New Article Thursday, May 26, 2005

For the Missing, It’s a Vigil that Will Never End

Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.
The Voice of Southeastern North Carolina

By Majsan Boström
Staff Writer

Imagine that one of the faces on posters with the big bold print “Missing” was your child, your brother or your mother.

That’s a reality that Brandy Shipp, of Kansas City, Mo., has to deal with every day.

So far, Ms. Shipp has plastered her city with more than 20,000 fliers of Summer Shipp, her mother, who disappeared on Dec. 8, 2004, when she was walking door to door in a Kansas City neighborhood, conducting a survey.

In addition to the fliers, Summer Shipp can also be seen on two billboards, five buses and 30 taxis in Kansas City, Ms. Shipp said. She is determined to not let people forget, or stop searching for her missing mother.

That’s one of the reasons Ms. Shipp came to Wilmington to participate in the 11th annual CUE Center for Missing Persons Candlelight Vigil held at Riverfront Park Wednesday night.

“I’d like to meet as many people as I can that have been through similar situations, so I can learn from them and help spread awareness,” Ms. Shipp said.

Ms. Shipp, along with other family members of missing or dead people, told their stories to the 100-some people that came to the vigil.

They witnessed the unveiling of a memorial wall dedicated to the missing and presumed to be dead nationwide.

Many cried.

Included in the vigil was the unveiling of a wall filled with posters of missing people.

“I’m trying to keep my mother in the public eye,” Ms. Shipp said, fighting back tears. “I’m hoping that national recognition will lead us to that tip, to that thing that was overlooked and to that, that will eventually lead us to what happened to her.”

Each year hundreds of cases grow cold concerning the missing and or lost, said Monica Caison, founder of the CUE Center in Wilmington.

“It is our goal to bring back their faces, names and stories to our community; the vigil helps us accomplish this each year,” she said. “We are also giving out ‘Keeper of the Flame Awards’ to people who have been instrumental in helping us.”

One of the four award recipients was New Hanover County Sheriff’s Detective Doug Perry.

“It’s being given to him because he has shown a deep concern for the youth in our community and has made himself available concerning cases of the missing, doing everything he can to bring them home,” Ms. Caison said. “We applaud his work and recognize his dedication that reached far beyond the expectations of his daily job.”

Detective Perry, who spent months trying to locate a missing Castle Hayne girl, said he was honored.

“We tracked her all the way to Mexico,” said Detective Perry of 13-year-old Ana Luisa Acevedo. “I treat everybody the way I would do if it happened to someone in my family. I’m really trying to make a difference.”

At this time, deputies have information that Ana is alive and in Mexico.

Though all tales of those missing or otherwise tragically lost differed, all who came said the same thing of Ms. Caison.

They admired her work, her organization and how Ms. Caison was always at hand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to offer her help and comfort.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time with Monica,” said Ms. Shipp, who first found out about Ms. Caison and her organization a couple of weeks ago. “I’m grateful that people like her exist to make things easier for people like myself.”