Every 40 seconds, a child in the United States becomes missing or is abducted. Of the thousands of people who go missing in the country each year, especially tragic are the disappearances of the young and vulnerable. The good news regarding missing child cases is more than 99% of kids reported missing in America each year come home alive, according to Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The Polly Klaas Foundation assists in the recovery of missing children, in part by maintaining an online database. It currently holds the names and information of more than 9,300 kids reported missing since 1994. While 85% of these have been located, the rest remain missing.
Here we’ll list the 15 states with the most missing children reported since 1994, based on the Polly Klaas Foundation website. We’ll highlight a current missing child case from each of those states. As you’ll see, the state with the most reported missing kids since 1994 has a total number 45 times greater than the average number per state.
- Number of reported missing children since 1994: 124
- A toddler and his aunt remain missing after possibly being taken across state lines.
In one case from 2015, two-year-old King Walker, his aunt, Diamond Bynum, and his grandmother settled down for an afternoon nap in their home in Gary, Indiana. When his grandmother woke up, King and Bynum were gone from the house and nowhere to be found outside. The family believed Bynum, 21, took King for a walk and the two became lost. Bynum is developmentally disabled, and the two may have met with foul play.
After a Silver Alert was issued, Bynum’s mother stated that numerous people claimed to see the missing pair with an unknown woman at White Castle and Checkers restaurants in Chicago. The family believes someone possibly lured the pair when they were lost and has been keeping them ever since. To this day, they have not been found.
Next: A boy vanished from his dead-end street.
- Number of reported missing children since 1994: 130
- A 12-year-old playing with his dogs vanished from his dead-end street.
One boy who maybe vanished from his own block was 12-year-old Steven Earl Kraft, Jr. from Benton Harbor, Michigan. The boy was last seen playing with his two dogs near his home in February 2001. The green-eyed, sandy-brown haired boy was wearing a Hornets jacket and parachute pants. He often played on his dead-end street or in the nearby woods. On this cold evening, his family knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home by curfew. Both dogs were soon found, but Steven was never heard from again.
Hundreds of friends, family, and police officers searched for days in the bitter cold, but nothing came up. Searchers looked through forests, fields, and empty houses. Ponds and streams were scoured, all to no avail. Although there is no physical evidence to this day, police are sure that someone knows what happened to Steven, and they continue to search. He would be 29 years old this year.
Next: A girl disappeared on the short walk from 7-11.
- Number of reported missing children since 1994: 150
- An 11-year-old girl vanished while walking a few hundred feet from a 7-11.
One Reno, Nevada child who seemingly disappeared without a trace was 11-year-old Jennifer Martin. She vanished while walking back from a 7-11, a few hundred feet from her home in 1987. The freckle-faced girl had gone to the store from her Lemmon Valley trailer park around 3 p.m. She bought soda and a candy bar. She walked out of the store and turned left toward home and was never seen again.
“She would never in a million years get in a vehicle with someone she didn’t know or even someone she did know if she didn’t have permission to,” said Colleen Martin, Jennifer’s sister. “And she wasn’t shy. She had no problem telling an adult off.”
A defrocked priest was named a suspect in this case and the disappearances of three other children in 2002. Police searched the former priest’s yard using cadaver-sniffing dogs, radar, and a backhoe. The only item located was a bag full of decomposed clothing. To this day, whatever happened to Jennifer Martin remains a mystery.
Next: A high school honors student’s whereabouts remain a mystery.