Crimewatch: Fake missing person cases

Recently two reports of abductions have stolen the headlines only to be disproven. Police say the victims made up elaborate stories of assault. In the meantime, there are real cases of missing persons that officers are desperate to solve.

On November 11th, Southwestern University was put on lockdown as Georgetown police responded to a vehicle belonging to 27-year-old Delisha Thomas.

Officers say Thomas called 9-1-1 reporting that she had been kidnapped, held captive, sexually assaulted for two days and locked in the trunk of her car. She also claimed that her attacker doused her in bleach.

After more than a week of investigating officers said Thomas came clean.

"She went so far as to say it was all made up," said Captain Roland Waits, Georgetown PD.

Thomas was arrested for false report to a police officer.

On December 2nd, Fayette County deputies jumped into action when a 13-year-old Flatonia girl claimed to have been abducted from school. She also claimed to have been assaulted.

After alerting the media, investigators later said it was all a lie. The teen now faces a false report charge.

APD Missing Persons Detective J.J. Schmidt believes that's the right course of action, "When you get folks who are children or elderly we pull a lot of resources to try to intercept that child or that adult. So there's a lot that goes into that. When you come back around and realize that your information maybe wasn't valid, that's when people need to be held responsible for that because that is a crime."

His office has received 3,671 reports involving missing people this year. That accounts for 478 missing adults, 115 missing children and 2587 runaways. Schmidt says the majority of missing people are recovered.

Patrol officers are first to respond to determine the urgency.

"Find out how old are they, is there foul play suspected, are they elderly, what's the weather like. We really try and get a picture of who's missing and why," Schmidt said. "In addition to that we have to look at the mental state, are they suicidal? Have they made threats to harm someone else or themselves?"

Why anyone would fake a disappearance, Schmidt can only guess.

"You have the mental stability of people, you have narcotics use, you have just the cry for attention because there is something else going on in their life they need that attention. Typically we can get to that point, we just don't have it right off the start," said Schmidt.

Schmidt's unit works side-by-side with cold case homicide. Investigators are currently focusing their efforts on 15 missing person cases where foul play is believed to be involved. That includes Gracie Nash. December 26th marks 30 years since she disappeared.

"She was taken from her place of work in the evening. It's still classified as missing persons. We don't know what happened," Schmidt said.

Officers say the 39-year-old mom was last seen at what used to be the Eastfare Nursing Home located at 2820 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Her car was found not far from there two days later at the intersection of east 22nd street and maple.

"We recovered some physical evidence with her vehicle that was recovered a couple days later and it was obvious signs of a struggle. A violent attack took place," said Schmidt. "So we're got to pick the pieces up from there and try and figure out what happened."

Schmidt has a suspect in mind, but needs more information. He feels there are people who know what happened. He hopes they'll come forward.

"We're coming up on the 30th anniversary and for a daughter who is still in the Austin area there is a family that needs to get some closure to that case," Schmidt said.

With such serious cases, Schmidt hopes anyone wishing to pretend be in that situation would think twice.

"You have to think about those things up front and not tax our system. It's already a lot of burden on it so we need all those available resources we have for the appropriate response," said Schmidt.

View more APD Missing Person cases

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