Recently a good friend of mine received a telephone call at work from his cousin. Knowing that my friend is not supposed to take calls at work, he was immediately aware something was wrong in the family. The two men spoke for a while and it turned out the cousin’s 72 year old mother was missing. My friend is very close to his aunt and was quite upset over the ordeal.

The aunt has a weekly visit to her son’s house every Thursday. This allows the son and his minister wife the opportunity for a night out together while grandma has a day with her grandson. The other grandmother does the same on Tuesday’s so that she has a day with her grandson. This also helps the parent’s day care costs. It is a great situation and everyone benefits.

On this particular Thursday the aunt left at her usual time on the three hour trip at 1530 hours. As of midnight, she had yet to arrive. Calls to the aunt’s cell phone went directly to voicemail indicating it was either turned off, the battery was dead or it was broken. Of course this made the situation even worse.

Trying as much as I could to explain plausible explanations when 0700 hours came and there was no word, my friend was really in a sorry state. Explaining that I have seen many of these cases over the years and most all turn out well, we parted. Eight hours later I called my friend and learned the good news that the aunt had been located and was just fine.

Now what was done to look for the aunt? Her son left his home and drove the whole three hour trip to his mother’s house looking for her along the route she normally takes. Not finding her at home, he returned to his home, again checking the route she would have taken.

A call was placed to the Ohio State Patrol and they began an investigation. Any police department can start the investigation but because the trip was three hours of back roads in Ohio, the OSP could alert all Troopers along the route.

The OSP also put out what we call a Law Enforcement BOLO, which is a computer broadcast to all police departments in the BOLO area to look for the missing person. A BOLO Alert can be sent to all police in one county, all surrounding counties, a quadrant such as all of Southwest Ohio or and All Points Alert throughout the State of Ohio.

We will not go into the personal details of where the beloved family member had been, but this is an example of how police can help with a delicate but very serious situation although it is not a criminal investigation.

This situation often happened with me becoming involved when a family or group traveling together would stop at midnight to gas up and everyone would get out to stretch or use the facilities. When the family left, they would inadvertently leave someone behind who everyone thought was asleep in the back. We would have to put a BOLO out on the route the family was taking resulting in them being stopped and told of the situation.

As I told my friend, one possible explanation may be that his aunt just thought it was Wednesday and was spending the evening with her boyfriend, of whom the family was unaware.

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