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As he watched a duo of young men crawl through the first-floor window of a ramshackle home on Strathmore Avenue, he said that the lack of resources for police is a significant problem. He also estimates the true number of missing persons to be closer to 500 across Northeast Ohio. Whether it's the east side or the west side, the matter of discerning the truth too often falls to the community.
For the friends and family of a missing person, there's little hope beyond their own grassroots search effort. Often, with no overt crime to investigate, police departments are left with no clear workload. "What I try to do is maintain a positive working relationship, so that they're not reluctant to answer my calls," Pointer says, describing the running narrative of her past three decades. "So many people are too critical of police, but we need them."
She continues: "My message is always: Never give up hope. Listen, somebody knows something. Then you can really try to get in the hearts and minds of those individuals."
As Heather White accompanies the Adkins family on a walk down West 25th Street, she talks about how the story of Christina has been approached among the neighborhood.
"Before Roger died, he and Mary and Tonia, the past 18 years, have been out here themselves," White says.***
The plight of the missing has become a prevailing theme during the summer of 2013, and the meeting of neighbors and journalists on Vega Avenue at the height of the season is a stark reminder that, even still, little has changed. Those same conversations happen in coffeeshops and around dinner tables as Clevelanders wrestle with the headlines.
When Christina disappeared in 1995, she didn't have a cell phone. Cameras weren't peering down every avenue in town. Communication was different. But Christina disappeared in 1995, and that's one of the few indisputable facts her family has been able to hold onto for all these years.
But the scale is thrown off balance by the lack of answers. Most cases get resolved quickly, FBI officials say, the Seymour case being an anomaly.
Christina Adkins' case is an anomaly, too. There are very few stories like hers in Cleveland. Even fewer answers.
"We need to know. We need to be able to put her to rest properly—to give her a final farewell," Tonia says. "If that's what's needed."
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