‘It’s A Very Lonely Thing’: Missing Persons Families Search For Answers

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)– Local, state, and national agencies teamed up Saturday for an event offering services to the friends and families of hundreds of missing persons across Colorado.

Non-profit volunteers and law enforcement officers set up resource booths at the event, located at the Lowry Conference Center near Yosemite & 11th.

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The Colorado Bureau of Investigation hosted the second annual missing persons event to check in on the cases of missing children and adults and to make sure that agencies have all the information they need to do their jobs.

“This is my son, Robert Pillsen-Rahier,” said Jean Langness, a mother attending the event as she held up a flyer with a picture of her son Bobby, 15, who disappeared from Colorado Springs 27 years ago.

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“As of today, he’s been missing 9,898 days,” Langness told CBS4 photojournalist Robert Gajdecki.

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“On a daily basis, it’s a very lonely thing to go through,” said Laura Saxton, whose daughter, Kelsie, went missing in 2013.

Kelsie Schelling, 21, disappeared after she traveled to Pueblo to visit the father of her unborn child.

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Kelsie Schelling with her mother Laura Saxton (credit: CBS)

“She never leaves my thoughts,” Saxton told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “We can come here (to the event) and talk about our family members as much as we want. And it’s not taboo. We can cry, we can talk, we can do whatever we want, and we’re accepted and not judged.”

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“Our hope is to continue to raise awareness, and to let families know even if they’re not here, that we’re still dedicated to bringing these cases to closure or resolution,” said Audrey Simkins, a supervisory analyst at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

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If we can’t locate the individuals alive, which is something that we’re talking about today, in the way of collecting dental information, medical information, collecting buccal swabs from family members, so that that way at least if their loved ones traveled out of state and we’re looking to identify remains now, that maybe we can do that,” Simkins said.

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The latest statistics from the CBI show 527 people in Colorado have been missing for more than a year. Of those, 344 people have been missing for more than three years, and 215 have been missing for more than 10 years.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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