Arizona families draw hope from women freed in Cleveland

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Freedom for three women snatched over a decade ago in Cleveland brings hope to the families of missing persons here in Arizona.

“You’ve got to think 10 years down the road to get your child back, that's incredible. That's the equivalent of a comet passing the earth,” said Detective William Andersen of the Phoenix Police Missing Persons Unit.

It’s rare and spectacular and something he has yet to witness first-hand. Still, he hopes for it day in and day out. 

“There certainly is hope and we don't ever want anyone to give up hope," he said.

Andersen worries about his own cases; 17-year-old Alyssa Turney, missing since 2001, and 13-year-old Myron Traylor, missing since 1988, and 9-month-old Aleacia Stancil, missing since 1994.

“I hope she's alive. I hope someone is raising her as their own, but being law enforcement, I have to be more practical and I don't see good things having happened to that child,” Andersen said.

Pictures of the missing line the hallways of this Phoenix Police Department office. They serve as a constant reminder of that child and all the others still out there.

Phoenix is the nation’s fifth largest city and this police department investigates some 5,000-7,000 missing person cases a year.  Thankfully most are solved, but for the others Andersen hopes this miracle in Cleveland helps jog some memories and inspires some people to come forward.

“I want to encourage people to call police,” he said.  “It may be unimportant to you, but it could be a world of difference in these cases.”

People in Cleveland are learning now that all those little quirks about their neighbor actually added up to much more.  Police suggest you know your neighbors, know their patterns and note odd mannerisms and call police.

“Abductions are exceedingly rare,” Andersen said. But they do happen. 

“Statistically your lifespan drops to a couple hours if you are abducted. You need to raise hell right then and there,” he said

Police suggest teaching your children to keep their distance from strangers, to scream and fight for their lives. 

If taken, police say you should never give up the idea of escape.  Do not let your captor’s threats control you.  Do whatever you can whenever you can to draw attention to your whereabouts.  That might even mean starting a fire to draw the attention and help you need.