Those “Have You Seen Me” missing children flyers have been a fixture in our mailboxes for nigh on 25 years now. They were started after Vincent Giuliano, who worked at advertising company Advo, saw a TV movie about Adam Walsh, a high-profile 1980s kidnap, and later murder, victim. He was so affected by the story that he wanted to do something, and he and some coworkers came up with the idea of including flyers with pictures of missing children in their weekly ad packets.
The first child to be featured on those flyers was Cherrie Mahan, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from her school bus stop near her western Pennsylvania home 25 years ago yesterday. They chose her as the first one because there were so many details about the case that people at the Center For Missing and Exploited Children felt sure someone would come forward. Sadly, she’s never been found.
However, those flyers are credited with recovering 149 missing children. In 1990, the recovery rate for missing children was 62 percent; now, because of the flyers and new technology like Amber Alerts, it’s a whopping 97 percent.
There are some fascinating stories about how the flyers have helped recover missing children. Sometimes, it’s as simple as someone befriending a child on vacation and then seeing a flyer with their face on it when they arrive home.
It’s amazing that something so commonplace has done so much good. I know I’ll be looking at the ones that cross my doorstep a little more carefully now.
Photos: Center For Missing and Exploited Children–Cherrie Mahan at age eight and an age progression of what she might look like now.