A missing persons incident out of Bettendorf had a happy late Thursday night.
Bettendorf Police turned to the community for help after 13-year-old Samuel Thorton was reported missing Thursday evening.
At the time he was last seen around 4:30p.m. near his Bettendorf home in the 700 block of Grant Street.
Thankfully Thorton was found safe in Davenport by Bettendorf Police around 11:30p.m. and was returned to his parents.
That’s not the only recent incident where someone has been reported missing only to be found a short time later. But on Friday the Quad Cities Missing Persons Network says it’s always better to be on the safe side because unfortunately, these incidents don’t always have a happy ending.
Director Dennis Harker says it’s not unusual for people to feel extra anxious in the wake of highly publicized cases such as the Mollie Tibbetts case or the Jacob Wilson case. Both cases Harker says hit especially close to home for the Quad Cities area.
But Harker says no matter when someone goes missing, it’s scary. And says it’s completely appropriate to report someone as missing as soon as something seems off.
“You know your family,” he said. “So whenever somebody goes missing it’s always appropriate when you finally get to that point where you’ve exhausted calling friends and neighbors and checking email accounts that you contact the police. And after you contact them, contact us. “
He says the first step in that process is to file a report with your local police department, and to give as many details as possible for the description. Harker says the more details the community has, the better.
Both Harker and the Bettendorf Police say it’s never too soon to file a missing persons report. Harker says while it make seem like a short window of time, it’s always better to be on the safe side.
“And you’d hate to find out a week late gosh I wish I would’ve acted on this sooner,” said Harker. “It’s kind of like if I have chest pain I should go to the hospital instead of being embarrassed that it might just be indigestion. But it might be that one trip to the hospital that saves my life because I acted on it. I’d rather be embarrassed and have it be nothing then to not react and end up in some sort of crisis.”
Harker says those first few hours can be crucial to an investigation, so no one should hesitate to call for help.
“If it’s a missing person case where we report them and then an hour later they walk in the door well no harm done,” he said. “Then we can say they’re home, they’ve been found, it’s all clear don’t worry about it. It’s kind of like a tornado warning or a tornado watch, it’s going to happen, but maybe not but I’d rather be in the basement than find out I’m out in the yard and watching a tornado hit my house, you know?”
As the Quad Cities Missing Persons Network continues to grow, they’ve started to outgrow their supplies. The non-profit is now asking the community to help them win a local office makeover contest. The winner receives a $15,000 grant. Harker says if his organization wins, they will put the money toward their search efforts. Specifically, Harker says they need new printers to help print fliers and information more efficiently, system updates to keep their computers running smoothly, and much more.
How to vote (courtesy of Quad Cities Missing Persons Network):
1. Click on the tab at the top of the screen “Make my non-profit run better”
2. View entrants (search by name) and enter Quad Cities Missing,
4. Check your email to validate your email address (one time only)
You can vote for the Quad Cities Missing Persons Network here.