Families full of hope attend first ever Missing in Arizona Day

Today dozens of families were looking to find answers about their missing loved ones. It was all part of the first ever Missing in Arizona Day.
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Today dozens of families were looking to find answers about their missing loved ones.
 
It was all part of the first ever Missing in Arizona Day. 
 
Local and state agencies held this event to connect people with the resources they need to help find their missing loved ones. 
 
Police say there are currently thousands of missing people in Arizona. They're hoping this event will help resolve some of these cases.  
 
Sergeant Vince Lewis with the Phoenix Police Department says this event is crucial because there are roughly 2,000 missing people in Arizona and about 1300 unidentified bodies.  
 
"They're unique to other cases because simply being missing is not necessarily a crime,” Lewis said. “Often times there are criminal elements that surround those missing cases; we just don’t have those answers." 
 
The purpose of the event is to provide families of missing persons the tools they need to hopefully find much needed answers.
 
People like Janice Smolinski, who's 31-year-old son went missing 11 years ago. 
 
She attended the event to hopefully learn what more she can do to find her son. 
 
"I know a lot has improved since 2004 and that's when he went missing, so I'm here to share the experiences that we have and to try and help the system," Smolinski said. 
 
People attending the event could check the status of their current missing persons report. 
 
Law enforcement was also on hand taking new reports, and gathering information like DNA samples, fingerprints, and photographs. 
 
"This is an opportunity for people to come forward and share that, their experiences, talk with other people who have missing people in their lives, and learn about how those investigations come forward," said Lewis.    
 
To end the event, a support group meeting and candelighting ceremony was held to honor the missing.   
 
"I always push hope, there's always hope to find a missing loved one and to never give up," Smolinski said. 
 
All of the agencies involved in today’s event are hoping to make this an annual program. 
 

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