They are Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Meyer, of Grand Rapids, Capt. Lyndon Parrish of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, and Special Agent Roy Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in St. Joseph.
They will receive the National Missing Children’s Award in connection with the recovery of 14-year-old Lindsey Ryan and prosecution of 57-year-old kidnapper Terry Drake.
When Ryan disappeared from her home in Jones, Mich., on March 1, 2003, within hours the Sheriff’s Department determined that Drake, a convicted murderer, had left with the girl in the early morning hours and was traveling with her across the country.
The Sheriff’s Department, the Cass County Major Case Unit, the Michigan State Police Computer Crimes Unit and the FBI immediately began operating a 24-hour command center.
Their investigation and nationwide law enforcement alerts resulted in sightings in Wyoming, Nevada and California. On March 24, Ryan was recovered and Drake captured.
Meyer prosecuted Drake in federal District Court later that year, and Drake was convicted on two felony counts of transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.
The search involved department coordination on a national level and help from the media, including America’s Most Wanted, CNN and Fox News. The search has become a template in the federal government’s expansion of the Amber Alert System.
NCMEC is a 20-year-old organization committed to assisting law enforcement in finding missing children and preventing child sexual exploitation.
John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted and co-founder of NCMEC, will take part in the awards ceremony Wednesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
“(Parrish and Johnson) deserve the honor,” Meyer told the Business Journal.
“They were the ones getting Lindsey back,” she said.
“Local law enforcement put an incredible amount of time into their investigations. They ran a command center 24-7, put in a significant amount of work. The media did too, locally and nationally. To have an award in this district is important because it shows local law enforcement that their efforts are recognized on a national level.”