'Missing In Arizona' focusing on tribal communities

A collaboration of several agencies to further investigate and help those with missing family members in Arizona at the ASU West campus on October 21.

PHOENIX - The third annual "Missing In Arizona" event will include a new focus on those who are missing in tribal communities across the state. 

The event is a multi-agency task force working to collect information and DNA samples from family members with missing loved ones. The information will be used to create a profile that will be used to help further investigate the missing person's case. 

"I can tell you that these long term cases we are talking about are underreported all over," said Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Detective Tony Rodarte. "I believe they are underreported even more so in tribal communities based on a variety of factors."

Rodarte cites a lack of trust between some citizens and law enforcement as a major reason why some families do not report missing family members. Another is possible frustrations among those who have reported to police, but feel the investigation didn't go anywhere. 

MCSO says there are 2,000 people missing in Arizona with 1,500 unidentified remains. Over the past two years, the event has successfully led to more than 14 case resolutions with over half of the missing individuals found alive. 
 
The goal is to work collaboratively with other agencies to further investigate missing persons cases and hopefully provide answers for families. 

"Some of these agencies are just overworked and there's a lot going on," Det. Rodarte said. "We are just trying to offset a little bit of their load, if we can help them from afar." 
 
The event on Oct. 21 is free and open to families and friends affected by the disappearance of a loved one.

Law enforcement officials will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ASU West Campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Rd. in Glendale, to take reports and gather information.  
 
A support group will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and a candle-lighting ceremony to honor the missing will begin at 3 p.m. 

For more information contact Detective Tony Rodarte at t_rodarte@mcso.maricopa.gov.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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