Agencies join forces to reunite missing persons with grieving families

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EDMOND, Okla. - Cynthia Garcia has not been seen or heard from by her family since leaving her Moore home last Friday.

Garcia is just one of the 87,000 people who were reported missing in the United States.

"A lot of these folks have made their own posters and maybe put it up around the neighborhood. But, so many of these cases transcend their local community," said Christy Penney, a victim services coordinator with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Oklahoma families don't have to go far to expand their search.

Instead, they can head to UCO's Forensic Science Institute.

"They were probably told, once upon a time, there was nothing to be done. And, for them to be able to come back and participate in something that can find or give resolution to the missing person case, it's pretty significant," said Lesley Katzilierakis, a criminalist supervisor.

National, state and local agencies are joining forces for 'Oklahoma Missing Persons Day.'

Families can report a missing loved one, share investigative leads and provide DNA samples, and the information will be entered into a national database.

"You're in Oklahoma and enter your information. Someone in New York sees the info. 'Hey, I know that person. She's been living down the street from me. Maybe, this is who they are talking about.' That's powerful," Penney said.

The folks at the crime lab have had tremendous success providing resolution to grieving families.

"Of course, this family was thrilled they had answers to this cold case from 1983," Katzilierakis said.

In Oklahoma and beyond, they can give hope to families who are desperate for answers.

'Oklahoma Missing Persons Day 2016' is Saturday.

It's being held at Forensic Science Institute UCO, located at 801 E. 2nd Street in Edmond.

Reservations are encouraged at 405-715-9579 or

All services are provided free of charge.