(Introduction to show begins)
ERIC MEADOWS (co-host): Good evening one and all, we want to welcome you to tonight's show, Missing Pieces, which is hosted by Todd Matthews and myself Eric Meadow's. Todd has a special guest joining him in the studio today, we want to welcome both of you, how are you?
TODD MATTHEWS (host): I'm doing great.
LAURA HOOD (guest): I'm doing fine thanks.
TODD: Tonight we have Laura Allen Hood. Are you nervous?
LAURA: A little bit.
TODD: That's OK. I've been looking forward to this for a long time.
ERIC: There's nothing to be nervous about, only the whole world is listening.
TODD: That's what I told her! (laughter) That's the good thing, the whole world listening tonight. And like other guests, she has an incredible story, she has lived a very difficult life at times.
ERIC: Before we get started I want to remind our listeners that if they would like to become a part of this show, they can dial the toll free number 866-921-2205. Go ahead Todd.
TODD: Ok - It was 28 years ago this month that Laura's brother, Tony Allen, never called or came home again, he was 16 years old (in 1978). Now (today) there over 100,000 missing persons, this is an incredible number and his case is involved in this number because he has an official missing person's report. How has this been Laura...from day one?
TODD: Big question huh?
LAURA: YES! - - I don't think there's any way to say how's it's been from day one really because...you know...some times are hard, and other times are not. Life goes on...but it's never easy when you think about it.
TODD: Well, I have known you for a long time now...and you have actually worked as a family liaison at the Doe Network, did a great job, stepped aside, and now working more closely on your brother's case with many organizations... Doe Network, CUE Center...a lot of great organizations that you work closely. I know you have said, "The years went by and life goes on.." I am reading that from an article I wrote, and I took your own words for the title..."Panic set in, and I knew I had to face the ghosts from my past". And that's what we are here to talk about...what are the ghosts from your past exactly? I know this has been an extremely difficult time for you and your family.
LAURA: Well, I think the ghosts from my past is the simple fact that he was real...he existed. And he is no longer... I can't say that I HAVE a brother, do I have a brother, or did I have a brother? I mean, is it past or present? Do I have one, or did I have one?
TODD: Like he's erased?
TODD: Just memories?
LAURA: Right, right, erased in some ways, but certainly not erased from our memories or from our family. He was a member of our family, when he was here our family was complete. He's gone...and he's missed.
TODD: Now as opposed to being dead, if you have a family member that is deceased - and we all have that, how is this fee different?
LAURA: Well, because you don't know, you don't know if - you don't know if ...someone could call you on the telephone and say that ..they're him. You don't know if he's going to come walking across the front yard. You try to maintain that hope, you want to hope, but then you have to think realistically that it is unlikely that would happen. But at the same time you maintain that hope. When someone is deceased, and you know that they are, you don't anticipate that they could walk back into your life.
TODD: This is opposed to Shari Greer, we had her last week with the story of her murdered daughter. I know what she had was very contrasting to what you have, because she doesn't know why or who did this to her child. You definitely have a different situation. How old were you when this happened?
LAURA: I was 14...he was 16, one sister was 18 and the other sister was 12. There
were 4 of us and we are all 2 years apart (in age).
TODD: Do they cope similarly?
LAURA: Uhm...I think they were more open to talk about him...and...I wasn't. I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to face it. I was really, really close to my brother...and ...it just hurt. I didn't want to talk about those things, nobody had any answers...so there was really no way to realistically cope with it.
TODD: Now things have changed for you, you took a plunge into this world on the Internet, and you're actually working with other people on other cases now...
LAURA: Oh yes...
TODD: ...sharing your knowledge, which is good and I know that is a blessing for everybody, because you have an incredible insight into this. You've met other family members, other friends that have become like family, your certainly one of my family members now. So many people have become so close because of this, and the there are missing pieces in their hearts - there are people like you help to fill up...and hopefully we are able to do some of that for you as well.
LAURA: Oh..yeah, you do, you definitely do, and there are families I stay in contact with on a pretty consistent basis who are in the same situation.
TODD: Does that help...knowing that they know - when they say, " I know how you feel"...they actually know??
LAURA: Oh yeah...I spent probably....I would say 23 or 24 years, at least, thinking that we were the only family that had ever been through this. Just a few years ago there weren't so many resources on the Internet, at least none that I had run across the (yet). It was only then did I realized that we were by far not the only family that had been through something like this
TODD: I think people are isolated, at that one point in time, you didn't see it so often and now that the Internet has brought everyone closer together, you can chat with someone daily on the opposite side of the planet and become really close to them.
TODD: Of course we are talking about how you feel about the case itself, as much as possible. I think it's really important to get your take on things and tap into your incredible knowledge, because you have kept so positive though all of this, and again I don't know how you've done it...
LAURA: I didn't do it alone.. and I'll be first to tell you, along with my sisters, had it not been for our parents, we would not have been able to do that. They are the ones that are truly extraordinary.
TODD: They kept things as normal for you as possible?
LAURA: Well they did their best too, as it wasn't normal. But they just made sure that our lives did not revolve around that event. They made sure that we still have our dance recitals, and our piano recitals, and we still played ball and we still each had our own lives...
TODD: A sense of being normal...
LAURA: ...that we were important. Right.
TODD: And the holidays, I know these were difficult times it's hard to pretend at that point that everything is normal.
TODD: Especially when so somebody so young (is gone). My oldest son is 14 and can you imagine him not being here?
LAURA: Well, a lot of what drove it home for me was the fact that my own son was getting older
TODD: When he was reaching that same age?
LAURA: yes and so many things that he and his friends would do...just teenage stuff...
TODD: You know how your parents felt more now.
TODD: You know I have said before I had rather face the end of everything, than to have to face something like my children being gone. And I don't think people realize how powerful that feeling is to actually rather not exist yourself, or even the whole world not exist...than to have to exist in it without your child. Anybody that loves their children knows exactly how that feels, when you think about them not being there. I think a lot people don't think about that because it does hurt to think about something like that.
Now the days after, I know there had to a police report filed, how was that like?
LAURA: Back when it happened, it will be hard for me to share details about that because I was so young. I didn't know a lot about that. I know that my parents were in contact with police, and he was considered by them to be a runaway. He didn't come back, and my parents would contact or go to the police department and the police would act surprised...that he was "not back yet".
TODD: Because they were so convinced he was a runaway?
TODD: And that kinda make sit hard when your thinking...(my child would not have done this)...and the police are seeing it as a runaway situation while you, in your heart, knowing that there is probably something more, darker going on.
LAURA: Well, he was know to take off with his friends....so...
TODD: That kinda smoothes it over for a while?
LAURA: Well, I wouldn't say it smoothed it over, but you at least think...well OK...maybe so...but why?? If that's the case, then why..what's going on that he would do that?
TODD: But here it is 28 years later, do you think it is still possible? (that Tony ran away)
LAURA: Well...you know...on the one hand you hope it is. Because if is was possible, it could mean that he could still out there alive and well somewhere. On the other hand you still think "I know him...we know him". It was totally out of character, even thought he might have been known to take off with his friends, it was totally out of character for him not to stay in touch.
TODD: And in this length of time there has been ample opportunity for him to have a change of heart. (since he vanished in 1978)
LAURA: Oh of course...
TODD: Eric, have you got anything (to ask) at this point?
ERIC: Yes, I do, you were talking about him taking off with his friends. Over these past years, have you continued to question his friends, concerning the disappearance, where he might be? I know initially the police probably did (question his friends). Even as you talk about a change of heart, has anybody been willing to share anything with you?
LAURA: No, initially the police did not question his friends, to my knowledge, I'll add that, not to my knowledge. But they have since (questioned his friends). And we have been real fortunate in the last few years to have a detective here in our town that has worked really hard on the case, he's worked really hard for us. And I know he's talked to several of Tony's friends, but I don't think any new information has come from that...to my knowledge.
ERIC: So none of the information from the friends was made available to the family?
LAURA: Not in the distant past, but in the more recent past we've stayed in close contact with Sgt. Holland.
ERIC: I don't mean to sound callous in this question, but I do have to ask, your parents and family have helped keep the family focused. How have they handled the case in their quite hour, how do they handle it (outside the public eye) did you ever see that?
LAURA: Oh sure...I did...we all saw it...I think every family have private moments, each individual has private moments, the family as a unit has private moments.
TODD: Of course they had to be strong for the family, because the whole remaining family are important.
LAURA: Right...well I don't make any secrets about our faith Todd, and you know that, that (faith) is what sustains us, it's what sustained us all along. It doesn't mean that we were always positive and hopeful or anything like that, (but) we try to maintain that...but we certainly have our moments.
TODD: And in contrast to what you have said in the past..."My anger and resentment did build up, I felt betrayed abandoned and angry at times.."
TODD: Angry at him? (Tony)
TODD: If he did this on purpose...those feelings are going to exist...because it has really took a lot out of you, to have to live with this, all these years.
TODD: And I know you had to get past that. Have you gotten past those feelings now?
LAURA: I definitely have, because it was when I finally admitted those feelings of anger and resentment...and feeling abandoned that I was finally able to admit that...maybe it wasn't abandonment.
TODD: It was a process, that you had to go through?
LAURA: Yeah, but what I am saying is, maybe he didn't do it willingly.
TODD: You have been through the whole range of emotions with this I'm sure.
LAURA: Absolutely, you go through the grief process, but it never ends for us because we don't know.
TODD: The original missing persons report...something happened...
TODD: What happened to those?
LAURA: Are you talking about when the records were lost?
LAURA: Whenever I learned what the NCIC was...I didn't know what that was, none of us knew what that was...
TODD: We all reach that point of discovery, when we find out what all those terms
LAURA: I learned what the NCIC was, and I knew he needed to be entered into it, and I knew I needed a copy of his missing persons report in order to get him in. So I contacted the local police department, first of all to ask them if he was (already) listed with the NCIC, because it was quite possible that had already be entered into it (NCIC)
TODD: This is the National Crime Information Center, but this was later when you did this.
LAURA: Right two or three years ago. So I checked with local police and they said they didn't have a copy of the missing person's report because those records had been blown away in a tornado, that had hit in 1996. I knew at least one, possibly two detectives had worked on the case, one in the late 1980's that I knew. So I thought there must be something in the system, so I just went on down there and ask. They (police) checked the system and he was not in the NCIC nor any computer system anywhere.That was a blow, it was kinda like saying that he didn't exist.
TODD: But now you changed all that...
TODD: Do you think there are other family members out there that are in the same shape? You felt confident up until this point in time, that he was probably listed on some file being looked for by somebody, up until this point.
TODD: Then you realized that wasn't the case.
TODD: Now that had to be a let down.
LAURA: It was a blow, a blow...
TODD: How would somebody go about doing this? What if I don't know if my family member is listed with NCIC? You certainly should approach your local law enforcement to see.
LAURA: Of definitely, that is the place to start. You need to contact them to find out if your loved one is entered into the NCIC, for sure.
TODD: And that could be the solving point, at the point in time. If your missing family member has never listed with the NCIC, it could be as simple as doing that. If they are listed as part of a related crime elsewhere, or even God forbid, they are an unidentified body somewhere, it could kick them out simply by entering their data.(into NCIC)
TODD: But that wasn't the case with Tony.
LAURA: No it wasn't, he was nowhere, there is no drivers license, there is no property ownership. The information that comes back on his social security number is the information that should come back, information that we are aware of, a job that he held when he was 16, and since then...nothing at all. It is almost as if he never existed, if I didn't have pictures and memories...sometimes I might wonder myself, because it truly is as if he disappeared off the face of the Earth.
TODD: I have this thick book that Laura has sent me a book where she has been recording information where she has done other interviews and copies of articles. I keep it with me and look at it quite a bit. I just marvel at what you have put together. You have recreated this document and shared with law enforcement to make sure they are restarted on this case. When you and I first met and started talking, I gave you something kinda unusual at the time. I gave you a list of unidentified's that was something you needed to go through to see if you could find a match for your brother. That was probably the first time that you had to go through files at that level. What was that like? Was that a point of revelation for you?
LAURA: Well...it was a point of revelation that they were listed on the Internet. That was something that we had always feared was that possibly he had died somewhere or had been killed somewhere and no one knew who he was, and therefore he might be a John Doe. But, when I got more involved with the Internet and of course when I found you through the Internet, and Doe Network, I realized that our fears were justified, and that it happens all the time. So the revelation was really that they were posted on the Internet. And that was really difficult for me at first to look through those.
TODD: I can imagine having to turn those pages.
LAURA: And the reconstructions, the bothered me a lot at first, but I got used to them.
TODD: There are over 6,000 unidentified bodies listed with the NCIC, and we know that is only 10-50% of the actual numbers. So not always have the unidentified bodies gotten into the NCIC and it's really important that they do. So I am hoping that any law enforcement or anyone close to law enforcement can encourage taking the extra step to enter those. I know that a lot of law enforcement don't have the faith in the NCIC...and I know there are problems with it at times, but if you don't use it...you shouldn't complain about it (NCIC) I really think they should use it if at all possible.
Now...Laura, there was a time, and if you get to a point where you don't want to talk about something that's fine, because we do not want to interfere with the investigation. (of Tony Allen). You thought there was a possible match with a John Doe. That was another different point in your life, how sure were you, in your heart, that was (a match for) Tony?
LAURA: Well...like just about everything else in this situation, one day your convinced it is one way...then the next day - or even the next minute, your convinced it's another way. Sometimes you just don't know what to think, it is so totally ambiguous. Really....honestly Todd...the unidentified that you are talking about was somebody that I had kept in the back of my mind. Because of the age, and the age (range) didn't match, although the physical description did match in every other way. So I just kinda kept that in the back of my mind...until...
TODD: And we can talk about that John Doe as well, and we will put his link into the archives of this show on http://www.MissingPieces.info . There people can read a bit about your brother's case and some of the other things we talk about, we'll have a list of information so that people can read a little deeper.
What state was this John Doe found?
LAURA: He was found in Texas.
TODD: What year? I know you probably have all this memorized .
LAURA: He was found in January of 1980, but he was thought to have been there for 6 to 18 months prior (to being located) ...which that time frame would have fit with my brother's disappearance.
TODD: Do you know what county in Texas?
TODD: And the age range for that body?
LAURA: I believe they gave 23-27 (years) , but when I had reason to call down there, the deputy I spoke with said that the medical examiner had determined that the person was no more than 20.
TODD: That struck a different chord in you.
LAURA: Oh it sure did.
TODD: People might not understand that there is an age range with these bodies. Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint the exact age, so they give a broad(er) age range that the victim will more likely fall into. Often due to dental information and any other information that they find to help try to pinpoint an age. It is often important to keep this range kind of wide, mostly to help keep people form ruling something out in their own mind thinking it is too old or too young (to be their loved one).
So from that point, how did they ever decide that this John Doe in Texas was not your brother?
How did this come about, when you found out this was not your brother in Texas?
LAURA: We waited on the DNA (testing).
TODD: So you had your DNA taken for this comparison?
LAURA: Well...actually had we already it (DNA) processed prior to this comparison.
TODD: Ready and waiting?
TODD: How long did this take?
LAURA: Several months for taking our DNA initially. What took a really long time was when we contacted (Texas) about these remains. They wanted to do a dental comparison with an odontologist and she was unable to rule out the match. So then they proceeded with DNA, which involved the Sheriff's Department in Matagorda County getting the remains to the lab for testing - which took a very long time.
TODD: Now what do you think this has done for that job, that even though this was not your brother?
LAURA: Well, Todd, you know, the thing is that when we waited, and waited, and waited, for months, on months, what we realized is, you know, maybe he's ours, but maybe he's not, and if he's not ours, he's somebody's. That's somebody's son, or brother, you know, and he just really worked his way into our hearts and the good thing that came out of that. Though he was not a match for Tony, or our family, but the good thing that came out of that long wait, is knowing that because we did that, that young man's DNA is now entered into CODIS, and if his family goes that route, if they choose to go that route, they'll get a match.
TODD: So, see you were able to help him after all.
TODD: And a lot of times it's so funny to talk about how an unidentified body, can become special to somebody, and it is so strange that it can happen. Especially when you're somebody like him, when you've already got holes in your heart.You know, it's so easy to attach yourself to somebody like that and you do have this sympathy and pity for them, and you think they should be with your family because you know what it feels like to be without them. There's probably somebody just like you out looking for him, which I'm sure of that.
LAURA: I'm sure of that too.
Now DNA Database. I know we talked about CODIS, but there's a national DNA Database.
Now, how much hope do you have for something like that? Now, That's a little different because I know you've got the dental records for Tony. It's got everything. You've got everything you could possibly have.
LAURA: We're very fortunate.
TODD: You've got a good portfolio, and lot of people don't have nearly as much as you have, and have had success. So I think you have all your ducks in a row, but now I think we've got to think about the other case. Now...no two remains are created equal. You Know, because it just depends on what people find to match up. Unidentified's are found at such various states and so much research goes into them for the reconstructions and the studies at the body farm where they study tissue depth, rate of decay, and I'm sure all this has become very familiar to you now. I happen to know it has. You served your time at the Doe Network so I know this is common topic in discussion. Was that hard for you? I mean I know it just becomes a daily thing for you. Talking about this, was this easy because you knew about it first hand?
LAURA: Well, with which part of it?
TODD: Just the daily talk about it.
LAURA: The Daily Talk?
TODD: Well, you went from a person who didn't want to talk about it period, to actually being so involved in it, you were up to your eyeballs in it. I remember that time period we were in it. And it's still like that for me.
LAURA: Well, yeah, it was difficult, but not impossible - It's reality. It's difficult to think about if my brother was, you know, deceased. If he died somewhere, it's really difficult to think about those processes. You know, his body going through those processes, and I pretty much don't go there (in my mind) But, yeah, it
was really hard at first, but then I got used to it. I guess, not to say that I toughened up about it or anything, but I did just face it.
TODD: Face the ghost of your past? It's amazing what a person can get used to. It doesn't mean you like it, or your welcome to it, or it doesn't hurt anymore, you're just used to that pain.
LAURA: I knew I was used to it when I would tell someone about it and they had a look of horror on their face ( Laughter ).Then I knew I was really used to it.
TODD: Yeah, I mean I've seen people that are like, "Oh my God, that happened? I can't believe it! " You know, and they're so stunned and that's why I can't imagine why more people aren't involved in this (cause). Because, the first thing I'd want to do is if I saw somebody in that type of pain, I mean intense pain, you want to stop the pain. It's just like administering first aid to somebody. If you see somebody choking, you want to help them. Essentially this is what these people are feeling, it just doesn't end. It goes on for their entire life. You want to do something to help them and it becomes a priority in your life, and you've helped other people, and I'm hoping during that period of time you, and I know you did, you saw that when some of these cases are solved - I think that helped strengthen your faith. That it is possible.
LAURA: Yes, it is, and I have seen some...
TODD: Right out of left field, huh?
LAURA: Uh-Huh, yeah.
TODD: Seen some amazing cases, and I know Eric, I can hear him thinking, he's got some ideas for you, I think. I think he's wanting to ask you some questions, we'll give him an opportunity.
ERIC: I two questions in particular. - Have there been any ongoing or continuing forensics being done to show what an aged image of Tony would look like, even up to now, you know, he'd be what? Forty-four years old?
LAURA: He would be forty-four now. We have an age progression up to forty-three.
ERIC: Oh, OK. So you continued that from year to year.
LAURA: Well, no, we didn't continue it from year to year, but Sergeant Holland from the Fort Smith Police Department, he just is very diligent in keeping up with any kind of technology or resources that, you know, can help, and he works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And in terms of, you know, with Tony's case, and so he has compiled a group of pictures, family photos and such, and he took care of getting that to the right people and it was done through the National Center. (NCMEC)
ERIC: Okay, My Second Question is: What is the cost that a family would incur, trying to find a lost loved one?
LAURA: Monetary cost?
LAURA: ...Well, you know... I don't know. I guess it would depend on what route you, which ROUTES you choose to go. Um - I mean, I have a computer. I can use it, pretty much free of charge. I think if you did a lot of mailings, or bill-boards, or bought any kind of advertising, it would really run into a ton of money. We've been very fortunate.
I know, Todd, you say that I've helped people, but I've received so much help. WE'VE received so much help. Not initially, not in the beginning, and not for a lot of years, but when this was re-opened and...you know, things, things just kind of were set in motion, and you know, we get a lot of help from organizations and Monica Caison at CUE Center, she just bends over backwards, Todd, you always have bent over backwards to help us do everything we can. The Doe Network...there are many resources available now for families that were never there before, resources that don't cost anything.
ERIC: That was question I was going to ask Todd. What resources are available today, what agencies are out there that will either do pro-bono work, or make themselves available to help someone who has a missing child and considered just a runaway...maybe not declared as actually missing.
TODD: That's a special case, those cases are harder to deal with. Especially the age, Tony was 16 years old, at the border line age where a lot of people runaway. And I think it isn't always taken seriously initially as there are so many runaways that are returned home rather quickly. It is hard to chase every person, but of course with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and so many different resources. I work with Project EDAN for age progression and reconstruction at no cost, CUE Center constantly on the prowl for any clues. Of course there's Doe Network, and these are people you need to talk to when looking for local resources, there are local resources more now than in the past. And the groups I mentioned can point you to valid local resources. They can tell you "those are good people, we have worked with them before". I would never endorse anyone that I don't know well enough, and tell you that you can put your faith in them and they will take care of you.
But you know with Tony, even if he had ran away and something happened to him a couple of years down the road, that makes the (age & size) range so hard to pin down. He was 6'1", 135 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, at age 16 - he's a tall boy...
TODD: I'm not sure he would have grown much taller, depends on his family, you have to look at a lot of different things. The physical profile would have changed, the dental record might not even be the same...a lot of things can happen.
LAURA: The records we had were from when he was really young.
TODD: So can you really put 100% faith in them? Now if something had happened to him immediately, they are a better possibility, but he was young and still evolving, so it could have been very different in time.
And I want to put this plug in here now - Sergeant Adam Holland with Ft. Smith Police Department at 479 785-4221. If anyone has any information or tips in this case, he would be the man to call.
LAURA: Right, he has direct line too, 479-709-5129, he has voice mail. You can leave as long as message as you want and he check's messages often.
TODD: I'll bet he's really happy tonight that we gave out all of his numbers. How do you think he feels, as I am sure he has saw some incredible thing's come to pass as a result of media exposure. And it is hard to do things for the media because (as media Director for Doe Network) I am constantly challenged with trying to find ways to make cases interesting enough to get the media to pick it up. At time sit is like you are trying to package a product for sale, your not really selling it, but you are saying..."Hey look at this case...it has just what you are looking for." It's really that way, unfortunately. We have to find so many ways to make them interesting...but we have see this method work, many times. How do you think Sergeant Holland feels about this type of exposure, what will he think about this show tonight...is it something he will welcome?
LAURA: I think so, definitely. He has always been really receptive, I send things his way and he sends things my way. We are very fortunate in that...
TODD: He's been very progressive, I have noted that via conversation with you, Laura. He sound's like someone that's not too proud to take a helping hand with things, if someone has information, I think he'd be glad to get it...he doesn't have to be the one to find the clue, I think he'd be happy to get the information any way he can get it.
LAURA: I think so too, and we are very fortunate. The thing is, I know there might be people sitting out there right now saying, "Well, we don't have that (relationship) with our local police, we are not that fortunate, we can't get anyone to look at our case."...but you know what...we have had it from one end of the spectrum to the other.
TODD: You have paid your dues, I know that. I know you have definitely been through the point where you didn't have somebody.
TODD: You have had to work on it, and you have encouraged people to be persistent, because it isn't going to be easy. You're not just going to walk in there and they are just going to fully cater to you. Sometimes you have to be persistent, and it does pay off.
LAURA: Just don't go away, just don't go away. Let them know that you are not going to go away, don't be a pest, don't cause them to dread seeing you come in...
TODD: Let them know you are not going to go away...
LAURA: Let them know that it is important, it matters, you need their help and you appreciate their help. You have to build it, you have to build that relationship.
TODD: It certainly takes time, sometimes years. I know I have been the pesky fly in the past and sometimes I still am. But you do finally build up a level of communication with people. I have seen law enforcement come and go, same with media. I have seen new reporters sign on and then off to a new station, and often they become a new contact for the area they move into. I know have a good contact in Salt Lake City, Utah, that originally in the Nashville market very near here. The first thing he did when he got there, he made contact with me again and ask for statistic information for the Salt Lake City area. So a seed was planted and he did not forget. I think you are going to find that a lot more now, reporters are very interested. You find some that are looking for the scoop, and you find some that actually want to do something to help, not just tell your story. That's part of why we are doing this show, we don't want to just tell your story and then you go away, this is to help you put something together, so people can hear your voice and understand your case. And hopefully other people in similar situations will be able to learn from it. I have learned a lot doing this, even knowing much of the information already, I have learned so much in doing this show...just from hearing the voice of the people telling their story.
Your Mom, how's your Mom?
LAURA: My Mom and Dad both are doing well. You're aware of some of the things that have going on recently in our family. We have had a tragic death, actually two deaths, a premature birth...lot's of things going on....
TODD: But you keep going.
LAURA: We keep going.
TODD: You have too, less than one hour before this show last week, I got word that a friend and coworker had died from cancer. We knew he was dying, I even took my children to meet him for the first time. We got to say our goodbye's. But, I got the news of his passing right before the show and I knew it was going to be hard to do the show that day. But in thinking, it gave me the strength to go on..I knew I had to. This friend always ask me, whenever I saw him in the past, "What have you come up with..what new in your latest case?" He didn't always understand what he was listening to, but he always ask...and that is what I'll always remember about him. And I am hoping that wherever he went to, I am hoping he took a seed with him. You just have to have faith in those things, and hopefully the message was passed along.
I know your mom has been particularly close to you, her children are grown now, and I kind of communicate to her through you at times. I can't wait to meet her, and your Dad too. Hopefully I get to do this latee on fall. I am ready to meet you guys in person, but I feel like I've known you forever. Now, the other stories you've worked on, the other interviews, how hard was it to start that?
LAURA: Oh my gosh, it was awful! It was just awful. Everyone who knows me, knows that when I began talking about it, and especially with any kind of interview, from any kind of media, I just completely wigged out.
TODD: And knowing you, that's something I just have to laugh at because I know you. It was an unusual experience for you, I think.
LAURA: Well, I didn't like it. I still don't like it, but I appreciate it.
TODD: A necessary thing.
TODD: You really had to brave some things to actually get to the point where this was easier, and it helps when you know what you're talking about. (Laughter)
LAURA: Well, it's not easy. It's still not easy for me, but it is easier.
TODD: That's why I wanted to keep this one so conversational, where you'd almost forget it, just like we were talking on the phone. This is just exactly like some of the long conversations we've had on the phone, and I've thought so many times, "I wish I could've recorded that." With yours and so many others, I've thought "If I just would've recorded that conversation", there was such information in that, if other people could've heard it, I think it would've touched their heart to have heard this family member talk about this.
LAURA: What a library you would have...
TODD: Oh, wow! I don't know if I'd have enough space to store it. With just this book of yours, it's huge with what you've got in it. These disks, and you've done an incredible job and we've locked Eric out again here and we need to let him talk.
Eric: No, you guys are doing fine. Laura, I believe I heard Todd ay that you worked with the Doe Network, tell me what is it like, when you can see that you helped add closure to somebody's life. By helping to identify and reunite an unidentified with a family, or even if someone thought of as deceased being found alive. What is it like to see that success, what is it like for you?
LAURA: Oh my gosh its uh well, no, no I do not ever think that I am thrilled absolutely thrilled anytime anybody get any answers about their loved ones.
TODD: Reinforced your hope.
LAURA: Well it does it reinforces our hope but and it also make us realize that you know it may never be for us to have answers, I mean that may never be in the cards that we are dealt. We may never get those answers. I am so thrilled to know when somebody else does. I hope we do, I hope we get those answers but up you know I am thinking of two particular cases right now and one went from thrilled they have been reunited and a sadness that didn't last. The family members you know once other family members chose not to resume the relationship. In another case it was someone from another country and he was actually found here in the United Stated and when I reunited those family members there had been a misunderstanding and the person who was you know thought to be missing in the United States was...I think basically ashamed and afraid to return to his family, but once he knew, that his family, and fortunately his family had the means to get on a plane and come straight over here and locate him and it was just a you know a wonderful reunion. and uh, yeah, That was a complete thrill for me.
TODD: Do you ever think that could happen to you? Just a misunderstanding? (in Tony's case)
LAURA: Oh sure.
TODD: That's dreams that people like you have, you know when you have just a misunderstanding maybe just a bad dream it will all just be over and everything can just be fine.
LAURA: Yeah, I wish that would happen maybe that could be a possibility sometimes they just get afraid and I think. You know if somebody did this willingly. What kind of person would they be?
TODD: Yeah, your afraid what would you talk about with this person if they did come back in your life I wish he would I hope he can. You know then you can ask him these questions and put all of this behind you. Do you think now, your husband, what have you put this guy through?
LAURA: Sheer joy. He just loves it. (Laughing)
TODD: Of course he does. (Laughing)
LAURA: No, He has been very supportive. Very.
TODD: It's not easy. I know it hasn't been an easy task for him. He has probably been though a lot. I never really talked to him personally. But I can imagine seeing from my own life at time. He's probably had a rough road at times. It is absorbing at time. I know you have worked really hard to make your life normal. I know you have.
ERIC: We have a caller.
CALLER: Often after a person goes missing, and flyers have been hung asking for information. Were there any reports or sighting of your brother?
LAURA: Well actually there's only one that I know of. and it was not him. Once the age progression was released. Somebody called the national center thinking that it was someone who lived in a nearby town. It was not him. Other than that there has been nothing, zero.
TODD: Just waiting for the day, you think.
LAURA: Well, you know, I don't really know exactly how much information or anything. A few of the friends that were close to the family. THey tried to help all they could. I do believe that there are other friends out there that you know could help and have not done so voluntarily anyway.
TODD: I know you went through all the rumors and possibilities in your mind. Do you communicate with any of his friends now?
LAURA: Oh, Not too much. Like I said, there is a couple of them that we have been in contact with, we had lunch about a year ago with one of them and his mom and that was nice trying to connect to somebody that knew him. To be honest, you know we have been pretty fortunate in the fact that there haven't been a whole lot of false leads or anything like that we do not get many phone calls or letters or anybody I mean that has happened. Sgt. Holland, once again I bring him up had done an excellent job of shielding our family from some of that. We have been really fortunate in that way. The unfortunate is that nothing else comes in. I know we live in a very friendly part of the country. Maybe Somebody is afraid they will hurt our feelings, or they will shed a negative light. The way we see it is that we just want to know. So, we just encourage anybody that has any information to let us know. They can contact the National Center. There are different things they can do so basically there is no new information after all the hard work we do not have anything. Again it is like he never existed.
TODD: You can call the center at "1-800-the lost" at any point in time. It's a quick route to get information back to Sgt. Holland. People should check out their web site. It's a quick route to get the information back
ERIC: I just want to see if our caller has any more questions
CALLER: No I do not have anymore questions, but I'd like to let her know that she's in our prayers.
LAURA: Thank you very much.
ERIC: Thank you for calling.
TODD: Good to get calls like that.
LAURA: It is, we really appreciate that. We love prayers we take them all.
TODD: That, you have no problems with, right?
TODD: Eric, do you have anything else?
ERIC: This show is the only show that we have on the air that tugs at the heart strings, it spends a lot of time talking about other people and the things that they go through, and those of us who never even thought about something like this. I kinda hope that a lot of the younger people are listening, those that are considering running away from home, thinking the grass is greener somewhere else. It makes me really glad that I did not succeed in running away from home. I wanted to drop off of the radar, live my own life. Oh my God what jeopardy I would have put myself into, simply because I only wanted to see what I thought benefited me
LAURA: Well, not only in the case of the runaway. That's yet to be determined in Tony's case, but just running with the wrong crowd.
TODD: Foul play is possible.
LAURA: In the wrong place at the wrong time.
TODD: He could've been a runaway even if something else happened at a later point in time. Makes it really hard to track this case. So Tony's information with be posted on the web-site ( www.MissingPieces.info)as well as the Texas John Doe information, hopefully Laura will be able to continue to help this person who has become special to her as well.
Laura's contact info will also be listed and I am sure she would love to hear from some people and get more prayers.
What are your plans for the future, Laura? Not going to give up?
LAURA: I am not going to give, we have talked about some things before, how you have to really work sometimes to balance life. My parents, my sisters and myself...our children, we are not just all about having a missing loved one. We do have full and rich lives, and we are very blessed, we are very fortunate to have been able to enjoy a good life, in spite of difficult circumstances. As far as what I will continue to do is to just use the resources that I have been given and blessed with. And help others....when I know that I have done everything I can do, then I will rest. Sometimes I do try to have a rest when in a period of time when nothing is happening, no news coming in, and I just continue on my daily life. Then things will pick up and it's like bam, bam, bam. I'll have people contacting me and I am contacting other people in regards to something. So I don't really have any solid plans other than taking care of my family, being who I am and doing what I can.
TODD: A smart lady once said, "There's no protocol for this situation"....it was you. I remember you said that to me. "There's no right way to respond to this kind of crisis, but after almost a life time of experience, I know there are compassionate people who truly care and want to help." I know that's got to be something that changed everything for you.
LAURA: It's does...and everyone needs to know that they are not alone. They also need to know there are people out there than can help, even thought they might not be in their shoes...they still care. There are those who exploit,but there are a lot of good people out there willing to help.
TODD: Laura and I can easily chat on the phone for three hours. We can easy get on another tangent and talk for a really long time. We did want to get her basic information about her brother's case. and I think we need to have her back to check on her progress and see what she has encountered. I certainly hope this radio show has helped some and that everyone will take a look at the web-site and your information, sending some positive energy in your direction.
LAURA: Thanks for the opportunity.
ERIC: Laura I'd like to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to talk about something that is really deep with you and your family. I know it must take a lot out of you to go over this again. That is what this show is designed for, to help bring closure to somebody's life. Maybe one day one of our listeners will call in a tip that will help somebody.
LAURA: I hope so...
ERIC: We hope to help provide a resource and conduit that actually helps to generate information to the right people. And I want to thank you for being on tonight, and Todd I want to thank you again for bring on another interesting guest to our show. Maybe we can have someone on the show like Sergeant Holland and see what his views and experience are like. We definitely want to hear progress on this case and all the others. Good night to all.
TODD: Good night to all, God Bless.
LAURA: Good night, thank you.
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You may email Laura Allen Hood (sister of Tony Allen) directly at
Texas John Doe once thought to be a match for Tony - ruled out via DNA