Grassroots group seeks
to build awareness of missing persons
By Ra'Vae Edwards
Two Mid-Missouri women who share a common bond - both have daughters who are missing - have formed an organization to help others in situations similar to theirs.
Missouri Missing still is in its beginning stages, but Peggy Florence and Marianne Asher-Chapman (Episode 63 Guest) say they are dedicated to creating awareness about missing person's cases.
Since Florence's daughter, Jasmine Haslag, disappeared, she's worked with Chapman to build an organization geared to help families in a multitude of ways.
"One of the main things I want this organization to do is to provide support for those who are going through this," Florence said. "Before Jasmine went missing, I never thought about missing persons or how serious it is. And I think that is true with a lot of people. Unless it happens to you, you don't think about it."
Creating awareness and providing education about missing persons in Missouri are key to helping solve many of the cases, Chapman said.
"We need to create awareness as to the extent of the seriousness of missing persons," Chapman said. "The first 24 to 48 hours after a person goes missing is very crucial.
"But if that person is an adult, we make the assumption they have just left, and that isn't always the case. Each case should be dealt with individually, based on that person's history."
Chapman's daughter, Michelle "Angie" Yarnell, has been missing since Oct. 25, 2003. Since her disappearance, Chapman has made appearances on the Montel Williams Show and her daughter's case has been mentioned on several nationally syndicated shows.
"Each missing-persons case should be dealt with as serious as possible," Florence said. "We know that there have been a lot of adults who go missing and then return after they were just in hiding because they were mad or whatever, but not every case is like that.
"If you look at the statistics right now, there are more than 800 persons in Missouri who are missing. Those people are someone's daughter, mother, brother, father, sister and in some cases, grandparents. Improvements need to be made, and that is one of the many things Missouri Missing will be working on."
Overnight results are not expected, Florence and Chapman agree, but it is not something either of them plan on giving up.
"I will never quit looking for my daughter," Chapman said. "And I feel very strongly about this organization. I don't want to see other people go through what we have been through and if there is anything we can do to help, we certainly will."
Chapman and Florence are scheduled to meet with state legislators and members of the Missouri Highway Patrol on Tuesday at the Capitol to discuss changes in legislation.