RICHMOND, Ind. (WDTN) — Richmond families are coming together, remembering their loved ones who’ve seemingly vanished without a trace.
Families of the missing will hold a vigil and balloon launch Saturday at 3 p.m. at Glen Miller Park in Richmond.
Jalen McCuin is one of the missing. The 24-year-old disappeared from Richmond in August 2018.
“We didn’t think this would ever happen to us,” says Isaac McCuin, Jalen’s father.
“My pain has not stopped and it never will,” says Tiffany McCuin, Jalen’s mother.
After not hearing from their son, and their phone calls and text messages went unanswered, the McCuins went to the police. The McCuins say police initially treated it as a runaway case.
“They just assumed that he just walked off on his own,” states Tiffany. “I feel like in a lot of ways, if he could come home, he would come home.”
Jalen is paranoid schizophrenic, suffering from depression and social anxiety. After about a month, police issued a silver alert.
Jalen used to go camping and walking in the woods near Earlham College. Since he’s gone missing, his parents have kept coming back there looking for answers.
“Every bicycle we see riding down the street, we take a second look just to make sure it’s not him. Every person walking down the street — We do have fliers everywhere,” says Isaac.
“I can’t give up. I never will,” vows Tiffany.
The same sentiment is echoed by Michelle McCown whose sister went missing from Richmond.
“We still are searching. Every day. Every minute of the day,” states Michelle.
Michelle’s sister, Niqui McCown, disappeared from a laundromat in July 2001.
Since about 2014, Michelle has become an advocate for the group “We Help the Missing.”
“It ain’t just about Niqui in my life at this point. It’s about all the missing in this world,” says Michelle. “There’s so many missing people. People don’t just vanish.”
“We Help the Missing” is a nonprofit made up of volunteers like Kay Nolan who is a case liaison. She lives in Kentucky, but serves families all over the U.S. The group works with law enforcement and private detectives to keep cases alive.
“It breaks my heart. I think one person missing is one too many,” says Kay. “It’s real to them. It’s a nightmare.”
The organization has made it their mission to help hurting families like the McCuins and the McCowns never give up hope.
Michelle has taken advice from another local family whose nine-year-old daughter, Erica Baker, disappeared from the Miami Valley in 1999.
“I can remember what Erica Baker’s father told me and has stuck with me. And he said whatever you do, the only way to not let them forget Niqui is keep her in the media,” says Michelle. “And then I passed it along to Jalen’s family. And hopefully one day they can use the information they come away with and pass it along to another family who might be in need,” says Michelle.
“I know there’s some person out there that knows something,” cries Tiffany.
“We just want the closure,” states Isaac.
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