Poster-bearing trucks may help solve missing-children cases

The Mirror

Authorities hope that missing-children mysteries will be solved with the help of trucks carrying visual information on the kids, including one from the south King County area.

With support from the Federal

Way-based Washington Trucking Association, the State Patrol has launched Homeward Bound, a program that includes pictures of missing children placed on the sides of long-haul trucks.

State Patrol chief John Batiste joined representatives of the trucking association, Gordon Trucking Inc., Budget Auto Wrecking and IMAGIC at a Gordon base in Sumner last month as the first four pictures went up on trucks.

Homeward Bound began as a Problem-Oriented Police Safety (POPS) project through the State Patrol’s commercial vehicle division, officials said. 

 “The idea was to create a new tool to increase our chances of finding missing children,” said trooper Renee Padgett, adding the trucks are part of a POPS pilot project. If it’s successful, it could expand nationwide with other police agencies getting involved, Padgett explained. 

The posters, paid for by Budget Auto Wrecking, include contact information for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

One of the children that are subjects of the posters is Shania Supanich of Auburn. The 8-year-old was abducted by her non-custodial father, Mark Supanich, according to authorities.  A felony warrant was issued on June 14, 2004. 

Authorities said the pair may still be in the local area or may have traveled to Michigan. 

As a way of helping identify her, authorities said Shania Supanich has a gap between her front teeth, her ears are pierced and she has a birthmark on her upper right arm.

The other three children with their posters on trucks are:

• Francisco Brian Rios-Carriere, 3, of Puyallup. He was abducted by his non-custodial father, Francisco Rios-Vega, for whom a felony warrant was issued Sept. 15, 2004.  They may have traveled to California.  The abductor has a tattoo of the name “Guadalupe” on his foot and may use the alias ofJuan Pablo Villareal Florez.

• Sofia Hernandez, 11, of Seattle. She was abducted by her non-custodial mother, Anatolia Hernandez.  An FBI warrant was issued for the mother on Nov. 1, 1999.  The abductor wears glasses and may use the alias last names of Ferguson, Hermance or Luke.

• Agueda Elizabeth “Lizzie” Arias, 7, of Longview. She and her mother, Guadalupe Barajas Castro (Arias), 23, were last scene on Nov. 11, 2002 in the company of 21-year-old Gregorio Arias-Ibala and Gregorio’s 20-year-old sister, Regina Arias-Ibal, both Mexican nationals.  Gregorio is Guadalupe’s estranged husband and father of Lizzie, who was on an impromptu visit from San Jacinto, Calif.  The group were last seen leaving Longview to go shopping in Portland, Ore. in a borrowed 1995 Jeep Cherokee.  The vehicle was found 16 days later in Kerman, Calif.  Gregorio had a handgun with him and was upset over the possibility that Guadalupe had been involved with another man while they were separated, authorities said.

Sue Miller, coordinator of the State Patrol’s Missing Children Clearinghouse, said trucks bearing the childrens’ posters “will travel in the areas the children are believed to be located. Two trucks will travel along Interstate 5 from Washington throiugh California, and the other two will follow nationwide routes.

,“Our hope is that these posters will help us locate these children so that they can return safely to their families,” Miller said.

There are 245 cases the Missing Children Clearinghouse is investigating.  Last year, the agency assisted local law enforcement agencies and families in the recovery of 131 missing children.  Many of the cases involved non-custodial parents illegally taking a child and fleeing, Batiste said.    

 “This is a serious problem that is close to any parents’ heart, mine included,” said Batiste.  “We take this issue very seriously and will do whatever it takes to find these children.”

When a child becomes missing, parents should local police where the disappearnce occurred or the Missing Children Clearinghouse at 1-800-543-5678.  

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