Voice Platform and Support Network for Families of Missing and Victims of Crime
|Mounted Search Team Answers Call|
There aren’t many times you can say it was “bitterly cold”in Las Vegas, but Saturday morning was one of them, as I stood at the desert’s edge in the far Southwest part of the valley. A group of hardy, dedicated volunteers had assembled from the Nevada Center For Missing Loved Ones (NCMLO), and were getting ready to start a search for human remains in the area. Some hikers had found human bones several weeks ago, but none of them usable in identifying a person without the use of expensive DNA testing. With police resources thin for conducting widespread searches, the NCMLO volunteers take it upon themselves to try to find more remains that could resolve the case.
Frank Mahoney, a retired police officer, has spent the past twelve years working on hundreds of cases with various missing persons agencies. He founded the NCMLO in 2007, and has become a regular go-to person for Metro and County law enforcement agencies that simply can’t respond to missing persons reports with extensive resources. Although the group focuses special attention on missing sufferers of Dementia and Alzheimer’s, the NCMLO will respond to any request for help and do not require a mandatory “waiting period”. Today’s search comes at the request of the local Coroner’s office, and Frank says he wants to do all he can to “bring closure to the family”of this missing person.
About a dozen horsemen and women had gathered in the frigid wind and pelting rain, along with another half dozen ATV’s and a few brave hikers. Each volunteer was given red flag markers and instructed not to touch anything found. Local police were on alert to respond in case remains were located. The group was divided with the ATV’s to cover ground farther away across the railway tracks, and mounted responders to cover approx. 2-4 square miles in the area where the original bones were found. These had shown signs of animal activity, so any other remains were likely to be strewn across the desert. Frank showed everyone some examples of what they were seeking, especially long bone or skull pieces.
The riders lined up in a row approximately 15-20 feet apart and began together at a walk. Horseback seems the ideal way to search, with rider gaining a higher vantage point and covering more ground than on foot. I recognized several people from recent events, including Joel Ostrovsky from the Sin City Mounted Shooters, and Sharon Fiato who had competed recently at the ACTHA event in Sandy Valley. It was wonderful to see these people give up their Saturday morning to brave freezing temps and help in the search. The team covered about eight miles in conjunction with the hikers and ATV’s. On the other side of the train tracks, the ATV’s did locate bones from a hand, so the group will be sending mounted riders out another day to search the uphill terrain, which is easier to access on horseback.
Mary Figueras is the contact person for the mounted unit of the NCMLO. She and her 11-yr old Morgan “Shadow”were part of the search team on Saturday.. Several years ago, Mahoney had contacted the Nevada Horse Council for help in finding a suicide victim whose vehicle was found in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Although they were unable to locate his remains, the family was overwhelmingly grateful for the extra effort made by the mounted unit. Mary said she felt they had done something very positive for the victim’s loved ones. “They were so thankful that we helped share their pain, and let them know that their loved one was not forgotten”.
The mounted unit and NCMLO are currently in need of volunteers, and especially donations. Their funds are extremely low for everything from purchasing ink for printing the Missing Persons flyers, to the need for a dozen GPS 2-way radios and GPS marking system for logging coordinates during a search. Mounted volunteers must be over 21, pass a police background check, and be a competent trail rider. They have just begun training with the Metro Mounted police and are setting up further training with Metro Search and Rescue. If you would like further information on joining the group or making a donation, please contact:email@example.com or visit www.ncmlo.org.