ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) - The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children commemorated this day by holding a safety and children's ID event with help from the Alexandria Police Department.
Parents left with their children's fingerprints and photos. The center's workers want parents to keep talking to their children about safety.
For Center employee Juriese Colon, her interest in protecting children began close to home. Colon grew up in Spotsylvania County and knew Kristin and Kati Lisk, who were abducted from their front yard in 1997.
"It really had an impact on me at that point. I wanted to do something. I just felt so bad. It really touched my heart," Colon said.
She decided to study criminal justice in college... about the time the Center for missing and exploited children helped solve the Lisk Case. Their killer was sociopath Richard Marc Evonitz who also killed Sofia Silva after abducted her from her front porch in September of 1996.
The girls' abductions match the most common type. The Center found in a recent study that most abductions occur during the hours of 2:00 -7:00 p.m. when children are often alone. She says there were 800,000 attempted abductions last year, but thankfully, more than 80% of the children got away. They ran, kicked, screamed, and in some cases, a bystander intervened.
Colon has this advice:
- Make sure children alone after school know their surroundings.
- Take them on a tour of their neighborhood, point out safe houses where trusted adults are well known.
- Map out a route for your children if they walk home.
- If someone else will be picking them up, have a code word they both know so your children isn't tempted to go with a stranger who has a convincing story.
Colon says there are good conversation starters to help parents talk to their children about possible abduction and what to do if they ever find themselves in danger.
Evonitz wasn't caught until 2002 in Columbia, South Carolina. He had he abducted a 15-year old girl who was watering flowers in a friend's yard. He took her to his apartment where tied her to his bad and raped her repeatedly. While he slept that night, the girl was able to free herself and escape. When he awoke and found her gone, Evonitz fled to Sarasota, Florida. When police caught up to him, he killed himself.
Written by Peggy Fox/Follow me @PeggyTV