When I wake up in the morning — or whenever it is that I wake up to start my day — and get on the computer, one of the first things I do after checking my email is check Google News for new articles about missing persons cases. I share the articles on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, and the ones that are of use to me, I bookmark for future use. Once I’m done combing through the news, I usually go back and have a look at the articles I bookmarked and see what I can do with them for the day’s updates.
As I’ve said over and over, what I do is try to put all the available information in one place, so people researching missing persons can go to one spot and find everything, rather than having to read like 20 different articles. But that means it’s ME having to read 20 different articles. I’m a very good, very fast reader, obviously, but if you’re just looking at my cases from the outside you’ve got no idea how much time it can take.
Take the case of Diamond Bynum and her nephew King Walker, for example. I added them on Sunday. The case summary is a short one: their “circumstances of disappearance” section is a mere 161 words long. But to get those 161 words, and the photos and the physical/clothing/medical information, I had to consult six different sources — an MP database, a Facebook page and four news publications — and read, perhaps, ten articles, and sort of boil it all down in my head.
And that was just for two cases — or more like one and a half cases, since the circumstances of disappearance were identical for both. I added eight cases to the Charley Project that day, and updated one. And that was just the daily grind, as it were. There’s a lot of other stuff involved: constantly checking other MP databases for cases to add, purging my outdated cases, trying (and failing) to keep up with my email, maintaining the social media stuff, etc. Also occasionally just plugging name after name into Google or whatever and see if I can get a fish on the line.
I am not complaining. Running this website is something I deeply enjoy, and it’s something uniquely suited to my talents and life circumstances. I’m just trying to say, it’s not exactly easy and it’s not something to undertake lightly. I’m sure many people would have a hard time staying committed. I know I do. From time to time I’ve thought about quitting, but that would be a logistical nightmare and I know I’d deeply regret it.
But I think to myself: that logistical nightmare could happen anyway, even if I didn’t choose to quit. I mean, I was lucky to walk away relatively unscathed after that car wreck six weeks ago. What if I’d been seriously injured, brain-damaged, killed? What then? Who would take care of things? No one, that’s who. There’d be nothing to do but pull the whole thing down, and no one to do it but my nearest and dearest.
I am warming up to the idea of having other people help write cases for Charley. I know the site has really grown too big for me to manage on my own. But I remain apprehensive. One of the many things I am concerned about is the possibility that some well-meaning, talented individuals will volunteer themselves and then change their minds when they realize just what this sort of thing entails.
I’m just thinking aloud right now.