In an unprecedented rise of disappearances, Ohio has seen nearly double the number of runaway and missing children this year compared to states with similar populations. With 45 children reported missing in the Cleveland area since September alone, police and concerned parents are struggling to cope with the surge. So far, over one thousand have vanished and Ohio police are baffled.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost expressed his fear of the visible local and data reporting shortcomings that are resulting in the silent “crimes happening right under our noses,” with the cases not meeting the current criteria for an Amber Alert.
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy said in the 33 years of his career, he has never seen numbers this high, adding, “For some reason, in 2023, we’ve seen a lot more than we normally see, which is troubling in part because we don’t know what’s going on with some of these kids.”
Sherice Snoden highlighted the heartache of many parents speaking at a community search for her 15-year-old son, “It’s been over forty days without my child. I just want him back home. I miss my child everyday, I am worried I don’t know if he is eating or sleeping. I just want him back home.”
Majoy believes the majority of these cases involve teens running away, but is concerned that they are being drawn into activities such as gang activity or even trafficking.
The University of Toledo is now hard at work attempting to improve the state’s data collection and reporting systems. Yost said, “We rely on the people, the population because we have 11.7 million pairs of eyes out there that can keep an eye out.”
The missing include 14-year-old Gideon Hefner, 17-year-old Camryn Nicole Golias, 16-year-old Elijah Hill, 17-year-old Iyahna Graham and 16-year-old Honesty Howell.
While Majoy praised the public for their assistance, he noted the need for more police officers on the streets to keep up with the demand of anxious parents.
The families of those missing continue to suffer and ask for the same thing – their child back home safe. In the meantime, experts advise that the community stay vigilant as unexplainable numbers of missing children appear to be on the rise in Ohio.