MISSING IN MICHIGAN:
Browse the missing person databanks for Michigan and you'll find hundreds of vanishing people listed for that state.
Most, in accordance with national statistics, are likely gone on their own volition. Runaway males and females of all ages and races who someday will return to their puzzled yet relieved loved ones when they're good and ready ... or not.
But sometimes, as in the recent case of star college-quarterback Cullen Finnerty, 30, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances during a weekend fishing trip, or Jessica Heeringa, 25, abducted one night at her place of employment, or Jeffrey Woodruff, 25, missing and found drowned behind the pub he'd visited after work, foul play is clearly indicated.
For Finnerty, discovered face down and dead in the woods near remote Baldwin Lake with no signs of trauma, and whose cause and manner of death is therefore still pending, the matter remains a giant question mark.
For Woodruff, retrieved by divers from the filthy Kalamazoo River in the quaint and touristy town of Saugatuck, three days after he mysteriously disappeared, his case too hangs unresolved. Because, without so much as a BAC test to ponder over yet, it's impossible to even know how intoxicated he was.
And as to the pretty and petite blonde Heeringa, abruptly gone without a trace since April 26th, leaving behind all her valuables, a toddler son, and one tiny droplet of blood, the anguish for her family, friends, coworkers and neighbors goes on and on and on.
Such is the plight of those connected to people like Heeringa who go missing and are never actually found. They will live suspended in a kind of anxious wait, and somehow or another search for their undead and eternally young forever.
Nationwide, including the folks missing in Michigan, nearly a million people annually drop off the radar, and usually they are indeed fairly young. Entire communities are turned upside down whenever that happens and, as is understandable, citizens immediately look to police to solve the mystery.
But most often they don't, or can't.
Law enforcement officers resent the fact that when they do fail to swiftly act or, worse, bungle an investigation completely, savvy searchers will now resort to social media to get the word out about their absent loved one, enlisting the aid of the worldwide Web's amateur sleuthing communities, occasionally with great success.
In fact, crowdsourcing the hunt for an AWOL individual is a fast growing trend these days. So, whether police like it or not, and whether they're conducting an able inquiry or being totally apathetic, they'll probably just have to learn to work with it.
Launching a Facebook campaign after filing a missing-person report, and then networking with specialized sites like Websleuths, Reddit and Killing Killers, has become the first order of business in effectively locating the lost these days.
Regardless if they're alive or dead.