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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Latisha Rutledge and Family: Missing and Found

By Deidra, WAOD Crime Contributor

Last Friday, I posted a story on a missing family from Detroit on my blog. At the time, Latisha Rutledge (22) and her two kids were missing for two weeks.

Family members said a pregnant mother from Detroit and her two small children ages 4 and 2 have not been seen in nearly two weeks. They were supposed to board a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. headed to Downtown Detroit, but no one has seen them since they were spotted at the bus station.

Latisha Rutledge, 22, is eight and a half months pregnant, and her baby is due any day.

Family members said she may have already given birth.

Latisha had been living with her uncle in Florida for a couple months trying to get her life together but it did not work out for her. So, on January 11th, 2007 her uncle dropped Latisha and her children off at the Greyhound bus station in Florida. They were to arrive in Detroit two days later on January 13th but they never made it.

Rutledge's mother is frightened and frustrated, and said her daughter has no money.

Greyhound does not require photo identification at all its terminals so there is no way to know if Rutledge even boarded the bus.

Greyhound said it can not release passenger information unless law enforcement request it.

Rutledge's mother Marsella Satchel said she has not been able to file a missing persons police report yet, because police told her she must contact every hospital in Fort Lauderdale and Detroit before it can be filed.

I was very upset after hearing this story and knew that something had to be done about it. It was just too fishy. It wasn't just the lack of description on the woman and children that bothered me. I was more bothered by how the case was being handled. I had so many questions:

Was being pregnant and having two children under the age of 5 not enough reason for the police to start a search? Is it required to contact every single hospital in the city if the missing person is possibly injured or ready to give birth? Is that some kind of new (and silly in my opinion) policy? Did anybody at the bus station see anything? Better yet, how can you possibly miss seeing a whole family board or not board a bus? Were there security cameras around the station? What is going on??

Desperate for answers, I did whatever I could the last few days to help find them. I tried everything from contacting police stations and the Greyhound bus station to looking online for a Myspace or Facebook profile.

Finally this morning, I decided to go straight to the source: the newspaper that published the article. I would've done this first but the article did not have an author or a contact number at the end like most articles. So I thought it was better to do a little research on my own. For about 4 hours, I tried to get in contact with the new station. I had to resort to an online form after realizing I wasn't getting any answers.

But this afternoon I got the answer that I was waiting to hear. The managing editor informed me via email that Latisha Rutledge and her children were located safe and sound! She added "She just failed to contact her loved ones". I was glad to hear the good news but I requested an update on the story.

You'd think if you have time to send an email back to me, you'd also have time to update a story! People were all up in arms about this (and probably still is) and you can't write one simple sentence about Latisha and her kids? *sighs* I don't know what to say about all this but I'm glad they are safe.