Searching for a Loved One

Ralph Lape
Ralph Lape

Searching for a Loved One
By: Holly Brantley

A missing loved one is enough cause for concern, but that may not be the worst part.  Some run into more red tape than help, while searching for someone who's vanished. 

For example, Tonya Rider, a Washington state woman disappeared on her way home from work. Amazingly, police found her alive Thursday night eight days later.  Her husband, Tom Rider, tried to file a missing persons report, but questions of jurisdiction, and doubts about his story slowed things down.

Too many Heartland families know what it's like to search for a missing loved one. Some of those stories have happy endings.  Many remain unsolved and some say it's impossible to find closure even when the case is solved.
One of those families is that of Ralph Lape.  Their life was turned upside down back in July of 2002.  Lape's sister, daughter, and family members searched for him with no idea of his fate.  They spoke with Heartland News about the emotional process.
"I remember thinking, I don't believe I'm doing this," said Diane Miller, Lape's sister. "He'll call, he'll call tonight."
Miller, and Lape's daughter, Megan recall the anxious days after he disappeared.
"When he didn't show up for the closing of his house, I thought probably something is wrong," said Miller.
Before they learned his fate, they worked to try and find him. It took nearly a month before they would discover Lape was kidnapped and murdered.
"The police were great," said Miller. "They met us at his house and asked a lot of questions. When you get to that point, you just want to do anything to find them."
Lt. Jerry Bledsoe of the Scott County Sheriff's Department explains what to do if your loved one is missing.  First, you file a missing person's report.  Then, that person's name goes into a statewide and national data base to search.  In Scott County, they begin searching immediately.
"We don't wait 24 hours anymore," said Bledsoe.
Diane Miller offers this advice to other families should they ever be faced with the search for a loved one.
"Keep busy," said Miller. "You have to do as much as you can. Look everywhere. Talk to everyone."
Lt. Bledsoe says they never give up on a missing person's case.  Many will remember Cheryl Ann Schere who went missing in 1979.  Bledsoe says they followed a lead on that story just this week.