- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - When someone goes missing in the city, it sends the Missing Persons Unit into action.

The police unit is Detective Jessie Agosto and newly-minted Detective Ann Mays, supervised by Sgt. Elisa Tuozzoli.

Last year the department had 688 missing-person cases, Tuozzoli said. The vast majority of those are resolved quickly and many of them involve frequent runaways. The majority of the unit’s cases are for habitual runways, Tuozolli said. Well over 400 of 2013’s 688 cases were for habitual runways. One child ran away 17 times.

The unit is working together with New Haven Family Alliance on habitual runaway cases. The board holds runaways accountable, but also helps connect them with needed services.

Every missing person case starts off with an initial responding officer.

The initial officer fills out a missing persons form that was designed by Agosto and refined last year. Before that, responding officers would fill out only a generic narrative form that is used for a variety of calls.

The form streamlined the process and also ensured that all the necessary information is obtained from the onset of the investigation, Agosto said. Any missing information could potentially set an investigation back.

The information is then entered into a variety of systems, including COLLECT and NCIC. That allows law enforcement officials who run the person’s name for something such as a vehicle stop to know that they are classified as a missing person.

Police will then check any addresses that the missing person frequents, as well as any social media posts from that person’s account, Agosto said.

It’s also important to get a picture of the person, not only for police but for the public when a Silver Alert is activated.

There has been some debate about the effectiveness of Silver Alerts, especially because they are issued so frequently.

“They are actually more useful than people give them credit for,” Tuozzolli said.

The alert allows information to be put out quickly to the public. A number of cases have been solved in the past thanks to the public’s help.

A number of databases, including the Department of Correction, are checked to make sure the person wasn’t picked up by an outside agency.

Police also can ping the GPS on a person’s phone as another potential way to help limit the search area. There are also other methods, such as tracing the use of ATM or credit cards, but that requires a search warrant.

Although most cases are closed fairly quickly, there are a handful of cases where police have no fresh leads.

“Generally, people are creatures of habit,” Tuozzolli said. “When someone goes completely missing, it’s a mystery.”

There were seven open missing persons cases as of April 11. The case of the Rev. Gonzalee Henderson, 72, was solved April 8.

Henderson, who didn’t have any known family members, went missing in mid-March, Tuozzolli said. A friend reported him missing after he didn’t show up for a broadcast on Citizens Television. His possessions were left behind and there was a question about his mental health.

It turned out Henderson wasn’t really missing. The long arm of justice, or more specifically the arms of federal marshals, grabbed Henderson on an arrest warrant from the mid-1970s for violation of parole.

There is a bit of a delay when information from certain systems makes its way to the Police Department, Tuozzolli said. The databases also have to be checked manually.

Agosto said in an interview before Henderson was found that she didn’t see the overall process of searching for a person changing much over the next five or 10 years. What would help is a streamlined and automated process to check a multitude of databases.

Families who have someone missing are looking for closure, Agosto said. Hopefully, that closure is reunification.

“Good or bad, if I can help a family move on or reunite them, that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

Sometimes families will wait days, weeks or even years to report someone missing, Agosto said. It is often because the family assumes the person is in jail or is dealing with a drug binge.

One of the first things you see entering Janet Frisco’s apartment is a small picture of her daughter Evelyn Ann Frisco, who went missing nearly 10 years ago in June 2004. She keeps a larger picture of her on a side table near her couch and another of her as a child on the wall.

There is also a wooden plaque with an article from a 2011 Register article about her daughter and other missing person cases.

“I wish one way or another they found out what happened to her,” Frisco said.

She will buy a rose bush to put near her apartment in memory of her daughter’s birthday, which is on May 24.

“It’s been 10 long years,” she said.

A number of thoughts run through her mind about her daughter’s disappearance. She wonders if her daughter is dead, in protective custody or somewhere else. She said her daughter helped out city police because she knew where to buy drugs and fears that she ran into the wrong drug dealer who wanted revenge.

Police previously said in 2011 that they were familiar with Eveleyn Frisco, knew she was a prostitute and that there wasn’t evidence to link her disappearance to any case with which she might have been helping police.

“I don’t think they will ever find out (what happened to her),” Janet said. “But you can’t give up hope.”

Evelyn Ann Frisco was last seen with blonde hair, but she is naturally a brunette.

Ande Fan went missing on Aug. 8, 2004, near his residence on 300 Eastern St. All his personal belongings were left behind, and he has a mental condition. He is a 5-foot, 4-inch tall Asian male with black hair and brown eyes.

Fan’s sister Anji Fan is a nun with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods in Indiana. She said it has been a while since she heard from police.

“I can only pray and hope for a miracle that someday we can find out what had happened to my brother… My family is praying and hoping for a closure,” she said in an email.

Jose Ortiz was reportedly abducted in December 2005. He was last seen riding his bicycle near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Lombard Street. A vehicle pulled up and three occupants grabbed him off the bicycle and pulled him into the vehicle, Tuozzolli said.

Jerry Dolphin went missing in October 1994 when he was 20. He is a 5-foot-11 black male with black hair and brown eyes.

Martquita Jones was last in contact with her family in the summer of 2011 and might be staying in the Hill area of the city, Agosto said. She is a dark-skinned black female with brown eyes and black hair and stands about 5 feet 2. She goes by Keigha, Kecia, Luv and Quita Luv.

Lisa Calvo was last seen on Oct. 6, 2005. She is white, 4 feet 11 and has brown hair and brown eyes. She has tattoos on her right leg and right thigh.

The department recently got a new missing person case from June 1976 that was recently reported. Samuel Byrd went missing when he was 17, Agosto said. He was reported missing by a family member who said he was last seen in an airport limo at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport. His destination, if any, is unknown.

Detectives are waiting for an age-progression composition to be created, as he would now be 55.

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