16th Annual National Missing Person Conference underway in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Wilmington for the National Missing Persons Conference, hosted by the CUE Center for Missing Persons.

CUE is an acronym for “Community United Effort”. The organization, located in Wilmington offers services nationwide to help those that are searching for their missing loved ones.

This the 16th annual National Missing Persons Conference.

The conference kicked off on Thursday, March 23, and will run through Sunday, March 26.

It’s the first time the four-day event has been held in 3 years due to the pandemic, and nearly 300 people registered to attend.

Harriet Rivers, mother of Wilmington woman Ebonee Spears, who was last seen in January of 2016, says she is thankful for the conference.

“I missed this when we had –we couldn’t do this at COVID. I missed this. Even though, I get anxiety the night before, but once I get here, it just brings everybody together people in the same situation that I am, and it’s just good to hear their story compared to my story, and just like we say, none of us is really too different,” said Harriet Rivers, Ebonee Spears’ mother.

The event gives attendees a chance to connect with other people who are dealing with, or have dealt with missing loved ones.

Another mother, Carolyn Parsons, biological mother to Erica Parsons, a North Carolina teen who was last seen in 2011, and whose remains were later found in South Carolina in 2016. She said the conference is another opportunity for her to honor and remember her daughter.

“I’m honored to be here. The more I can share of Erica’s story, the more I can share of Erica’s life. If Erica’s story,…Erica’s life, and Erica’s face, save’s one child –save’s one person, Erica did not go in vain,” said Carolyn Parson, Erica Parsons’ biological mother.

There will be free training sessions from experts in the search, investigation, and victim support field. In addition, a look at some of the technology, tools, and methods for solving crime.

“Families need it, people need it, volunteers need to hear the stories from the families to be impacted by it, and the families need the reunion with other families, and unfortunately some are still hearing their loved one’s still missing, but when they’re recovered they come even then, and it’s like a family reunion. I watched the different conversations and the hugs, and the tears, and it’s just a very needed conference.”

The National Candlelight Service will be held on Saturday, March 25, at 7:30 pm at the Water Street Park in downtown Wilmington, to honor missing persons and those who have been recovered in Wilmington and across the country.

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