Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A 5-year-old girl named Kelsey Brooke Jones is missing from her Minnesota home.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
Origins: This "missing child alert" began circulating on the Internet on
We don't know whether the distraught mother authored the Internet appeal attributed to her or not. (It appears she did, but some doubt remains.) Even more uncertain is who wrote the
The important thing to keep in mind is this: Don't forward the appeal. The child isn't now missing, nor was she ever abducted.
According to the Faribault Minnesota police, an officer took a missing child report at the Wolkenhauer home at
After speaking with the mother and jotting down the particulars, the officer assigned to the case found Kelsey within minutes by knocking on doors in the housing complex. No report was filed with the National Crime Information Center because the child had never been missing.
How this appeal got onto the Internet is a mystery. If the mother wrote it, she must have dispatched it between the time she called the police and the officer's arrival, but the
Internet datestamping discrepancies could account for an
I received this message from Kelsey's Mom, Amy,
We did not get this letter that she sent out on
Praise God for His faithfulness,
Hi! I cut and pasted the letter I sent out to everyone on my list
~~~~~~~~~ Hello Everyone!
I am taking this time to say first THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! For your concern, all your prayers, and forwarding the message about Kelsey onto everyone. I have received unbelievable amounts of email from people all over. There are truly many wonderful and caring people out there!
Let me tell you the wonderful news, today the police brought me my baby back! In truth, God brought her back safely to me. I believe in the power of prayer and I appreciate the hundreds of prayers that all of you said for Kelsey.
She was taken from the public library yesterday while her preschool class was visiting it. She is unharmed and as happy to be home as we are to have her. The man who took her was a stranger and I feel extremely fortunate to have her back as we all know the outcome of many of these situations, for those of you who are parents I'm sure you can imagine all the different thoughts that ran through my head during her absence. I know it had to be the worst night I have ever experienced in my life. I pray for all those parents out there that are still missing their children and I ask you to do the same.
The man that took her was mentally handicapped and living on his own. He apparently meant her no harm and did not understand the seriousness of his actions, he is currently being held and evaluated. It is a tough situation to deal with.
I have tried to answer as many individual emails as I could, especially from those of you who are friends or acquaintances of mine. I apologize if I miss anyone. The vast amount of mail makes it nearly impossible. I am attaching a site and form that one wonderful stranger passed onto me. It is for missing children. I hope you will pass it onto anyone you know with a missing child and even just save the page somewhere for future use. I hope no one needs it, but it is a wonderful site for those who do.
So please pass this GREAT news and MY MANY MANY THANKS onto everyone you forwarded my message to. Thank you all so much once again! God Bless!!
Feh. What a story. And it might well be one we'll never fully get to the bottom of.
Interest in this missing child case was overwhelming. Despite the original plea for help and the followup quoted above, nothing about the missing tot surfaced anywhere for the first couple of weeks, prompting speculation about the source of the
The appeal itself raised a number of questions solely because of the way it was worded. Typical "missing child" alerts list what the youngster was last seen wearing plus provide a full description of height, weight, hair color, eye color, and any distinguishing marks. Yet this one didn't; it didn't even mention the city the youngster had been taken from, let alone which police department to contact in case anyone found the child. All in all, this case felt wrong from the start, and the lack of confirming information anywhere along the line made it look even worse.
Additionally, none of the usual child-finding agencies had been notified that Kelsey was missing, even though a 1990 federal law makes it illegal for any state to require a waiting period before accepting missing child information. In other words, if your kid goes missing, the police have to take down the particulars and file a proper report as soon as you go to them. Moreover, a 1982 federal law requires all law enforcement agencies to file a copy of that report with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for every missing person under the age of 18.
In this case, no report was filed because the child had never been missing: she'd been sitting at a neighbor's, not more than a few doors away from where she lived.
Was this a case of a frantic mother who overreacted by calling the police when she awakened to find her child not in the apartment, or was this something else? Though it's perfectly reasonable a parent would react irrationally in such a state of panic, it's not reasonable to assume that panic would take the form of firing an
Later versions of the "please help find my daughter" solicitations were signed "Jay and Karen Gilo," folks whose names inadvertently came to be permanently attached to the ongoing appeal by having their signature block remain on the piece after they forwarded it on to others, thus convincing those further down the line the Gilos were the authors of the appeal.
Situations such as these point up the importance of not forwarding such alerts willy-nilly. If you get a cybersolicitation to aid in the hunt for a missing child, still your natural desire to send it to everyone you know just long enough to first do a bit of checking. Look to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for information about the child in question. If you don't find the child listed on their pages, call them at
Though everyone wants to do what they can to return abducted children to the safety of their homes,
On 10 July 1998, 20-month-old Krystava Patients Schmidt went missing. Though she was returned safely to mother no more than two days after her babysitter made off with her, the
A similar case was the one of Aaron Russell Steinmetz. This three and a half-year-old boy was abducted by his father on
Even when the search is real, the problem with
Barbara "missing inaction" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 March 2005
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