Colorado Springs Police Detective Ron Lopez is silently churning away and making results happen to heat up cold case missing persons cases. He's part of a one man unit to help find out what happened to people who've been missing in some cases, for decades. Detective Lopez told me that in 2009, CSPD had approximately 100 cold case missing persons investigations. He and NAMUS have helped whittle that number down to less than 25. Officer Lopez has found several people alive and well. He's also discovered that three investigations that were thought to be missing persons were actually homicides. Those people behind those deaths have been brought to justice.
NAMUS is a website that stands for National Missing and Unidentified Missing Persons System and hope for families. It's a one stop shop for information from other law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners about these investigations. These resources post their own info about missing persons, homicides or unexplained situations that can help solve unexplained situations here, too. Families can also log in and provide updated information about their loved ones like DNA or dental records that weren't included in the original investigation.
Jean Langness is a Mom of a missing child. Robert Pillsen Rahier was 15 years old and vanished in 1990. He was in a care facility for children with emotional issues and believed to be a runaway. That facility is no longer in operation. Langness told me from her home in Kansas, "I'm pretty much convinced something happened to him at the facility. There was silence from the facility after it happened and I got no help from them in finding him." Langness believes Namus and Officer Lopez are the shot in the arm to help jump start the investigation into her son's disappearance. She said, "I feel Officer Lopez is a total blessing to help people in our community find missing children. He has so much compassion and so much knowledge." Officer Lopez says, "Every case that I look at, I put myself in their parent's position and say what if that was my child. How would I feel?"
Detective Lopez also told me families feel a sense of resolution not emotional closure when it comes to a sad conclusion to their loved ones' disappearance. He said, "Resolution, at least for missing persons cases. They know what happened. I think families need resolution."