If you know someone who is missing, you know the pain and anxiety that comes with waking up every day not knowing whether that person is dead or alive.
There are more than 1,000 missing persons cases in Wisconsin, but solving some of these cases may be impossible.
When it comes to missing children, there’s a national database that helps both law enforcement and the public track these kids, but that’s not the case for adults.
“It’s hard to live everyday with no answers,” Marsha Loritz said.
Loritz’ mother, Victoria, vanished without a trace from her Brown County home back in 2013.
“Her money, her purse, her cell phone and her cigarettes were left behind,” she said.
Loritz organized countless searches and printed hundreds of posters, hoping someone will come forward with information about her mother.
A lot of the “legwork” she says is on her, after learning not all law enforcement agencies share missing person information online with the public.
"There is no one website to go to,” Loritz said. “With missing children, they have to be entered into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's web site and there is none for adults."
According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, there are 1,057 missing persons cases, but we searched online and nowhere could we find all of those cases in one place.
Websites like the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for the Missing and Exploited only lists 56 people, while The Charley Project lists 89 and The Doe Network has just 25 cases.
“I assumed that if people are missing, they are entered into these sites and that’s not the case,” Loritz said.
There is only one web site law enforcement is required to enter adult cases into and that’s called the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC. However, this database only has statistics for the public. It does not provide names or photographs of the missing.
“It’s devastating to know there are people out there who will never have answers,” Loritz said.
There’s also a challenge with putting a name to an unidentified body that’s recovered years or even decades later.
According to a national group that tracks missing and unidentified persons, around 40,000 bodies in the U.S. were buried or cremated before being identified or tested for DNA.
In Wisconsin, 24 of the 50 Jane and John Doe cases will likely never be solved because no DNA evidence was collected.
“We all love cases to be solved in the first 48 hours,” Racine County Investigator Tracy Hintz said.
Unfortunately, that’s not reality according to Hintz.
She’s currently working a Jane Doe case from July 1999.
The body of a female in her late teens or early 20’s was discovered in a corn field on 92nd Street between 5 and 6 Mile Road in the town of Raymond.
Her body was buried in 1999, but was exhumed in October 2013 for further analysis.
“She was wearing a very distinct men’s country western style shirt,” Hintz said.
Hintz has also created this Facebook page in her memory, hoping someone will recognize the composite sketch and clothing she was wearing at the time her body was discovered.
“This girl walked this earth and she deserves more than to lay in a cemetery without a name,” Hintz said.
In Loritz’ case, Marsha is holding onto hope her mother, Victoria Prokopovitz will be found alive and safe.
“If you’re out there mom, I love you and I want you home,” Loritz said. “If somebody knows something about what happened to my mom, please help her come home.”
Two years ago, Loritz wrote to Gov. Scott Walker to bring awareness to missing person cases in Wisconsin.
In response, Walker declared April as “Missing Persons Awareness Month”.
You can read more about the Prokopovitz case here.
Helpful links to missing and unidentified persons cases:
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com/home
National Missing and Unidentified Persons System: http://namus.gov/
Wisconsin Clearinghouse for the Missing and Exploited Children and Adults: https://www.missingpersons.doj.wi.gov/
The Doe Network: http://www.doenetwork.org/uid-geo-menu.php