As a part of WUSA9's effort to help find missing children, we aired a special across our all platforms -- television, website and Facebook -- on May 10 at 7 p.m. to help Bring Our Kids Home.
A month-long kickoff began on April 24 and will end on May 25, National Missing Children's Day.
Anchor Lesli Foster hosted the special alongside John Walsh, known from America's Most Wanted and Justice Network and his son, Callahan Walsh, who now both work extensively with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The special featured a panel of guests including Chelsey Trevino, of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative; Montgomery County Police Sgt. Kathy Estrada; Meghan Huebner, of Second Story; and Derrica Wilson, Co-Founder & CEO, Black and Missing Foundation.
The special covered a range of issues, from child sex trafficking, community and policing efforst to prevent runaways and we talked about the technology that is helping to track down missing children cases and resources for parents to use.
Click here for more resources for parents and community members.
PANEL OF EXPERTS
JOHN WALSH is the Emmy®-winning, internationally renowned host and executive producer of America’s Most Wanted – the groundbreaking reality program that’s helped law enforcement capture more than 1,100 dangerous fugitives and brought home more than 50 missing children since its debut in 1988. The program aired on FOX for 24 seasons. Currently, Walsh is featured Sunday nights on CNN’s, The Hunt. Walsh never sought the role of a crime fighter and victims’ advocate, but this has been his life’s mission since July 27, 1981 – the day his only child, Adam, was abducted from a mall near his home in Hollywood, Florida. Adam was found murdered two weeks later.
The case remained unsolved for 27 years. But in December, 2008, after a long investigation that was re-opened by the Hollywood Police Department – and with assistance from dedicated active and retired criminal justice professionals – Adam’s case was finally closed. Long-time prime suspect Ottis Toole was undeniably named as the killer of Adam Walsh. Toole – a drifter with a long criminal record – died years earlier in prison, while serving time for other crimes. Although the resolution of Adam’s case finally gave John and his family closure to this chapter of their lives, the pain of their loss always lives on.
Born in Auburn, New York and educated at the University of Buffalo, John moved to Florida with his wife, Revé, and had been a successful hotel developer before Adam’s tragic murder.
The Walshes’ experience showed them that the nation was in desperate need of leadership in the fight to protect children. Out of their pain, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) was created in 1984, after President Ronald Reagan signed the “Missing Children’s Assistance Act.” The NCMEC is the premier child protection non-profit, providing invaluable resources to parents, children and law enforcement in the United States and internationally. The charity consistently receives an A rating for its spending of more than 90 cents of every dollar raised on programming. The NCMEC’s incredible partnerships with the public and private sector demonstrate its respect as an effective non-profit.
NBC’s airing of two movies about the Walsh family’s story, "Adam" in 1983 and "Adam: His Song Continues" in 1986, woke the nation up to the reality of child abduction and dramatized the incredible heartbreak and resilience of the Walshes. In a bold and courageous move, the network ran a roll call of missing children at the end of the movies, leading to the recovery of 65 children.
A hero to law enforcement, John has been honored numerous times by many local, state and federal agencies. In addition to being named “Man of the Year” by both the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI, John was also made an honorary U.S. Marshal. He is only the third man to receive this honor in the organization’s two hundred-plus-year history.
The entertainment industry has also recognized John’s contributions to television. In 2011, John received the prestigious Governor’s Award at the Creative Arts Emmy® Awards, a distinction voted upon by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors which “salutes an individual, company or organization that has made a substantial impact and demonstrated the extraordinary use of television.” That same year, John was recognized by AFTRA as the recipient of the Foundation’s AMEE Award in Entertainment.
John’s three best-selling books: Tears of Rage, No Mercy and Public Enemies, tell his family’s story and about the toughest AMW cases he’s worked on.
Although he's never held political office, John’s been the driving force behind major pieces of child protection legislation. This hard work led to him being honored five times by four presidents: Ronald Reagan (twice), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
On July 27, 2006 – 25 years to the day since Adam’s abduction – at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, President George W. Bush signed a new, resolute law to track and apprehend convicted sex offenders who disappear after their release from prison: The “Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.” July 27th is now a bittersweet day for the Walshes; it’s a date that marks the worst day of their lives in 1981, but also a day that brings hope to families who seek justice and answers, because of the law named for their son.
John and Revé were blessed with three more children after Adam: Meghan, Callahan and Hayden. John and his wife continue to fight for victims’ rights and for justice throughout the United States and wherever children or crime victims are in need.
CALLAHAN WALSH is a child advocate for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). He is the son of John and Revé Walsh, who co-founded NCMEC in 1984 after the kidnapping and murder of their first son Adam Walsh. Callahan can regularly be seen on various media outlets such as Good Morning America, ABC and CNN promoting NCMEC’s programs. Prior to joining the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Callahan served as the Supervising Producer for America’s Most Wanted on FOX and was the co-creator of The Hunt with John Walsh on CNN. Following in his parent’s footsteps, Callahan has focused his energy on helping find missing children, reducing child sexual exploitation and preventing child victimization.
DERRICA WILSON, Cofounder and CEO of Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., has the passion, energy and drive to make the world a better place for all people, especially children.
Mrs. Wilson was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is a loving wife and mother of two, who firmly believes that children deserve love and that their lives matter.
In 2000, Mrs. Wilson began her career in law enforcement with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Department in Virginia. After two years there, she accepted a position with the City of Falls Church Police Department, becoming a trailblazer as the first and only African-American female officer. During her career in law enforcement, Mrs. Wilson always looked for ways to improve the communities she served. Through a fresh set of eyes and a heart to serve Mrs. Wilson noticed the need to add and revamp programs to protect children. She implemented and participated in numerous initiatives to make sure children were safe. Lo and behold this seed has been a blessing to so many children and families.
In 2010, Mrs. Wilson switched career paths and began working for the District of Columbia Government. She continues to ensure that all employees, contractors, and citizens in her path are protected. Mrs. Wilson’s integrity and dedication are exemplary.
Mrs. Wilson has been seen on The View, Good Morning America, CNN and TV One just to name a few. She was also featured in Essence, People, and The Washington Post. Mrs. Wilson truly enjoys volunteering her time to educate communities regarding missing persons. She is truly a humble individual, always wearing her cape ready to spring into action.
Mrs. Wilson will continue to be the voice for families to raise awareness of missing persons of color.
CHELSEY TREVINO moved to Northern Virginia in July of 2014 from Houston TX, where she first learned of human trafficking. In the fall of 2012 a local anti-trafficking NGO opened her eyes not only to the injustice that was happening in the world, but in her own backyard. On a tour of the city of Houston, she came face to face with brothels and strip clubs that were not in dark back alley, but in high traffic areas of the city. The anti-trafficking NGO, Elijah Rising, intimately understood the complicated dynamic of trafficking, the evil involved and the upfront place the church has. From that moment on, Chelsey began working with Elijah Rising in awareness, intervention and intercessory prayer for those oppressed. When her husband was transferred to D.C. she knew her calling to fight for the oppressed was not over. After researching anti-trafficking NGOs in the area, she was drawn to NOVA Human Trafficking Initiative, as the organization is based on prayer and equipping the church to be part of the fight. Now NOVA HTI, she serves as a Co-Director of Intercessory Prayer, Director of Finances, is on the Intervention Team, and is on the Board of Directors. She is also the coordinator for the annual Human Trafficking Justice Summit. You can reach her at email@example.com.
MEGHAN HUEBNER is the Vice President for Residential Services at Second Story (formerly the Alternative House), a private non-profit offering safe shelter and support to youth and families throughout Fairfax County, Virginia. Meghan is responsible for Second Story for Teens in Crisis, a three-week program for runaway and homeless youth; Second Story for Young Mothers, a housing program for pregnant and parenting young mothers; and Second Story for Homeless Youth, a housing and case management program for homeless and unaccompanied youth and young adults. Meghan received a MSW from the Columbia University School of Social Work and is an LMSW in the state of New York. Prior to Second Story, Meghan worked in New York in the domestic violence and mental health fields, as well as with at-risk youth. Meghan first began at Second Story in 2001 and has worked for the agency for a total of thirteen years.