Previously I’ve written about those who are “maliciously creating havoc” and I would like to further write about those who specifically utilize public forums to help families of missing loved ones. Are they truly helping or harming? While the majority of those who tend to flock to forums, that provide an outlet to discuss high profile missing person cases, are good hearted people there are those that take opinions and freedom of speech to the extreme…an extreme that causes unnecessary stress to families of missing loved ones.
One of the families that I work very closely with is the family of Geoff Meisner. Geoff is a 33 year old father to 4 beautiful young daughters all under the age of eleven. He is a wonderful husband to his wife Tammy who is a lovely woman and a caring and adoring mother. Geoff went missing in West Kelowna, B.C on November 27, 2009. His truck was found in a Starbucks parking lot with no trace of Geoff. He and Tammy had just moved into a new home two weeks prior and Geoff, a martial arts enthusiast, was looking forward to a special upcoming event in which he would be a participant. Geoff would never go missing on his own.
While the family struggles everyday with fears and worries of possible foul play, the bloggers are posting hastily. Many post their prayers and thoughts and well wishes for his safe return, others are posting very damaging opinions and hypothetical situations as they try to “sleuth” their way through the personal lives of Geoff and his wife. When confronted posters will tell you that “you should not read here” if you are family or do not wish to be a part of their “sleuthing” and that they have “a right” to openly discuss their thoughts and opinions on what may have happened to Geoff. Rumors of possible drug connections, wondered by posters of course, as well as curiosity as to the marriage of Geoff and Tammy and the potential of “could she be involved?” This is very damaging to the reputation of the family and posters, while they feel may be helping, are in reality creating and causing serious emotional harm to the families of those missing.
Geoff’s case is not the only case in which I’ve witnessed such harm in opinions and hypotheticals. I’ve watched this occur over and again throughout the years. It’s never understood as to why forums cannot have a level of respect and leave the opinions to private conversations, as opposed to public postings. We all have opinions. We all go through hypotheticals. That is human nature. However, to post those publicly is where the line should be drawn. It’s very much understood once a suspect is arrested and awaiting trial, in cases of foul play, to discuss case events. I’m more concerned about the innocent family members whose missing loved ones whereabouts are unknown and those who post decide to try and “solve” a case via conversations that invariably have nothing to do with the missing person, or the reason a person becomes missing.
Another family that I am working closely with has a beautiful wife, mother, daughter missing and for some reason those who are posting feel the need the know what kind of work did she do from home? What kind of work did her husband do? Why did she have a DUI and when? How do we know what the husband has stated is factual? Questions that have no relevance to the fact this young mother is missing. Those who post need to be very aware that what is posted on public internet sites will remain nearly forever. The children of missing family members will grow up and have access to all of the curiosity and assumptions of their family. Shouldn’t those who post use a bit more discretion? How about taking the posts that are full of inference and discuss them in a private forum? Perhaps for the children’s sake? Let’s ask the beautiful daughters of Geoff Meisner.