Missing persons case brings hope, attention to other active cases


by WHAS11


Posted on May 7, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 7 at 8:12 PM

The miracle outcome in Cleveland serves as a reminder that there are still thousands of unsolved missing children's cases in the United States, including some in Kentuckiana.

The Ann Gotlib case ---  nearly three decades ago --laid the groundwork for what is now the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

All those pictures on milk cartons, Amber alerts and even state sex offender registries were ideas the resulted from an organization that got its start right here in Louisville after a 12-year-old girl, who would be 42 now, disappeared.

The Cleveland case, where three missing women were reunited with loved ones after a decade, is the type of ending thousands of families hope to have.

“In seeing this case, I'm sure it pulls off every wound that they have with their experience, but I think it rejuvenates that little bit of hope they've been hanging on to,” said retired LMPD Detective Denny Butler, who headed the Cold Case division.

Butler spent countless hours investigating the Ann Gotlib case, in which a 12-year-old girl vanished in 1983 after riding her bike to the mall.

Now 30 years after Ann went missing, there has been no definite resolution in the case.

But that case, which involved hundreds of volunteer searchers and united dozens of rescue and law enforcement agencies, led to the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

That organization is involved in nearly all high profile national missing children cases, Including the missing Cleveland girls.

That organization was founded by Ernie Allen, former Public Safety Director for Louisville.

“Cases like the Ann Gotlib case here in Louisville helped to awaken the nation to the fact that kids were vulnerable and kids were victimized,” Allen said during an event held in his honor here in Louisville several years ago.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped bring about such measures as Amber alerts and sex offender registries.

“It's horrific. You don't even want to think about it. It would be living a nightmare,” Butler said, when asked what family members of missing children are going through.

“Unfortunately from these horrible experiences we learn things that will help us prevent cases like this from happening in the future,” Butler said.

Police believe that Ann Gotlib was abducted and killed by a suspect who died while serving time in prison for another child sex crime.

Currently, there are three open "cold case" missing person investigations in Metro Louisville.