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Marizela Perez: Missing One Month
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On March 5, 2011, one month ago, my 18-year-old cousin Marizela (“Emem” to her family, “Mei” to her friends) vanished after walking out of a Safeway grocery store in Seattle’s University District.

This is one of the many ClearChannel Outdoor billboards across the West Coast that’s featuring Marizela and our family tip line for information about her disappearance:

This is the awareness-raising bracelet Marizela’s friends are selling to help the family:

One month later, we have on our own searched adjacent parks, streets, and neighborhoods for any signs or clues. We hired a private investigator. We put up a website. We are raising money and reaching out to private professional K-9 search/rescue/recovery teams for assistance.

One month later, it is difficult to get calls returned from the Seattle Police Department.

One month later, it is difficult to get local and national media to follow-up on her story.

One month later, there isn’t a morning or night that we haven’t thought about her, cried for her, ached for her return.

One month later, there isn’t a morning or night that we haven’t prayed for her and her parents.

And one month later, there isn’t a spare moment I haven’t been on the phone working her case, doing research, begging for help, calling up old friends, e-mailing strangers for advice, pulling any strings I can find, and lobbying law enforcement to do more.

Families across the country who have been through similar plights know the frustrations of dealing with intransigent bureaucracies, chronic apathy, and government agencies with limited resources and politically-driven agendas.

They know what it’s like to be told that your family’s case is just “one of dozens, 30, 40, 50, 100.”

They know what it’s like to feel helpless, angry, numb, scared, and overwhelmed by the battle to keep a loved one’s case from sinking to the bottom of some pile of paperwork and red tape.

And now, we know, too.

Marizela could be my daughter or your daughter. Young adults who go missing often don’t get the priority treatment that underage children get. When they turn 18, law enforcement’s attitude changes. The lack of coordination is flabbergasting.

But your children are always and forever your children.

And I know all parents out there reading this would fight with every cell of their bodies to get their children back — no matter whose bureaucratic toes are stepped on, no matter whose feathers might be ruffled. No matter what.

We have faith, friends, and family.

We will continue to lean on your prayers. We will need more volunteers in the Seattle area to keep spreading the word, keep Marizela in the public’s mind, and keep open eyes, ears, and boots on the ground.

I will keep you updated until we find her.

Emem, you are so loved. More than you know. By more than you’ll know.

A reader sent some eternal words of wisdom — for all of us:

“When you get to the end of your rope, reach out and grab the hem of His garment.”

Keeping the faith…

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Marizela