Columbus investigator explains missing person protocol

Columbus investigator explains missing person protocol

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The search for a missing Columbus man Joe Akridge is still keeping investigators busy, along with other open cases.

In recent months some WTVM viewers have reached out to local media, seeking help in the search for their missing loved ones.

"We still want him to come home, we still need help with that," said Akridge's sister Ruenell Akridge at a September vigil.

Columbus police say they are still investigating Akridge's March disappearance, along with other open reports.

"We take all missing person reports seriously," said Columbus Police Department investigator Lt. Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick.

The first category of missing person reports is any minor 17 or younger, and that report can be filed immediately.

The next is any adult 18 or over that has been missing for 24 hours. Officials say they will respond before 24 hours to a missing adult case if evidence of foul play or criminal activity is present.

"If you feel or we see evidence that somebody has been abducted or we see a struggle in the house or we see some criminal activities that could have surrounded the disappearance of that person, of course we start right then and there," said Dent-Fitzpatrick.

One such recent case involved Renee Eldridge who went missing from her Columbus home and was tragically discovered murdered.

"I was hoping this vigil would bring her back home and it has but not the way we wanted," said Judith Reed at a vigil earlier this year for Eldridge.

Officials say they also take mental or physical disabilities of a missing person as red flags to deploy extra resources, adding that new technology like tracking bracelets could help bring loved ones home.

"That transmitter would give us a little noise that would tell us okay they went this direction.," said Dent-Fitzpatrick.

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