Madeleine McCann, Etan Patz: Investigators and Parents Still Hoping

There are 800,000 children reported missing in the USA alone every year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That’s 2,000 every single day. Most of these children are found safely. But 200,000 of them are abducted by family members. 58,000 are abducted by non-family members. And 115 of these children are a parent’s worst nightmare: A child abducted by a stranger and killed, held for ransom, or taken with the intention to keep.

For many parents who face this nightmare, there is no respite from wondering every day what has happened to their child who vanished without a trace. And often, once the initial media frenzy has waned, it’s difficult for the family to keep the case in the minds of officials or the public.

But two high profile missing children cases have been back in the news this week. Etan Patz disappeared 33 years ago on May 25, 1979 as he walked to the bus stop alone for the first time. Etan was the first missing child to appear on milk cartons, and his disappearance was perhaps the turning point when parents became hypervigilant about the (admittedly small) risks of child abduction. Investigators searching for Etan have pursued many leads over the last 33 years, but no trace of Etan has ever been found. The case has gone through phases of investigation and dormancy over the last three decades, but just this week, investigators excavated a basement just two blocks from the home where Etan’s parents still live, in the hopes of finding some trace of the boy. Etan’s parents received the news on Sunday that no trace of Etan was found.

In the UK, investigators trying to locate Madeleine McCann, the child who disappeared from a hotel room in Portugal in 2007, have released a computer-generated image of what the girl might look like now at age 9. The UK police forces have been thoroughly investigating the case after Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, appealed to the Prime Minister to help find their child. Madeleine’s parents have always said that the Portuguese police botched the case, focusing on Kate as the perpetrator and ignoring other valid leads while their child was spirited away.  Police forces in London today said there is still a chance Madeleine is alive, and that information and leads have been handed to the Portuguese police who would have to make the decision to reopen the case.

Both Etan and Madeleine are high-profile cases. And every day, thousands of other children’s cases languish, their parents waiting for answers.  Police forces, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and other organizations are doing their best to find answers for these families – and yet, every day, the families still wake up without their sons and daughters. My heart goes out to these families, and I hope fervently that they will find the answers they seek – or better yet, find their children, miraculously safe and sound.


Related Stories:

$3 Million?: Murdoch Offers Payment to Family in Hacking Case

American Children Kidnapped and Taken to Tunisia By Father

300,000 Babies Trafficked In Spain?

JeffPearce on Flickr


Sheri D.
Sheri D.4 years ago

It's just heartbreaking for both the children and their parents.

Mandi A.
Amanda A.4 years ago

Just makes me sick to my stomach...

Mary Emmons
Mary Emmons4 years ago

Sad but so true! To those parents that have lived behind their false lies, I hope they get theirs in the end! To the parents that have actually had their children abducted, my heart goes out to them a million times over!

Donna B.
Donna B.4 years ago

Makes me so sad and I cry for ALL the lost children.

Winn Adams
Winnie Adams4 years ago

Blessings to this little girl and prayers to all involved. These parents need a resolution to this tragedy ASAP.

Susana Francisco
Susana Francisco4 years ago

My point exactly.

Suzanne Osborne
Suzanne Osborne4 years ago

The McCanns have nobody but themselves to blame.

Alicia N.
Alicia N.4 years ago

Sadly noted..........

Susana Francisco
Susana Francisco4 years ago

He didn't care and wrote a book about it. For all of this, it seems to me the police from wherever it is has no guilt on Maddie not having been found yet. The parents shouldn't leave 3 children alone in an apartment unattended, no matter how often they claim to check on them.

Susana Francisco
Susana Francisco4 years ago

What's said on this article isn't entirely true. The portuguese police did more for this child than for any other child that has been missing. There is another kid here who has been missing for 14 years or something and they know who did it and are working their asses off to send him to jail. They mobilized the entire country for Maddie, which has never been done before. They mobilized the world. And no, that wasn't the parents, that was the police. Until they found her blood on the apartment and on the family's rented car. They found out the children were drugged to sleep and sleep and sleep without waking up while they were having a party with friends. The parents say the car was always there because they could see it. How did the blood get there? She hid from the parents on the back of the car after getting hurt? They don't sound like very good parents at all. So people can't say stuff like the portuguese police didn't care, they ignored proof, they did this and that. The only proof they ignored was the one that linked the parents to the missing of the child, the proof that made them the principal suspects. So actually, that was "good" for the parents, who complain about the police doing nothing. Why did the demand the investigations to stop when they began being investigated for the missing of the child as suspects? The investigator who found out all of that was put away from the case and threathened with life arrest if he said anything. He didn't care and wrote a book ab