Hawaii ranked high in missing persons cases
Hawaii has the eighth highest rate of missing persons per capita in the nation. There are 8 cases for every 100,000 people who live here.
The on-going search for a woman who disappeared on Maui, is one of many "Missing Persons" cases still open.
That disappearance also shines a spotlight on Hawaii's high percentage of missing persons cases.
Hawaii has the eighth highest rate of missing persons per capita in the nation.
There are 8 cases for every 100,000 people who live here.
Not only is there a high percentage, but also more than a hundred cases still unresolved.
George Copeland used to hand out fliers when looking for a missing person, but now he turns more to social media.
"Social media has been a big help for the missing persons cases. Everyone is on their phone, so if you post on social media it will reach a lot of people quickly," stated Copeland.
In fact, he runs a Facebook page focused on missing persons in Hawaii.
"We initially used it as a tool for cases I have with my own business, as a private detective business. We used it as a tool in our paid cases, but we saw it was a great service for the community at large," added Copeland.
George didn't want his face shown on TV, because he is also a private investigator sometimes looking for missing people who WANT to disappear.
"There is also a few of those who choose to go missing. It is not breaking the law to go missing. If they want to go missing it is their choice," stated Reid Tagomori, a detective with Honolulu Police Department's Missing Persons Detail.
Tagomori said that HPD detail gets a lot of cases, "Our unit on Oahu handles about 50-70 cases a month"
While cases like Maui resident Amanda Eller get a lot of attention, they are not the only types of missing persons cases.
"You have people with Alzheimer, people missing in the mountains or ocean or people who forget to come home," stated Tagomori.
According to HPD, detectives close about 98% of their cases, but there remains around 120 cases statewide that have not been closed.
Recent ones like Tom Borel's disappearance from Ft. Shafter earlier this year; Melissa Estoy who went missing from Waianae in 2018; along with even older cases...some even stretching back decades to the 1960s.
"It is very frustrating, I feel for the family. You understand what they are going through. If your child goes missing, you aren't going to stop for anything. So, it is a challenge," added Tagomori.
It is also a challenge to get people to realize when they should first report someone is missing.
"You hear a lot about 'you have to wait 24 hours to call police'.There is no such thing. If you have a child that is 3 years old and goes missing...you report it right away," said Tagomori.
Along with knowing when to call, it is important to give police as many details of a person as possible. Not just height, weight and what they were wearing, but also details like tattoos, scars, mental condition as well as places they might frequent.