Not Just an American Thing

Of the missing persons cases that I discuss here, I primarily focus on those being handled by American law enforcement.

I feel competent in US investigation techniques, and feel that I can best speak on cases from that perspective.

But, volumes of missing persons cases exist worldwide.

And sadly, the investigation into the disappearance of Piers Hopson was recently closed:

(EAST SUSSEX, ENGLAND) The family and friends of St Leonards man Piers Hopson paid their last respects to him at his funeral and thanksgiving service on Tuesday.

Scores of people gathered at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Crowborough for prayer and to pay tribute to him...

Piers, 35, who lived in Southwater Road, St Leonards, suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

He disappeared on January 25, 2010 from his care home after saying he was going on a walk. The last sighting of him was in Rock-a-Nore Road.

His family spent two-and-a-half years searching for him, distributing posters with his face on across Sussex, Kent and beyond.

Numerous possible sightings of Piers were made and reported to police, but none were confirmed.

His sister, Abigail Gutteridge, took the search online by setting up a Facebook page, called Help Find Piers Hopson, which drew more than 2,000 followers.

Piers’ family even offered a £10,000 reward for his safe return and made numerous televised appeals and in the local media.

But Piers’ body had already been found eight miles off Newhaven in September 2010 by a French trawler and taken back to France.

It took until April this year for his remains to be formally identified despite a DNA profile being taken a year earlier.

Piers’ family were told the devastating news by police in June after the results were passed on to Sussex Police.

Mr Hopson, in his tribute at Tuesday’s service, thanked Sussex Police, the charity Missing People, the media and everyone who helped in the family’s search for Piers...
Coordinating law enforcement efforts when multiple countries are involved is complex, but I hope French and English authorities are able to provide better services to their citizens when something like this happens again.

Making the family wait for years for an identification to be made is inexcusable.

Also there maybe something omitted in the article, but I can't imagine being a sea captain, pulling a body out of the water eight miles off the coast of a country and not returning to the closest port or even giving local authorities a "head's up" about what was found.

Anyway, kudos to the organization Missing People, a United Kingdom charity, for publicizing the Piers Hopson story and search prior to the discovery of his body.


To read more of my Missing Person Monday posts, you can click here.


Kay G. said...

My husband and I have friends who live in St. Leonard's. I will ask him about this.
Thanks for this post.

messymimi said...

It might be that the French boat did not have the proper permits to dock at Newhaven, guess we will never know. Yes, it seems he should have contacted the nearest port authority by radio and told them, so they could tell him what to do.

As for it taking a year, that's too long, i agree. We can speed it all up with computers and cooperation, and should.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah that is way too long to make someone wait, giving them false hope and such. Hopefully they get better at it, which they already should be.

Carol Kilgore said...

I agree it's sad that it took so long to identify the body and notify the family, but better late than never. They know what happened. Some families never know.

The fact that the French fisherman took the body back to France may have something to do with Maritime Law. It's often totally different from law on land. I don't know that, but it could be a possibility.

Bob G. said...

Wow...that was a really weird ending to the case...from the continent as well!
Makes you wonder about how and why the channel angle wasn't initially pursued early on during the investigation?

Reminds me of the WW2 Operation Mincemeat...(a good read, BTW)

Good story.

Stay safe out there.

Tina L. Hook said...

Too much red tape and not enough integrity.


Maxi said...

A year! A captain not reporting straight away!

There has to be better communication, so the families don't have to suffer longer than necessary.

Blessings - Maxi

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm glad that people all over the world are getting closure.

Janet Johnson said...

After reading it, I had the same question about the boat and taking the body back to France. What a hard thing for that family.

Jax said...

As if it's not scary enough here, you realize that there are crazy people everywhere. No matter the culture or location, there will always be a "bad guy".

ladyfi said...

It's always sad to hear about missing people that end up as corpses. Amazing what the power of FB can achieve though.

Rhiannon said...

That poor family! No one should have to wait that long for closure; what a terrible thing to endure :(

Ciara said...

This is the worst fear of a mother with a son on the spectrum (autism). I know it can happen to anyone, but when he was small, he'd wonder off. My neighbor brought him back a few times. Once I was in the shower and he was napping. We are lucky he understands now not to leave the house. This one hit too close to home for me. Great service to keep him alive, if only for one more story.