"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
same night I found Todd Matthews online, I also found Shawna Kirk, at the
National Center for Endangered Missing Adults (firstname.lastname@example.org),
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."
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.
will see a face from the past as it might appear today in what will be a
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 brother...you give us renewed strength in
purpose and true inspiration. You are an amazing compliment to the cause.
Author: Todd Matthews