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National Missing Persons Day shines light on Utahns who have disappeared

Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 13:37:20-05

SALT LAKE CITY — There are more than 89,000 people in the United States currently listed as missing, with roughly 800 Utahns are on that list.

Thursday is National Missing Persons Day, and for detectives who work these cases, they involve long hours, rehashing and re-investigating initial reports and hoping, ultimately, to find some new leads.

Whether it’s a few days or several decades, Det. Ben Pender with the Unified Police Department spends most of his time trying to bring some closure to the loved ones of those who are missing.

Like the family of Jan Stavros, who abruptly and mysteriously disappeared back in 2001. Like all of his missing persons cases, Det. Pender knows there are people out there who have critical information that would help solve the Stavros disappearance, he just needs to find the right tip, lead or person to come forward.

“We happen to have 16 missing persons which happened to disappear under some type of suspicious or unusual circumstances,” said Det. Pender. "Those victims are not forgotten, we’re still working those, we’re still back to interviewing, you know, searching areas that come up, those types of things.”

The Stavros case is one of dozens and dozens of missing persons and unsolved murder cases featured on the Utah Department of Public Safety‘s website.

Det. Pender says if people have the interest and the time, they can take a closer look at these cases and contact law enforcement if they have any additional tips or leads and they can also share the case on their own social media.

And a myth Det. Pender hopes to dispel is that if you are truly concerned about someone, you do not have to wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report; police would rather have information sooner rather than later.

Pender added that’s especially helpful in putting together someone’s digital footprint because nearly everyone, nearly every day leaves some sort of an electronic trail.