The Yakima City Council will acknowledge the county’s missing people and the toll on the loved ones who continue to search for them on Tuesday.
May was Missing Persons Awareness Month.
Washington has 696 missing people and 142 unidentified remains in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons system, or NamUs, a national information clearinghouse and resource center.
Of those, 27 people are missing from Yakima County, and nine are missing from the city of Yakima.
Among the missing are Karen Johnley Wallahee, a 28-year-old Yakama woman who disappeared in November 1987; Kayann Canfield, a 24-year-old white woman from Wapato; Esthela Rios-Gonzales, a 30-year-old Hispanic woman from Toppenish who disappeared in October 2013; and Rosalita Longee, an 18-year-old American Indian woman from Wapato who disappeared in June 2015.
Others who are missing span every race and range in age, from 3-year-old Roland Spencer III, an American Indian child who went missing from Toppenish in May 1984, to 57-year-old Lawrence Riegel, a white male who went missing from Yakima in December 2009, according to NamUs data.
“The missing and unidentified have family and friends that love them and miss them and continue to search for them, no matter how long it might take, and their lives are now lived in limbo,” the proclamation states.
Cody Turner, 24, went missing from his grandmother’s home in Yakima on July 26, 2015.
Michelle Joe, Cody’s mother, has become an activist and advocate for missing persons. She started the Facebook group Yakima Scan Missing Persons after her son’s disappearance.
Cody is the “Cody” in Cody’s Law, which Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed on March 18. The law requires law enforcement officers in the state to enter all missing people not found within 30 days into the National Crime Information Center database. The law also requires coroners and medical examiners to enter any unidentified remains into NamUs if the individual is still unidentified 30 days after being found, effective June 11.
Joe wrote the following to state Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, in support of Cody’s Law:
“Imagine the fear and uncertainty, the inability to sleep, the growing panic. Imagine that feeling, continuing for days, months, years, or even decades. Imagine going through every birthday, every holiday, every anniversary for the date that your loved one went missing, and never having an answer if your loved one is alive or dead. Thankfully, most of you will never know what it is like when a loved one goes missing. It is a nightmare that no one should have to experience.”
The Washington State Patrol, which has a missing and unidentified persons unit, asks that people first report any missing individual to the local law enforcement in the area where the person was last seen.
For cases in which a child is missing, the unit’s number is 1-800-543-5678 or the division can be emailed at email@example.com.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can be reached at 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST).