In 2018, 19,879 children were reported missing, according to the 2018 Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse Report, conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Of those children, 19,510 were found safe by the end of the year — about 98 percent.
Of the total number of missing children, 10,643 were girls and 9,236 were boys. Most missing children were between the ages of 13 and 17.
For the cases in which authorities were able to determine the circumstances of a child’s disappearance, the largest portion of missing children — 12,069 — were classified as runaways.
Another 48 were reported abducted by a noncustodial parent, and six were abducted by a stranger. Two children were found dead after being reported missing.
The attorney general’s office also provided 2018 statistics for missing children in the four-county area:
• Huron County: 19 children reported missing, 19 were found.
• Erie County: 92 children reported missing, 90 were found.
• Sandusky County: 41 children reported missing, 41 were found.
• Ottawa County: 3 children reported missing, 3 were found.
Those numbers reflect information police agencies entered into a the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, according to the report. It’s possible actual numbers of missing children reports are higher than the database reflects.
The two Erie County children who remain missing from last year, now ages 17 and 18, are both listed as “endangered runaways” in the Ohio Missing Person database.
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said the 92 children reported missing in the county was the lowest number in five years. It’s not clear why Erie County’s number is significantly higher than other area counties, but Sigsworth thought a higher population in Erie County could be a contributing factor.
Sigsworth and other members of local law enforcement said while many missing children cases are resolved quickly, it’s something they take very seriously and will devote their resources to finding the child.
“We’re glad to do that,” Sigsworth said. “The last thing we want is for a child to come to harm.”
Child runaway cases can be dangerous because, sometimes, children go to see people they met online and there’s a danger of human trafficking, Sandusky County Sheriff Chris Hilton said.
Sigsworth emphasized children thinking about running away from home need to get help.
“No matter how bad think life is … talk to a counselor,” he said. “There are people and agencies that are able to help.”
Area AMBER alert
Authorities issue AMBER Alerts when a person younger than 18 years old is suspected of being abducted and believed to be at risk of being harmed or killed.
Ten AMBER Alerts were issued in Ohio last year, the report states, and one of those originated in Sandusky.
On March 16, 2018, Sandusky police issued an AMBER alert for 4-year-old Sandusky boy D’Quai Hemchak, who was reported abducted from a vehicle. Police found Hemchak safe in Warren County, Ohio, near Cincinnati, the same day.
Jennifer Hemchak, 36, who police said was a noncustodial parent of D’Quai, was arrested. She later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor inducing panic and received a suspended jail sentence, according to Sandusky municipal court records.
Another woman, Tamara Montalvo, 38, of Florida, pleaded no contest to a complicity to inducing panic charge related to the incident, and also received a suspended jail sentence, court records state.
It was the only AMBER Alert ever issued by Sandusky police, Orzech said.
By the numbers
• There were 19 attempted abductions reported in Ohio last year, involving 14 girls and five boys.
• 37 percent of abduction suspects used a vehicle.
• 48 percent of all incidents occurred when children were walking to, or from, school.
• 61 percent of abductions occurred between 2-7 p.m.
Source: Ohio Attorney General’s Office