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Monday, December 3, 2012

A Parents’ Guide To Finding A Runaway Child

Tony Loftis is interviewed about his missing daughter on WPIX, channel 11, in New York City. (Screenshot)

Last November, Christina Loftis came home and realized that her 13-year-old daughter, Allie Loftis, was not where she was supposed to be.

After the police searched the family’s suburban Massachusetts home, they found a note on the daughter’s whiteboard. It read: “Don’t look for me. I’m not lost, I’m found.”

Allie was missing for 12 days before she was found in Jersey City, N.J. with a 42-year-old man, Jorge Luis Garzon. Garzon was charged with kidnapping, child endangerment, and other offenses. He pleaded guilty and is currently serving a five-year sentence.

Authorities credit the success of the search to a social media campaign launched by Allie’s parents, Christina and Tony Loftis.

The campaign started with a Facebook page, reaching out to Allie with pleas to come home, and it grew into a social media storm. The Huffington Post wrote a story on Allie, which prompted several TV stations in New York – where a surveillance camera had spotted Allie – to pick up the story as well.

Soon, someone who had seen Allie in his neighborhood called in the tip to the WPIX-TV in New York, and Allie was recovered.

Allie’s parents are now deconstructing the way they used social media, in order to help other parents locate their missing children. Their website, FindYourMissingChild.org, provides a guide to what parents can do when faced with the situation Christina and Tony Loftis faced last year.

Families who want a copy of the “Social Media Guide for Parents of Missing or Runaway Children” should send an email to info@findyourmissingchild.org.


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  • guest

    I am very glad to hear that this family’s  missing person story resolved successfully, with the perpetrator already in jail within a year.  Unfortunately, relatives of mine are grieving from a similar experience a year ago, when a 71-year-old male relative of mine went missing on 9/29/11.  His wife and children did everything right to find him, using social media, creating a facebook page, working closely with the police, and offering rewards through local media outlets.  Sadly, his remains were found about 8 weeks later in a rural area and in a badly decomposed state. The coroner decided that his death was caused by two gunshot wounds to the head.  My understanding is that while the police have a murder suspect, they have not accumulated enough evidence to charge him.  Considering that a year has passed since my relative was found dead, I lament that there are not enough resources to solve missing persons cases like this quickly and efficiently.

  • Trickledrury

    I disagree with the Robin Young’s oft repeated assumption  that all teenagers are difficult.  I am the mother of three, and I remember hearing about The Terrible Twos…never happened.  I was then warned that teenagers are a nightmare. My daughter is 17, my son 14…so far so good.    I noticed every time Robin Young mentioned “being a 13 year old” she gave a nervous giggle and explained that, as we all know, it is a troubled time of life.  I wonder if, the more we state something, the more it is bound to happen.  What if we said — 13 year olds are great!  It’s an amazing, transitional time of life.  We’re interested in what’s going on…instead of assuming fight stance?  Instead of assuming that all they do is whine, complain and resist, we reinterpret that to — all they do is  ask, explore, feel and question?

  • Kris

    An article inspired by this story:

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