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Database: 137 open missing persons cases in Maine

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database, there are currently...
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database, there are currently more than 21,000 open missing persons investigations nationwide.(WMTW)
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 7:44 AM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) - May is National Missing Persons Month.

Across the country, more than 600,000 people go missing every year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice.

While most of those people return home quickly and safely, some never do.

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database, there are currently more than 21,000 open missing persons investigations nationwide.

In Maine, there are 137 open missing persons cases, according to the NMUPS.

The Portland Police Department is investigating six long-term missing persons cases, some of which date back decades.

Cathy Moulton was last seen in downtown Portland in September 1971. In the decades since her disappearance, police have followed leads across New England and even into Canada searching for the then-16-year-old.

“I have families that call almost every year on the anniversary of their loved one’s disappearance or their birthdays,” said interim Dep. Chief Robert Martin.

Martin said several years after Moulton’s disappearance, a new team of detectives began intensely investigating the case and made some progress, but now, definitive answers on what happened to the teen were ever found.

“It just seems like something happened, that there was some third party involved in her disappearance, and that’s the troubling thing,” Martin said. “Was it someone she knew? Was it someone that just came upon her walking down the street.”

Martin said today, most missing persons investigations handled by Portland are resolved relatively quickly, pointing to the use of new technology like video surveillance, cellphones and electronic financial records to pinpoint those who go missing.

Technology is also being used to keep a spotlight on cold cases like Moulton’s.

Portland police regularly share images and information on older investigations in hopes of drumming up new leads.

Police are not alone in their work to keep missing people like Moulton in the public view.

Kylie Low is a podcaster based in Maine. Her show Dark Downeast features the stories of crimes and disappearances across New England.

Her episodes dive deep into records, interviews with investigators and conversations with family members of victims and missing people. The Moulton case was one of the first disappearances her show covered.

“A missing person for a family, they have described it to me a nebulas, there is never really an end until that loved one comes home,” Low said. “Even if they’re looking for a conviction or some kind of answer in the justice system, what they really want is just to have their loved one home.”

With a background in investigative journalism, Low said she hopes the information and conversations in her show can lead to new breaks in investigations and, ultimately, closure for the families of missing people.

“The family is really the heart of the investigation, especially for cases that have been on the books for 10, 20. 30 years.

They’re the ones leading the charge making sure the names, the faces, the stories aren’t lost to time.”

Information in missing persons can be reported to the U.S. Justice Department.

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