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Doe Network Member Profiles : Laura Allen

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"Facing Ghosts from the past"

Some of the members to the Doe Network find us as they seek missing pieces from their past. As Laura Allen sought her brother, Tony Allen, in cyberspace, she found a niche in the Doe Network.

Laura is this editions featured member. Laura became a very active member in the Doe Network as she found she can help others as she helps herself. Laura is the Doe Network Family/Loved One Liaison and she use her experience with having a missing loved one to help others and we would like to commend her for her selflessness in doing this. If you are a family member or friend of a missing person & need support, suggestions or general help : Please Contact : Laura Allen, The Doe Network Family Liason She will be happy to help you in any way she can.

Laura has written a wonderful outline of her search for her brother. Very descriptive and I would like to include it in it's entirety.

"When I was an infant my brother was two years old. He was talking to me one day, telling me he loved me, and asked me if I loved him. Apparently, I made a face or smiled, which indicated to him that the answer was yes. He exclaimed, "Momma, Lawa love me!" (He couldn't pronounce his Rs.) He was thrilled to know his baby sister loved him. I grew up hearing this story and feeling good about the fact that it was important to that little boy to know this."

"We have an older sister and a younger sister. Tony and I were in the middle, with two years and four days between us. Because our birthdays were only four days apart, we often celebrated them together. We were very close-we were even baptized together. He was my big brother-always watching out for me, making me laugh, playing with me, helping me out with things, and doing nice things for me. I especially remember one time him walking up to the store and bringing me back a pack of Bubblicious Bubble Gum when I was sick."

"Between his ninth and tenth grade years at school, he got to where he did his own thing. He would take off for a few days, then come back home, then he'd leave again. But he always kept in touch. He liked people and was always making friends. Some of them we knew, and some we didn't. By the time I was 14 and he was 16, we had different friends and different activities. He was always on the move, and I liked being close to home, family, and my circle of friends."

"After October of 1978 Tony never called or came home again. The days turned into weeks, Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went. He was considered by the police to be a runaway. The weeks turned into months, and the months turned into a year. Before his 18th birthday my Dad officially filed the missing persons report and the information was taken down. "

"My Dad's job with a large corporation had transferred our family to Arkansas from another state several years earlier, so we had no relatives close-by. We had no idea about how missing persons investigations were conducted, or what to expect. We leaned on each other."

"Over the years, we were always watching and waiting, expecting him to return or the police to find him. I remember so many times while driving down the road I would see someone walking who reminded me of him. I would turn around and drive back by in order to get a better look. One time, well after dark, I stopped my car and asked a guy who was walking along the road what his name was. I couldn't get a good look because it was dark, but I would know Tony's voice. It wasn't him Members of my family have picked up hitchhikers and fed them, simply because they knew they would want someone to do the same for Tony. We were told by his friend that he had gone to Oklahoma. Then we heard he was seen back in our area. Several years later I was visiting my sister while she was in college in Oklahoma City. We took the OKC phonebook and looked up all the Allens we could, hunting down the addresses to anyone with a name close to his. Finding ourselves in places we didn't belong, we finally got scared and went back to campus."

"Overall, I can't tell you, or even guess at the number of times we've put ourselves in vulnerable situations because of the slightest chance we might find him or find something out about him. It's not a complaint-just a fact. It's what we did."

"The years went by and life goes on, but forgetting was never an option-no matter how hard I tried. I grew particularly stubborn by refusing to talk about my brother or his disappearance at all. If the subject came up within the family, I left the room. If I was out somewhere and saw someone I thought would ask me about it, I turned the other way. My anger and resentment built up, but I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it was because I felt betrayed, abandoned, and angry at him for doing such a thing-but maybe Tony didn't betray or abandon me. Maybe he couldn't help it. Maybe it wasn't his fault. Whose fault was it? Human nature dictates that we place blame somewhere, because we want a way to explain things. If I can explain it, then it will make sense, and it won't feel so bad. I continued this distorted thinking for years. Now I know that sometimes things just happen, and we do the best we can with what we have."

"I'm married and have my own son who is 16 now. A couple of years ago I started doing double-takes of him because he would do something that reminded me of Tony. Relatives, and my friends who knew my brother, would comment on how much my son looked like him. Panic set in, and I knew I had to face the ghost from my past. This made me angry too, because I didn't want to face it."

"I began talking out my hurt with my family and a few very close friends. Finally, I came to the conclusion that Tony was gone, so let's just have a memorial service and put him to rest. We lost a member of our family, and I wanted some acknowledgement, something that would give us closure. Well, how do you do that when you don't know where they are or what happened to them? I thought maybe I should look for him one more time. One day Mom said she wasn't ready to let go, she didn't want to have a memorial service without knowing for sure. She wasn't ready to give him up for dead. That was all I needed to hear. Something clicked in me and I knew it was time to give it all I've got, and not quit until I did."

"We had done some internet searching at one time or another with no results. Late on January 17th of this year, I was surfing the internet and ran across the story of The Tent Girl. I read it with fascination, and found myself encouraged that after so many years her family finally received some closure."

"At the end of the story was Todd Matthews' email address, and for the first time in my life I emailed a stranger. I told him that I had read the story and was encouraged by it, and I told him about my own brother who was missing. I asked him for any advice or suggestions he could give me in conducting my own search. In less than an hour I received a reply from Todd asking me for more information on my brother, and offering suggestions for my search. He asked me if he was listed in the NCIC, but I didn't know the answer to that. I had only recently learned what the NCIC was. Todd told me if we had a photo we could post him on The Doe Network. He also sent me a list of unidentifieds to look through."

"I contacted our local police department to get a copy of the original MP report because I knew I needed this to get him into the NCIC. I was told that unfortunately, all records prior to 1987 were stored in a warehouse, which was blown away in a tornado. A detective from that office had worked on the case in 1989 or 1990, so I figured it would be in the system. I went down to the PD, but when they checked the system my brother was not in it. The next day I contacted the head of the detective division. When I did, I was told it was no problem to get the report re-filed and get Tony entered into the NCIC. However, when my Mom and I arrived later that day, we were told it was a jurisdictional issue and they would not file a report."

"The same night I found Todd Matthews online, I also found Shawna Kirk, at the National Center for Endangered Missing Adults (, who guided me along on the local level. My brother was soon posted on The Doe Network, our retired dentist's son took over his practice and still had my brother's records in his attic, a local detective took an interest in the case….Eventually, the missing persons report was re-filed and my brother was entered into the NCIC."

"Word got out to our local media about the case being reopened and a local TV station called me wanting an interview. I've never been more nervous about doing something in my life, but I knew had to do it. Later, when I watched the interview, for the first time in my life I looked at myself and realized this is who I am…this made me the woman I am today. No more guilt, no more shame, no more denial. We're human, there are times we need help, and we definitely need help finding my brother. "

"A lot of things have changed, some things haven't. Tony's Christmas presents stayed in the hall closet for years-I believe Mom still has them somewhere. All of our grandparents passed away. Our parents have been married for nearly 46 years, and I am so thankful they worked so hard to keep things as normal as possible for us. My sisters and I have families of our own, and our children are growing up quickly."

"When I first came to Doe, I was apprehensive about the exposure that it would bring. When you've lived so many years of your life with so many people being fascinated about your deepest hurt, and curious for details, you tend to shy away. But, the members immediately embraced me, my family, and my brother. Any curiosity is out of genuine concern and for the express purpose of helping to find my brother. I cannot explain what it feels like to be able to say, "My brother was real, he existed, we love him, and we want to know what has happened to him."

"There's no right or wrong way to respond to this kind of crisis. There is no protocol for our situation. But, after almost a lifetime of experience, I now know that there are compassionate people who truly care and want to help."

"I don't feel like I've worked on this investigation- I surrendered it. And once I did, the doors began opening. I faced the ghost from my past. I faced my reality."

-Laura Allen

Many of us have had to face our reality and Laura has described it perfectly.

Project EDAN artist Barbara Martin is currently at work on Tony's age progression.

Soon Laura will see a face from the past as it might appear today in what will be a bittersweet moment.

I hope that we can help her gaze upon the face her brother in real life one day.

Thanks Laura for sharing with us a sister's undying love for her give us renewed strength in purpose and true inspiration. You are an amazing compliment to the cause.

Author: Todd Matthews


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