Bryona Williams, 15, was missing for four days before the Detroit Police Department reported her disappearance to state and federal authorities; she was found dead two weeks later. As with thousands of other missing-children cases nationwide, police should have reported the Williams case immediately to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, as required by federal law, reports the Scripps-Howard News Service.
In a study of computer files at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Scripps-Howard found that dozens of police departments failed to report at least 4,498 runaway, lost, and abducted children in apparent violation of the 1990 National Child Search Assistance Act. Seventeen of these unreported children are dead, 131 are still missing. John Walsh, host of TV’s “America’s Most Wanted,” whose 6-year-old son Adam was kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall and murdered in 1981, says, “No police agency should have the arbitrary right to determine the fate of a child like this. And noncompliance (with federal law) is a death sentence for some children.” Police departments in Detroit and Honolulu and the U.S. Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service, which oversees security at all Navy bases , are re-writing their missing-children policies, says Scripps-Howard.