punishment for running away when you were younger. (Laughter) You’re going to have to do this show every week for the rest of your life.
ERIC: You know something? Up until the time when we first did the show…
TODD: Uh huh.
ERIC: …I had no idea of the jeopardy that I was putting myself in because in my mind, all I wanted to do was get with Grandma and Grandpa. You know, I was angry with my parents at home and I knew if I got to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, they spoiled us…
ERIC: …and me and the dog would just live happily ever after.
TODD & PATTY: (Laugh)
ERIC: You know it’s a wonder that I made it from New York to New Jersey…
ERIC: …without ever being picked up, you know, because I was along the turnpike and that’s a horrible place to be for a child.
TODD: Even back in that day it was still.
TODD: You’re in the big city, and we’re never going to let you live that down but, you know even when I was a kid, I’m in a small town, Livingston, Tennessee, I remember being able to go to bed at night without locking the doors.
PATTY: Oh my God, my Mom still doesn’t lock hers.
TODD: Well don’t tell anybody that. (Laughter)
PATTY: I grew up on a ranch so it’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and you know you bring up a good point with that, because kids don’t thing, they don’t think, and I have a particularly hard time sometimes, you know, we do our best and we work with law enforcement a lot but there are a few officers with attitudes that say, “Well, that’s kid is a runaway. They ran away and this is the third time; they’re just a runaway.” You know…
TODD: Now you’ve got to think though.
PATTY: …and to me, you know I raised 4 daughters, and from time to time, kids would show up at our house that didn’t really belong there, and I would either make them call their parents or I would call their parents. You know if somebody is keeping your kids and they’re feeding them and clothing them, how many people are going to do that out of the goodness of their heart? If they have that good of a heart, why are they going to do that, and why are they not going to call that child’s parents? You know, they want something back in return.
TODD: Of course.
ERIC: Uh huh.
TODD: Well, you know, a runaway, and I know they take it at a lower priority when they know he’s a runaway, what if something had happened to Eric on the way? Somebody sees a vulnerable child, obviously a little nervous, a little scared, out his element…easy pickings.
PATTY: Oh, exactly.
TODD: So they’re all endangered. You see runaway, endangered runaway and abducted.
PATTY: Well, we kind of consider…you know we have a lot of cases with runaways and our thoughts…especially girls, because girls are more likely to run away…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …I don’t know if it’s because they’re more temperamental.
TODD: Oh yeah.
PATTY: We figure that if they’re out on the street for longer than 72 hours, they’re probably doing something they shouldn’t be doing to get through, you know?
TODD: Yeah. Well, it doesn’t take long to get hungry and get desperate.
PATTY: Well, you know, when you’re 16 and run away and you have a $100, and you think, “Wow, I’ve got $100,” and if 2 or 3 of you run away, you’ve bought 3 meals and you’re out of money.
ERIC: Yeah, just about.
PATTY: So that’s when things start to get dangerous, and like I said, if somebody is feeding you and clothing you, or even just feeding you, that you don’t know, and they continue to do it, why are they doing it? Because, chances are, they want something back from you.
TODD: Well, you don’t have to, but if you want to, would you like to elaborate on your own missing child? I know you had an experience with that and…
PATTY: Yeah, actually, that’s how I got started in this whole thing. Like I said, I have 4 daughters…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and my second to youngest daughter, when she was 17, she ran away and was missing for 3 months. She, up until that point in time, had been a straight-A, honor-roll student; she didn’t date very much, she did go out with a group of friends and I don’t know if this is turning 17 or what, but she just kind of picked up traces and their father lived at the other end of the state and the kids would go out and spend the summer with him because it was too far to travel during the school year. And she was out there and she was kind of mad at us because we made her go, she didn’t really want to go, she wanted to stay here and get a job and about 3/4 of the way through the summer, she still didn’t have a job, and I said, “You need to go and spend some time with your Dad,” and her Dad didn’t want to drive to get her so he made her ride the bus. So she was very upset, she got out there and she met this boy… (Laughs)
PATTY: This was a girl who had probably been on 3 dates. Her first date she ever had was to the Military Ball, and she met this boy and just decided to stay. She decided that she wanted to stay with her Dad and go to school out there and, at that age, I tried to argue about it for a while, but I kind of said, “Okay, we’ll give this a try.” And I got a phone call the second week of October that she had left a note and ran away, and I still had custody so I had to deal with all of this and I really didn’t know what to do.
TODD: If you knew then what you know now…
PATTY: Oh yeah.
TODD: …would you be more panicked?
TODD: Would the panic have been greater?
PATTY: No, probably not. I probably…I don’t know if I could be much more panicked than I was. (Laughs)
TODD: Well, now that you’ve researched it, you’re like myself, you know all the evils.
PATTY: Well, yeah, looking at it from that aspect, I probably would, but I was very frightened. My friend, Dean, who has since passed away…
TODD: He actually co-founded this organization with you?
PATTY: Yes. Yes, Dean Powers. He was my best friend, back in the 70s, worked for a security company here in Omaha, that used to do things like get kids back out of cults and those kinds of things.
TODD: Wow, recovery.
PATTY: Yeah. So I called Dean, and I said, “Jessica’s run away. I don’t know what to do,” you know, and he was like, “All right, calm down. I’m going to tell you what to do,” and he had me first of all call the police, because I had to call all the way across the state…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: which is difficult to try to deal with something like that when you’re almost 500 miles away, because Nebraska is a big state. And I had to call out there and do the police report and had me call the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, which those people are wonderful. They’re lovely people but they weren’t very much help to me because they couldn’t be.
TODD: Well, this is before you had really good knowledge of the Internet as well.
PATTY: Oh yeah, I mean I’d had the Internet for probably 6 months.
TODD: And the resources just weren’t there at that time, not like now.
PATTY: Yeah, there was nothing there. There was nothing there. And in the meantime, Dean made our first website, actually he made our first web flyer. He made a webpage with Jessica’s picture on it and her information that you could print out and hang up, and we started sending this picture out to all of our email friends, and I think it was like the third weekend and we’d had well over 10,000 hits on that website, and I got tons of emails from people. The really difficult thing about the whole case was, one of my older daughters actually knew where she was, but she wouldn’t tell me that Jessica had run away with a Hispanic boy.
TODD: Did you know that she knew?
PATTY: Yes. (Laughs)
TODD: Did you beat that kid?
PATTY: Close. (Laughter) And Jessica had told Michelle that if she told, that they would leave and go to Mexico and we would never find them. And it was…I had that kid down on her knees, I don’t know how many times, trying to get her to tell me and she just wouldn’t; she was scared.
TODD: Of course, it’s just the reverse situation to her; if somebody had abducted a child, she was afraid of making it worse.
PATTY: Right. And she was just scared and she would cry and I would cry.
ERIC: Let me ask you, were the police involved?
PATTY: Well, actually, yes. The little town…she ran away from a little dinky town out in Western Nebraska, about 10 miles from the Wyoming border, and they had one police officer…
PATTY: …and the boy she ran away with, his parents owned…they had bought an old hotel building, and this was right around October, so at Thanksgiving I talked to him, and Jessica’s little sister, Liz, was in contact with this boy’s brother, I mean they knew the whole family, so Liz and Tony were the same age and they would sit out back and Liz told me that Tony thought that the kids were coming for Thanksgiving, so I called out there and talked to the law enforcement officer, and he went out there for 4 nights in a row and laid in the ditch across the street from this house to see if the kids ever showed up. And they never did. I did find out…Jessica called me from a payphone to tell me to stop and to tell the police not to look for her anymore because if I didn’t, she was never going to speak to me, and I happened to capture that number so we knew that she was in Cheyenne. So I called the police there and they were less than helpful. They kept saying, “Well, she’s going to be 18.” Well, she had just turned 17 in August and this was in November, so I said, “She’s not 18.”
ERIC: Right. Exactly.
PATTY: And I could really not get them to help me.
TODD: Why do you think that was? Why did they not help you?
PATTY: They just kept saying, “Well, she ran away and she’s going to be 18.” It’s a tough nut to crack, you know, there’s that thing in some officers’ minds, that if the kid is that old and they run away, you know they just ran away.
ERIC: Now, is that a prevalent way of thinking, even today?
PATTY: Not so much, I don’t think. I think that we’ve become more aware. I think as a nation as a whole, we’ve become more aware…after the Elizabeth Smart case and the Natalie Holloway case. And I think that people complain that only the little blond, white girls get the publicity, but I think that it has raised our awareness our nationwide about missing children.
TODD: Well a lot of people would give their eye teeth, you know we have so many people that are backed up and they want to be a guest on the show, and I don’t want them to feel like it’s this is going to be a magic bullet and they’re going to have resolution just from doing this show, but you want to give them a voice and you want to give them an opportunity to say what they think, because so often in media, you have an interview that’s 5 to 10 minutes long and then it’s edited afterwards. We do very little editing, only if we must, will we edit anything, but you want to give the people the opportunity to speak and say what’s on their mind and how they feel, and I think they appreciate it.
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: I think so too.
TODD: The family members…you know we get some really kind notes that they’ve just enjoyed somebody spending this much time with them.
PATTY: Uh huh. And it is, you know, if you get media to talk to you; I’ve had people come out to interview me and I’ve interviewed with them for 45 minutes and there’s been 3 words.
TODD: Definitely. I mean we could do a show every day for the rest of our lives and we will never, never finish…
PATTY: Never get everybody.
TODD: …and when you look at it that way, it hurts. But then I look at bringing people like you and let’s take this case and make it an example, and all our listeners here, and hopefully they’ll all get some type of blessing from it in some way, and apply it to their own situation, just anything, because you can’t get everybody. It’s not because you don’t care, you just can’t; it’s not possible.
PATTY: Actually after we talked a little bit, I looked at a couple of things that I wanted to talk about and Todd, jokingly, asked me if I could tell him, and I said, “Don’t ask me any hard questions,” because this is a last-minute deal here, and he said, “Okay, I’m just going to ask you like how many missing children are there right now.” And we got to laugh, but I said, “Too many,” and I’ve noticed this before, the last…any kind of research that was compiled about missing children…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …the last thing that was published was probably since 2002, and that research that was done for that study, was done in 1999.
ERIC: Oh, wow.
TODD: It’s not easy to get statistical data.
PATTY: Well, the more I look, there are things like you really can’t do kidnappings because the FBI doesn’t keep track of that, and I think that we’re seriously lacking…that standard seems to be, there’s a missing child every 40 seconds…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …but to actually dig down into it and find some data, you cannot do it. You can’t. The data we have, you know, it’s 2007…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …it’s almost 10 years old, and that was before everybody had a computer.
TODD: You know it’s not all-inclusive. I get a huge document monthly from FBI NCIC that has statistical data, but it’s not all-inclusive, and you hate to give information quoting specific numbers without saying ‘but’.
PATTY: Exactly. If people ask me, “Well, how many missing kids are there right now?” I have to say, “I can’t tell you,” because how many kids are missing, how many have been reported to the police, how many have not been reported to the police? How many have been returned and the information never got updated?
TODD: And that happens…a lot.
PATTY: Oh that happens and that’s kind of the reason that ‘Four The Kids’ only puts…the only children’s pictures we put on our website are the cases that we’re actively working, because we have a great news director person who is on our Yahoo list and probably sends out 20 emails a day. He sends out all the missing-child news he can gather up, every Amber Alert, you know if people are interested in that, there’s more information on our website about how to join the group, but if we were to try to keep our website up with that, you’d have to have 10 full-time people to do that.
TODD: Or the Library of Congress because there’s so much data in there, it would just be unreal.
PATTY: You can’t do it, so I’m sure people look at our website and say, “Well, you don’t have many pictures there,” and that is the reason why. We like to make sure that any pictures we have up there are current.
TODD: Well at the Doe Network, we’re in a constant state…you know we have a lot of volunteers that work in each state, and we’re in a constant state of validation, and I think that’s our biggest labor now is validating a case, and that’s just pretty much saying that we’re checking to make sure that this case is still open and active and has not been resolved. You know we do a check and it’s just stirring the pot constantly.
PATTY: Even there, because I am the Nebraska area director for Doe Network…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …we’ve got some cases that are pretty old and nobody knows anything about.
TODD: And that is so true. I’ve called people and I’ve had them tell me, “We don’t have any unidentifieds,” and I’ve thought, “Well, yeah, you do. I assure you you’ve got an unidentified case.”
TODD: And it’s crazy but I’ve got some statistics from the year-end tabulation from the FBI NCIC for missing persons, and I like that one because it’s a year-end type thing, and you know it’s constantly in flux, but as of December 31st, 2006, there were 110,484 missing persons, children and adults, listed as missing, and there were 6,208 unidentified persons listed and that’s a lot of people.
PATTY: It is.
ERIC: It really is.
TODD: You’re talking about small cities.
TODD: And that’s not all-inclusive. From what we’re able to learn, there are probably over 40,000 unidentified bodies.
PATTY: Oh, I’m sure. In Nebraska, I happen to be particularly fortunate to live in this state, you know, if anybody dies from anything that’s not natural causes, it’s in the newspaper here.
TODD: Oh yeah, but is there a big population in Nebraska? I know you have the big city of Omaha but you’ve got a lot of…
PATTY: Oh, there are tons of little towns. The town I grew up in has 40 people in it. (Laughs)
ERIC: Forty thousand, right?
PATTY: No, 40.
TODD: Forty people.
PATTY: And we kind of lived on the outskirts.
TODD: We call that a family reunion here.
PATTY: Actually a cousin and I worked on ranches for years and I’ve lived some places in Nebraska where I had to drive 50 miles to buy groceries.
TODD: You got out of there though?
ERIC: I need to ask the both of you a question because I’ve noticed that even here in Elyria, Ohio, on my way to work every morning I see this little boy and little girl that are tramping up the street on their way to school with their little backpacks on. The problem that I have with that is that I feel like there should be a parent, a grownup, an adult out there with them walking to and from school. I mean, because we just got 6 inches (of snow) down here and this morning when I was leaving for work, these little kids are walking up the street going to school. How do you make…and I can’t say parents, but I want to say, neighborhoods aware that they need to start looking out for their children?
PATTY: You know I think that, and I haven’t heard much about this for a long time, they used to do that McGruff deal…
TODD: The Crime Dog, yeah. http://www.mcgruff.org
PATTY: Yeah, where people would have pictures of McGruff on their doors for kids to know that that was a safe house to run to, and I think some type of program like that needs to go back into effect. You know, I don’t know how far these kids are walking; I don’t know how many blocks they have to walk to school, but I would be leery now, even in a small town, of letting my kids walk more than…farther than I could see them.
ERIC: Well, you know something…the reason I didn’t say, “Let’s go and talk to the parents,” because you have such a large population of young parents who simply don’t care.
ERIC: You know? So that’s why I’m saying how do you make the neighborhood aware because I believe that every neighborhood has got a predator living in it; if not one, then at least five.
PATTY: Oh yeah, it’s scary when you look at that. I would say that a prime place to discuss that would be is if the neighborhood has a neighborhood watch, you know.
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: If you could get together a group like that and talk to them, but the problem is, these days everybody works.
PATTY: Nobody is home anymore.
TODD: When I was growing up, most of the…a lot of the mothers were stay-at-home moms.
PATTY: Everybody’s mom was home.
TODD: And now, nobody is.
TODD: Except the grandmothers.
PATTY: Yeah, and most of them are working too.
ERIC: It’s true.
PATTY: It is really a difficult problem. You know it would be good if you could get people together and say, “Okay, today will be my turn to watch the kids or take the kids to school,” and maybe you could have one day a week where you went to work a few minutes late.
TODD: Well, I know people that have tried that and there’s always the one deadbeat that messes it up for everybody, that makes everybody want to stop. They said, “Well, the kids are there, I’ll be a little later. I’ll run here first and I’ll run there first,” and they use it as a babysitting service…
TODD: …and it messes it up for everybody, because I know people that have dissolved friendships over that very thing, because they take advantage of each other.
PATTY: On the other hand, I kind of feel that I know that things are a lot scarier than they used to be, because when I was a kid, we would roam all day…
PATTY: …and nobody knew where we were, and I kind of feel like a little bit that because of all the media stuff, we’re kind of taking our kids independence away a little bit, just because somebody has to be with them every second. And I think that if you lived close enough to the school, like I said, I would be leery of letting my kids go if I couldn’t see them, you know, until they got to school or got to the bus or whatever.
TODD: Well, I can see the high school from my back door and my older son will walk home from school but unless he had a cell phone on him, and I’m usually talking to him at some point in his walk home, and there’s a back street on the way home and it’s right by the factory where I actually have worked, it is easy, you know everybody. So I know exactly where he’s at, but still, if he didn’t have a cell phone, I wouldn’t let him do it.
TODD: There’s no way, unless I can contact him and tell him, “Call me when you’re on your way home,” and he’ll let me know and usually I’m heading the same way and I’ll pick him up along the way, so we’re really familiar with that route. But I was really protected growing up, you know I wasn’t allowed to plug a plug in until I was about 16 years old.
TODD: I’m serious. And a lot of people I knew, like you said, they roamed all day long, you know I couldn’t, they wouldn’t let me. I was really, really sheltered. Maybe it made me be a little more aware of things because it just scares me to death to think of somebody gone all day long and not knowing where they are at.
PATTY: Yeah. Well, you know, where I grew up, if I was gone all day, it was probably because I was out working with cattle or something. (Laughs)
TODD: Well, I didn’t do any of that. You know a lot of people…I did the ’48 Hours’ interview back in 1998, with the Tent Girl, and I watched it after they taped it, and I watched it, and they said, “That of all places a farmboy in Tennessee…” and I thought, “Farmboy? I’ve never even milked a chicken.” (Laughter) I mean, really, we’re suburb; I’ve never been in contact with a cow other than seeing them in a pasture as you pass by, but I’m far from a farmboy. Not that there’s nothing wrong with being a farmboy, but they would laugh at me on a farm because I can’t do anything, but they had it so set in the mind that, “you’re a farmboy.”
TODD: Well, I have a newspaper here from the ‘Florida Sun-Sentinel’ that’s actually the December 30th, (2006), edition; a friend of mine, Sofia Santana is a writer there, and we talked for a long time about doing this article, and I got to make a few comments in it. We’re on the front page with Sadam Hussein…
TODD: …so that’s…’Dead, Buried and Forgotten’. It’s Broward County, and Broward County is huge, there are a lot of big cities in that county. There are 96 dead and unidentified bodies in Broward County…that they know of, and 42 of these are not in the NCIC. And we know they’re there; they’re listed with the agency, but 42, nearly half of them are not with the NCIC, and really can’t find a reason why. We’ve never been able to find somebody who can tell us why.
PATTY: Why they weren’t there?
TODD: Yeah. Even now, it’s like, “Well could somebody please, you know, if you’ve got a good reason,” but nobody was really ever able to make a comment on that.
PATTY: No. And I don’t know that…this is my opinion, but on our website, we have put a form on for law enforcement to fill out…
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: …you know if they want to help with a case, and our director of investigations was in Omaha in October, he came here to speak at a seminar put on by the Fox Valley College people, it was something that another missing person organization had got together to have these people come here and it was training for how to find a missing adult. A lot of it involved how to fill out that NCIC form, and one of the officers said to Roy, he said, “Your form is so easy.” (Laughs) He said that it takes them so long to fill out that NCIC form, he said it’s just pages and pages of stuff that you have to go through and, like I said, this is my personal opinion, but I don’t know how big of a drawback that is, but it was mentioned several times in this seminar about how difficult it is to fill all that paperwork out.
TODD: In fact, I’ve met a lot of people that don’t know how. So it is difficult, you know, we always advocate for the use of the FBI NCIC, but I’d like to challenge them as well to simplify some of their forms because it a monster.
PATTY: Well, exactly. And with us working with missing children, you know we kind of have a one-up on that because it’s a federal law that if your child is reported missing, they have to put that information immediately into the NCIC database, so that gives the missing children a one-up on anybody else, because sometimes those other things just lay there for weeks.
TODD: Well in small-town cases, it might quite honestly be the first time they’ve entered anything into the NCIC.
TODD: You know I’ve had that before and I found that I’ve got more experience doing this than they do.
TODD: And a lot of them aren’t going to admit that they don’t know how.
PATTY: Well, and a lot of them don’t know how to conduct the investigation.
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: I mean we’ve talked to people…we had a case in Iowa where a father abducted two kids and the mother had contacted us and Roy had gone through everything that he could and he called the police station to talk to the detective in charge, and he was rattling off, “Well I know this, this and this,” and he was like, “Excuse me sir, but how do you know that?” (Laughs)
TODD: Well, this is Roy Cantrell, he’s director of investigations with ‘Four The Kids.’
PATTY: Yeah. And he said, “I’ve looked it up.” And the detective said, “Well, you can’t go that.”
PATTY: Roy said, “Listen, you have a kidnapping case. You can do anything you want; you’re the law enforcement officers,” and he walked them the entire, you know, “This is how you find this information and this is how you find this information.” He spent 2 hours on the phone with them going through everything, telling them, “You need to get on the credit card,” and just walking them through the whole thing because they don’t know.
ERIC: They were receptive with all of this?
PATTY: Yes. Yeah, actually, most small-town law enforcement agencies are very receptive.
TODD: And they’re getting more and more receptive now. I’ve probably gotten 3 calls today from different law enforcement agencies to discuss a specific question about their state in particular. It’s just very encouraging to hear them call and especially from the media, quite a bit of media will call and are just looking for another phone number of how to contact this person or, “We have this person; what would you suggest?” and it’s just so encouraging to see people working together like that.
PATTY: Yeah, and I believe that, even here, this week actually, I made a phone call because we had a girl that was missing for a week and we had an offer for someone who wanted to bring in some search dogs, so I called law enforcement, and this is the same place I had called previously and really gotten a cold shoulder, and they have changed staff there and they said, “Oh, we didn’t know we had a resource like this here in town.”
TODD: But it depends on who you get on the line too, it all depends because I made a second call to a place and it’s just a whole new ball game, completely.
TODD: You have people that didn’t really spend any time to know who you are, why you are, and they probably hear from every nut in the book.
PATTY: Oh yeah.
TODD: And then you get somebody that maybe saw something in the newspaper, and you know that helps every time we do a show like this and get somebody’s name out there and it lends a little bit of credibility. They’re going to know, “Okay, Patty Beeken is for real. If she calls you, she really does this,” and it makes it easier for people to accept that kind of help. And we’re not here to try to show them up or say that we can do it better than you can, you know we’re offering a resource for them, a way to help, because we know it’s overwhelming.
PATTY: Well, and that is our whole plan for the investigators team that we have; we have a team of private investigators that volunteer their time, and they’re there simply to help law enforcement. We get in contact with law enforcement and say, “What do you want us to do? Can we get flyers out for you? If you don’t have time to look into this, why not let us?” And after they’ve worked with us for a little bit, usually they start coming around and say, “Wow, these people can really help,” so then they…
TODD: They’ll call you.
TODD: Well, as lacking as they sometimes seem to be, and you can have a lot of criticism for law enforcement at times, but you have to think what they’re up against and they’re coming around with it and they’re beginning to ask and look for help.
PATTY: Yeah, if nothing else has come out of this, I think that there’s such an outcry now about them getting on things and getting them done faster. I think that they’re also publicly, media-wise, I think that that’s another incentive and if they have another resource they can use, they will use it.
TODD: Well, once they find a credible resource, they will use it again.
PATTY: Uh huh.
ERIC: Let me ask you this; is law enforcement across the country able to go to one central place and dig up information?
PATTY: Well it depends on what kind.
TODD: Well, you know there’s Doe Network for unidentified bodies. Of course we link to just about every law enforcement organizations that exist, missing and unidentified. And even the Missing Pieces website, we have got an archive on the ‘Links’ page to just about everybody you could possibly imagine.
PATTY: I was surprised when Roy went to that seminar here in town and they started to talk about Doe Network and none of the officers in town here knew what that was.
TODD: “So where have you been? Are you under a rock, or what?” You know I’ve actually been in a conversation in places and people didn’t know I was involved in it and they would be talking about it and they’d mentioned and I’d have to say, “Well, yeah, I kind of know about that.”
PATTY: But I was kind of amazed by this because this was a seminar in how to find missing adults. If it had been missing children, I wouldn’t have been so surprised.
TODD: Uh huh.
PATTY: Of course they all went, “Well, who’s the Nebraska person?” (Laughs)
TODD: Did you raise your hand?
PATTY: I didn’t, no, but Roy did.
TODD: Well I’m sure he filled them in.
PATTY: Oh yeah. He said, “Well, they all know your name now.” I think that a lot of times they don’t think to look at outside sources either until they’ve actually had somebody help them.
TODD: Well, they’re not used to having a resource that doesn’t cost something.
PATTY: Yeah. Exactly.
TODD: And I see in this article where they’re talking about millions and millions of dollars to get to look for missing persons and unidentified persons, and I thought, for the most part, most of us are doing this on a voluntary basis.
TODD: I know you, Patty, she’s 100% volunteer with this type of stuff and there are a lot of good people doing a lot of time.
TODD: A lot of people.
PATTY: You know there is nobody in our organization; we don’t get paid, we pay. (Laughs)
TODD: Yeah, the Doe Network too, you know we have to fund things; you actually pay for the privilege of being on board, on staff.
TODD: And to me that’s showing more dedication; you’re trying. But a lot of times if the resources are cut off, they’re done.
PATTY: Yeah, exactly. Well, you know, I’ve run into that. We’ve been trying to work with a case here in town and we had an offer that someone would come in and do something, but they’d have to pay for their airplane tickets and they said, “We don’t have the money,” you know.
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: This was like an older person and we just kind of got into it with them because they knew we had some resources and we had an offer for this and they said, “Well, we have used all of our budget on this case on other things and we don’t have the money.”
TODD: Have you seen police officers dip into their pockets? I have seen it. I’ve seen it happen.
PATTY: I believe they would if they could.
TODD: And their time, you know, I’ve had them call me back way after hours and there are some that will not call you back way after hours, and you think, “Well I’m spending my time doing this,” and you’d think they would reciprocate. Eric, have you got anything else for her since we’ve got her here?
ERIC: You know something, Patty? I’ve enjoyed this re-visit with you. I do want to say one thing, since we have done our first broadcast, I’ve even had an opportunity to talk to my children and my grandchildren, and I’ve got one grandson, I’ll tell you what, he can take things to a new level when it comes to being paranoid.
ERIC: And he almost put me off from really wanting to talk to him, because he is so innocent, and his life is filled with play and he just doesn’t have an idea of the real world that’s around him, and I don’t want to make him really look around every corner, and every person he sees looking at him, I don’t want him to think, “Gee, they’re getting ready to snatch me…”
ERIC: …how do you approach a child like that?
PATTY: I kind of have a story about that because my two younger girls grew up living in a really small town and when Jessica was in 2nd or 3rd Grade and Leslie was in Kindergarten, we moved to North Platte, which is not a huge town, at that time it was 24,000 people, and their grandmother had those kids so scared. We lived 2 blocks from the school and when Jessica would leave in the morning, she would run all the way to school, and she would run all the way home. She was crying for the first two weeks, you know.
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: Because her grandmother had just had a fit because we were moving to a big town and somebody was going to snatch them off the street, and I finally said to her, and of course this is before I had anything to do with missing children, I said, “Jessica, it’s obvious to me that no one is going to get you in their car.” (Laughs)
TODD: (Laughs also)
PATTY: And I think that we do need to be careful but I think that you might want to approach that by…I don’t know if the school offers any training, and that’s something that we’ve been trying to do is go out into the schools and show this ‘Escape School’ video and talk to kids about how to handle it, and I think that if it was approached that way, that you were doing the training…
ERIC: Uh huh.
PATTY: …and kind of made it fun to practice with them that they might not be so scared that way.
ERIC: Okay. Hey listen, both of you, I’ve got to say that the clock on the wall is saying that’s all. Patty, it’s been fun, like I said, revisiting with you and bringing you back to the show again. Todd, as always, we have a great time and an awfully informative show, and I hope everybody who listened in on this is really going to take a lot of this to heart. How many shows has it been now, Todd?
TODD: This is 21.
TODD: Can you believe it?
ERIC: Wow. We’ve come a long way.
ERIC: But anyway, I want to again thank each of you, and say goodnight.
TODD: Thank you, and goodnight everybody.
PATTY: Thanks. Goodnight.
Need to contact Patty or this organization?
Missing Kid Services, INC
3818 North 65th St
Omaha, Ne 68104