Getting Away with Murder

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

The drama "Without A Trace" aired on WIFR is a drama about the missing persons squad of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their job is to re-trace the steps of a missing person to determine if the person has been abducted, murdered, committed suicide, or simply has just runaway. The show reconstructs every minute of the 24 hours prior to the disappearance of the victim. While locally the same steps are taken to find missing people, it's not always accomplished within an hour.

For almost a week Janette's 16-year-old daughter Anjuanette Coleman has been missing. She's runaway before so Janette is hopping that's just the case again. Runaway cases are something that law enforcement handle the most. But not every missing person wants to be found. Until that can be proved, investigators treat every case as if foul play was involved.

One of the most well known cases in Rockford happened at Searls Park. On May 27, 1987 Tammy Tracey washed her car at a friends house then came to the park to wax it. Fifteen years later detectives continue to look for her killer.

For eleven months a special task force combed Searls Park several times. A reward fund was built to over $30,000. And finally on April 16, 11 months after Tammy disappeared skeletal remains found in Sugar River Forest Preserve in Winnebago County. They were positively identified to that of Tammy Tracey. Rockford Deputy Chief of Detectives Dominic Lasparro says this is a case police want to solve and know people in the community know what happened.

This past November, Boone County Sheriff's department searched Picasaw Creek for 25-year-old Brynn Null. Investigators in that case say they will wait until the weather warms up to continue searching.

Another active case is Michelle McLaughlin who disappeared in December of 2001. Michelle set out to visit friends in Champaign and was never seen again. Investigators still add to her file things like dental records just incase. But still no leads.

When investigators need assistance with search techniques, they often turn to the FBI. And unlike the television show, local FBI. only immediately become involved if a child below the age of 12 is missing or if the person is transported across the Stateline.

One other fact that television often exploits is if anyone is missing you do not have to wait 24 hours to file a report. If you have any information on the Tammy Tracey case call the Rockford Crimestoppers at 963-7867 or toll free at 1-888-769-STOP. Any information on Brynn Null or Michelle McLaughlin, call Boone County Crimestoppers at 815-547-7867.


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