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<v Kent Manahan>There are an estimated 10000 missing persons in New Jersey. <v Kent Manahan>Most of them eventually return home. <v Kent Manahan>Some are runaways, while others are victims of foul play. <v Kent Manahan>Tonight, producer Janice Sellenger and I begin a special three part series on missing <v Kent Manahan>persons. We begin with some cases of young people who have simply vanished. <v Kent Manahan>Randy Johnson, Michael McDowell, Melvin Pittman, Ernest Taylor and <v Kent Manahan>Alvin Turner, all five, disappeared from a park in Newark in 1978. <v Kent Manahan>Princess Doe approximate age 16 years, real identity unknown, <v Kent Manahan>found dead in Blairstown in 1982. <v Kent Manahan>Her body was so badly disfigured, police had to reconstruct her face between <v Kent Manahan>22 year old Konstantine. James Bellows, junior known as Dean, last <v Kent Manahan>heard from on February 28, 1982, in eastern Arizona. <v Constantine Ballos>I keep his picture on my desk here at home. <v Constantine Ballos>I used to have his picture on my dresser, but I didn't want to look at the picture all <v Constantine Ballos>the time OK.
<v Constantine Ballos>And I didn't want to arise in the morning and go to bed at night and <v Constantine Ballos>see things. These picture leads have come up against a blank wall. <v Helen Ballos>There isn't really. There's nothing nothing to go by just <v Helen Ballos>[unclear] <v Kent Manahan>Dean had been traveling cross-country alone. <v Kent Manahan>Police found his jeep abandoned on Highway 395 in Mammoth Lakes, California. <v Kent Manahan>He was supposed to travel on Highway 10, but his jeep was found 300 miles north and <v Kent Manahan>east of his destination, a cousin's house in Costa Mesa, California. <v Kent Manahan>Dean last spoke to his parents by phone on February 28, 1982. <v Kent Manahan>On March 3rd, the police called to ask the balances of Dean's jeep had been reported <v Kent Manahan>stolen. Officials had tagged the vehicle on the shoulder of the highway because it had <v Kent Manahan>been there for three days. <v Constantine Ballos>And they said, well, is it possible that he's out backpacking or hiking? <v Constantine Ballos>Yes, I said, sure. He could be doing that. <v Constantine Ballos>He had a two person tent with him. <v Constantine Ballos>Didn't particularly have the kind of gear or a backpack or a camper would have in
<v Constantine Ballos>terms of cooking utensils, etc. <v Constantine Ballos>But he was on no fixed schedule. <v Constantine Ballos>He was in round to visit his cousin in Costa Mesa, California, and being <v Constantine Ballos>a young man, age 22. <v Constantine Ballos>It's possible he changed his mind and headed north. <v Constantine Ballos>Well, I thought it was somewhat unlikely. <v Kent Manahan>Dean lived here with his parents in Morris Township. <v Kent Manahan>He was never really away from home much except to go to school. <v Kent Manahan>At first, when his parents didn't hear from them, they weren't that concerned. <v Kent Manahan>Then, after almost two weeks had gone by a ground, an aerial search was begun in the <v Kent Manahan>Sierras. But all of the fresh clues that might have been there in the first crucial 24 <v Kent Manahan>hours were long gone. <v Kent Manahan>Both Morris Township and California police were very cooperative in the Ballos case. <v Kent Manahan>Often when a person is missing, authorities refuse to start searching until 48, <v Kent Manahan>72 or even more hours have gone by. <v Kent Manahan>Some refuse to start an investigation unless foul play is suspected. <v Kent Manahan>And if the person is an adult, it is often assumed that he just doesn't want to be found. <v Constantine Ballos>anything, anything is possible. You can you can list all the alternatives and
<v Constantine Ballos>they'll be as long as your arm. <v Helen Ballos>I can't believe that though. I can't believe it. <v Helen Ballos>He was a- he liked his home, he liked his family. <v Helen Ballos>Just can't believe he would do that. <v Kent Manahan>Today, Dean's room is as he left it almost two years ago. <v Kent Manahan>Nothing has been moved or discarded because Mrs. Ballos says she doesn't know <v Kent Manahan>what else to do. <v Constantine Ballos>In the absence of having proof of his death, <v Constantine Ballos>his body, we're hopeful. <v Kent Manahan>Nationally, almost two million people are missing. <v Kent Manahan>That number may seem high. But families tend to report a missing loved one. <v Kent Manahan>But not when they return. Dean's case is similar to many that turned up in New <v Kent Manahan>Jersey each year. The cases that are reported here tend to be mostly teenagers <v Kent Manahan>and young adults. Most are solved, like the one involving 13 year old Charles <v Kent Manahan>Dyson of Highland's, who was kidnaped in November of last year and taken to a homosexual <v Kent Manahan>club in Massachusetts. He was discovered several weeks later roaming at the Port
<v Kent Manahan>Authority terminal in New York. <v Kent Manahan>Often when teenagers and young adults are missing, police in New Jersey and elsewhere <v Kent Manahan>assume they are runaways and decide not to become involved. <v Kent Manahan>That's a crucial mistake, according to this man. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>If a person is missing, it's incumbent upon us to locate that <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>person. If no note is there. <v Kent Manahan>Sergeant Richard Ruffino heads up Bergen County's Missing Persons Bureau. <v Kent Manahan>He's worked on 350 cases since his unit was founded in 1976. <v Kent Manahan>All but seven are solved. <v Kent Manahan>Although specifically in charge of Birkins missing persons, Ruffino doesn't turn down <v Kent Manahan>requests from outside the area for help. <v Kent Manahan>And on a recent trip to California, he met with the local sheriff's department to check <v Kent Manahan>out leads on Dean's disappearance. <v Kent Manahan>They are continuing their investigation and what ruffino to come to California again and <v Kent Manahan>help out. Ruffino has been called Mr Missing Person. <v Kent Manahan>He has worked the talk show circuit and was on hand in the Rose Garden on October 12th, <v Kent Manahan>1982, when President Reagan signed the Missing Children Act into law.
<v Kent Manahan>The Act established a national clearinghouse for information on missing children. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>People want answers. OK, I don't. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>I don't. I'm no expert by no stretch of the imagination an expert. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>If I were an expert I'd have an answer for everybody. I don't. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>All I could tell you is that I'm concerned about people that are missing. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>I'm concerned about the people who are left behind. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>Devastated. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>If there is something that I could do that would make them feel better, <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>then I'm going to do it. <v Kent Manahan>Tomorrow night in part two of our series, we'll hear the tragic story of a six year old <v Kent Manahan>boy named Adam, whose kidnaping spurred passage of national missing persons legislation. <v Kent Manahan>And we'll meet a man whose family finally found him after 17 years of searching. <v Kent Manahan>In 1979, the country was shocked when six year old Etan Patz <v Kent Manahan>was kidnaped. Recently, a television movie about the real life horror story <v Kent Manahan>of six year old Adam Walsh renewed concern about child snatching. <v Kent Manahan>Adam disappeared July 27, 1981, from a Florida department store
<v Kent Manahan>while his mother was just 150 feet away in another department. <v Kent Manahan>Two weeks later, after an extensive search, Adam's head was found. <v Kent Manahan>Just recently, the person allegedly responsible was apprehended. <v Kent Manahan>Tonight, producer Jana Sellenger and I continue our series. <v Kent Manahan>Gone Without a Trace with Adam's father, John Walsh. <v John Walsh>The ultimate form of child abuse is abduction and murder. <v John Walsh>And a subtle form of child abuse is the apathy toward <v John Walsh>the problem of missing children. <v Kent Manahan>John Walsh has made missing children his personal crusade. <v Kent Manahan>He pushed for enactment of the Missing Children Act, which requires an information on <v Kent Manahan>missing persons be entered in a national computer system. <v Kent Manahan>And he had his own story about a missing child made into a movie. <v Speaker>The FBI can locate your stolen truck, but not your stolen child.
<v Speaker>[unclear] The FBI will go after stolen cars in this country, but they won't search <v Speaker>for my son. <v Kent Manahan>John Walsh tells parents to teach their children that kidnapers can be casual <v Kent Manahan>acquaintances as well as total strangers. <v John Walsh>People worry about creating a little paranoia with their children. <v John Walsh>Fifty thousand children were never heard from again last year in this country that were <v John Walsh>taken. I would rather have my child and I have a new daughter, <v John Walsh>one year old, be a little more paranoid and aware that it's 1983 than to <v John Walsh>go identify her body in a morgue. <v Kent Manahan>Whatever the merit of Walsh's numbers, police in New Jersey say this state does not have <v Kent Manahan>an Adam or an Etan Patz. <v Kent Manahan>In fact, our survey of police departments turned up not a single case of a very young <v Kent Manahan>missing child, except where it's assumed that a youngster has been taken by a parent. <v Kent Manahan>There are 32 of those cases outstanding and there are thousands of cases of missing <v Kent Manahan>teenagers and adults, people who run away because they can no longer cope with <v Kent Manahan>day to day pressures. <v Allen Matrin>Hello.
<v Allen Matrin>Can I speak to Harold Matrin please? <v Harold Martin>This is him speaking <v Allen Matrin>Hey, How are you doing? <v Allen Matrin>How come it took me so long to find you? <v Harold Martin>Well, I was abducted Really. <v Harold Martin>You know, because I saw the police leave a note, right? <v Harold Martin>and i thought [unclear] in New York <v Allen Matrin>I said there was never any warrant that I know of. Not out of Union County. <v Allen Matrin>Never. No. <v Allen Matrin>That was one of - That was one stumbling block is when we were trying to locate you all <v Allen Matrin>those years <v Kent Manahan>Harold Martin's case is typical of many New Jersey cases involving people who apparently <v Kent Manahan>want to disappear. Seventeen years ago, Harold Martin vanished from his home in <v Kent Manahan>Elizabeth. He returned briefly in 1969, then disappeared again. <v Kent Manahan>His brother Allen, a Union County undersheriff, enlisted the help of detectives to locate <v Kent Manahan>Martin. And in 1981, the Harold Martin case became the test case for the <v Kent Manahan>newly formed Union County Missing Persons Bureau. <v Kent Manahan>Even though authorities knew early on that Martin was living in Chicago, it was a tough
<v Kent Manahan>case to crack. <v Charles Harris>If they really want disappear and keep themselves away, they <v Charles Harris>could just pick up and go, stay out of the limelight, make sure they take jobs <v Charles Harris>with no fingerprint or whatever. <v Kent Manahan>By law, authorities cannot use a Social Security number or a tax return to <v Kent Manahan>track someone that makes it pretty easy for an individual to sneak off to another town <v Kent Manahan>and start over. <v Gary Decker>I'm looking for a missing person. a Carol Decker. <v Gary Decker>She called you on May 20th at 12:05 p.m. <v Kent Manahan>The Decker family has been devastated since Sunday, October twenty third. <v Kent Manahan>That's when Carol Decker went out to a neighborhood store in Neptune City around 11 <v Kent Manahan>o'clock at night and never came home. <v Kent Manahan>She left a husband and three children, Samantha three, Melanie, seven, and Tiffany, <v Kent Manahan>fourteen. <v Tiffany Decker>I had to take on a lot of responsibility <v Tiffany Decker>so far, I had a sister and mom to them. <v Gary Decker>I smoke a hell of a lot more.
<v Gary Decker>I don't really eat- I am up at three o'clock in the morning thinking about <v Gary Decker>what happened. It's just knowing that I don't know what happened. <v Gary Decker>And it's unbelievable. <v Kent Manahan>Gary Decker had no hint that his wife was thinking of leaving. <v Kent Manahan>But since her disappearance, he's discovered a number of troubling clues. <v Kent Manahan>Carol Decker's hobby was writing. <v Kent Manahan>Gary recently found these thoughts, which she wrote down two years before her <v Kent Manahan>disappearance. What causes women to run away from home? <v Kent Manahan>Carol wrote. I know it's because they have three children and one husband. <v Kent Manahan>That is why women run away from home. <v Kent Manahan>Gary also discovered a loan and a charge card which he never knew existed. <v Kent Manahan>And a pile of unpaid bills. <v Kent Manahan>A cryptic message on a card sent to daughter Tiffany began to make the puzzle pieces come <v Kent Manahan>together. And the song Every Breath You Take by the rock group Police, <v Kent Manahan>which Carol bought the day before she disappeared, haunts Gary. <v Kent Manahan>[music plays]
<v Gary Decker>I miss her very much. <v Gary Decker>And I just want her back home where she belongs with the whole family. <v Gary Decker>You know, it's I will never throw anything in front of a face on it or anything like <v Gary Decker>that. I would never bring it up because I never want to see it happen <v Gary Decker>again. And I will never. To me, this is the worst thing that could ever happen to a <v Gary Decker>person, especially a guy. <v Kent Manahan>Finding a missing person like Carol Decker might be easier if proposed legislation <v Kent Manahan>in New Jersey becomes law. A bill which unanimously passed the state Senate and <v Kent Manahan>Assembly would have set up a centralized missing persons center and a 12 man task force. <v Kent Manahan>But the governor recently veto the measure because it didn't contain provisions for <v Kent Manahan>funding. Tomorrow night. In the last part of our series, we'll see just how <v Kent Manahan>easy it is to be gone without a trace. <v Kent Manahan>Searching for a missing person can be frustrating. <v Kent Manahan>Full of dead ends, unanswered questions and complications. <v Kent Manahan>Sometimes it can seem hopeless. <v Kent Manahan>Tonight, in part three of our series Gone Without a Trace.
<v Kent Manahan>Producer Jana Sellenger and I begin with a look at a magazine originally formed to help <v Kent Manahan>locate missing juveniles. But that project has grown over <v Kent Manahan>the past four years. Charles Sutherland has published Search, a nationwide magazine <v Kent Manahan>to help law enforcement in hospitals and tracking missing people. <v Kent Manahan>The magazine has published Quarterly and Englewood Cliffs. <v Kent Manahan>But even with the aid of a publication like Search, locating a missing person is not <v Kent Manahan>an easy task. One big problem- families often don't have up to date photographs. <v Charles Sutherland>Here is a classic example. <v Charles Sutherland>Here's a gentleman that we were looking for. He's now 31. <v Charles Sutherland>You'll notice he's got a beard and a mustache. <v Charles Sutherland>By comparison, there's the same <v Charles Sutherland>individual, a different older photograph. <v Kent Manahan>He's changed a great deal. <v Charles Sutherland>He's changed a great deal because of his hair, a beard, a mustache. <v Charles Sutherland>But the face is still the same. <v Charles Sutherland>Now, tell us, what does he look like now? <v Kent Manahan>And you may never know.
<v Charles Sutherland>And you may never know. <v Kent Manahan>Families sometimes hold back information vital to an investigation. <v Kent Manahan>They're embarrassed to say the person suffers from mental illness or to disclose that the <v Kent Manahan>person has run away before or has a criminal record. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>For instance, if I ask a parent, has your husband or your wife or your son or your <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>daughter ever been arrested? And they say to me, no, I would then have to assume that <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>there's no fingerprints on file, fingerprints being a good identifier if they were to <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>tell us the truth. We can immediately file for those fingerprints and then immediately <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>have them compared to those people who have been incarcerated. <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>So they actually what they do is they're short cutting their own investigation to get <v Sgt. Dick Ruffino>answers. <v Kent Manahan>Dick Ruffino, whom we met in part one of our series, heads Bergen County's Missing <v Kent Manahan>Persons Bureau. His interest in the issue is both professional and personal. <v Kent Manahan>At the age of nine, I was an abducted child. <v Kent Manahan>I know what it is to be held against your will. <v Kent Manahan>I didn't like it. I didn't like what was tried. <v Kent Manahan>Every year, search runs approximately 500 pictures of missing young children, teenagers <v Kent Manahan>and adults.
<v Kent Manahan>Seeing these pictures kind of leaves you with a sick, empty feeling inside. <v Kent Manahan>James William Hires age 20, last seen a 1980 run in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, <v Kent Manahan>tries winter aged 16. <v Kent Manahan>Last seen in 1982 in Bellevue, Washington. <v Kent Manahan>If these people were members of your familyor mine, the thought of not knowing would be <v Kent Manahan>unbearable. <v Kent Manahan>That's what the Ballos family lives with each and every day. <v Kent Manahan>Their son, Dean, has been missing since February 28, 1982. <v Kent Manahan>Police found his jeep in Mammoth Lakes, California. <v Kent Manahan>But no sign of Dean not knowing has taken a heavy toll on the family. <v Helen Ballos>Maybe he didn't disappear. <v Helen Ballos>Maybe something was- he was harmed, harmed in some I dont know. <v Kent Manahan>As a result of your experiences. <v Kent Manahan>What would you like to see done in this area? <v Constantine Ballos>Well, I think the most effective thing would be would <v Constantine Ballos>be to have a widespread spread search effort by <v Constantine Ballos>knowledgeable, experienced police authorities
<v Constantine Ballos>conducted immediately upon notification of a missing <v Constantine Ballos>person and not to wait for evidence of foul play <v Constantine Ballos>or a body or whatever. <v Kent Manahan>Authorities believe Dean may have met with foul play, but there are people who choose <v Kent Manahan>to disappear, simply step and leave, while others go to the trouble of changing their <v Kent Manahan>identities. They'll take the name off a tombstone, get a birth certificate and become <v Kent Manahan>that person while others steal a driver's license, go to a neighboring state and get <v Kent Manahan>another license issued in the new name. <v Kent Manahan>Does it require a lot of planning for a person to be missing without a trace? <v Charles Sutherland>No. It can be accomplished very quickly, very easily <v Charles Sutherland>on a literally a moment's impulse. <v Charles Sutherland>or it could involve a lot of planning, too. <v Charles Sutherland>If you want to wipe out all of your savings <v Charles Sutherland>and converting converted to cash. <v Charles Sutherland>You can pick up from New Jersey and go to California, use a different
<v Charles Sutherland>name, provided you're not doing this for the purpose of evasion of taxes <v Charles Sutherland>or debts. Not abandoning your family. <v Charles Sutherland>There is no reason why you shouldn't do that. <v Charles Sutherland>You're entitled. <v Kent Manahan>Carol Decker left her husband and three children on the evening of October Twenty third. <v Kent Manahan>Just recently, her car was found in Perth Amboy with a note written in her handwriting <v Kent Manahan>to contact her husband, Gary. <v Kent Manahan>Gary and Carol's father had been getting phone calls where they here typing, and then the <v Kent Manahan>caller hangs up. Gary believes it's Carol. <v Gary Decker>I think maybe she she's just afraid unless everything's <v Gary Decker>backed up so much. And she tried to take. <v Gary Decker>Now, to pay this one like pay take from Peter to pay Paul <v Gary Decker>and and maybe she got so afraid or something. <v Gary Decker>She did this without my knowledge that she'd just couldn't take any <v Gary Decker>more, I guess, and just left. <v Kent Manahan>Unless a missing person returns, it's often next to impossible to know why he or she
<v Kent Manahan>decided to run away. But those who work with the missing and their families can <v Kent Manahan>draw some conclusions. <v Charles Sutherland>Certainly financial stress could be a reason. <v Charles Sutherland>Emotional problems, perhaps <v Charles Sutherland>the pull and tug of a family relationship certainly <v Charles Sutherland>involves emotional relationships and the decision, hey, <v Charles Sutherland>I'm not enjoying the way I live. <v Kent Manahan>Should these people be found? Their whereabouts may not necessarily be reported to their <v Kent Manahan>families as long as they haven't broken the law. <v Kent Manahan>They have the right to be gone without a trace. <v Kent Manahan>If you're interested in locating a missing person or if you believe you know where one of <v Kent Manahan>the missing from our report is, please contact Search magazine at area <v Kent Manahan>code two 0 one five six seven four 0 four 0 and search will direct you to the correct <v Kent Manahan>agency. That's area code two 0 one five six seven four 0 four 0. <v Kent Manahan>And now that we've completed this special, we would like to acknowledge the fine work of
New Jersey Nightly News
Gone Without a Trace
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New Jersey Network
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
"GONE WITHOUT A TRACE is a three part series geared to a general audience. It is an examination of New Jersey's missing persons problem. The issue of the missing came to light recently with the made-for-television movie 'Adam.' That was the story of the seven year old Florida boy who was abducted from a department store -- and was later found dead. "New Jersey does not currently have an Adam. Our survey of police departments showed no small children were abducted by strangers. But there are an estimated 10,000 missing New Jerseyans. Many eventually return, yet others simply vanish. "In this series we meet some New Jersey families who are searching for missing loved ones and we talk to someone who simply chose to disappear. This series examines what can be done to help find the missing and to help the families left behind and we learn just how easy it is to be GONE WITHOUT A TRACE"--1983 Peabody Digest.
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Producing Organization: New Jersey Network
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Duration: 0:18:50
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Chicago: “New Jersey Nightly News; Gone Without a Trace,” 1983-12, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “New Jersey Nightly News; Gone Without a Trace.” 1983-12. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: New Jersey Nightly News; Gone Without a Trace. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from