JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri residents with missing family members gathered in Jefferson City, remembering them with stories, talking about the pain caused by their disappearances and vowing to keep searching.
In 2008, Missouri became the first state to set aside a date for missing people — making June 17 Missouri Missing and Unidentified Persons Day. Since then, seven other states have adopted their own days to recognize missing people, and some hope to make the day a national day of remembrance.
Those who came to Jefferson City on Thursday included the father of eastern Missouri resident Shawn Hornbeck, who was kidnapped and held captive for more than four years before he was rescued from a suburban St. Louis apartment in 2007 along with another boy. Hornbeck was held by Michael Devlin, who was convicted of kidnapping and abusing the boys and was sentenced to multiple life sentences.
"The not knowing eats away at you physically and emotionally," Craig Akers told The Jefferson City News Tribune. "For the 1,558 days we were without Shawn, we prayed, we hoped for a miracle, and it happened."
Family members of other missing Missouri residents said the uncertainty was particularly painful.
Mary Ann Asher-Chapman's daughter, Angie Yarnell, was missing for more than five years before her husband Mike Yarnell confessed to killing his wife. Angie Yarnell's body has never been found, which her mother said makes it impossible to find relief.
"My life has not been the same since she disappeared and will never be the same again," Asher-Chapman said.
Others promised they would continue searching. Relatives of Jasmine Haslag, who has been missing for three years, walked several blocks from the state Capitol to the Cole County courthouse to raise awareness.
Haslag's mother and three children said it was important for people to know they're still looking.
"I want them to know we won't stop," daughter Cassandra Lock said.