In light of Lynn Messer’s disappearance earlier this year her husband, Kerry Messer, says he is trying to put a plan in place that could help in the future with missing person’s cases such as this.
Kerry said he is in the early stages of trying to create an organization called “Support the Hurting” and would like to hear feedback from the public on it.
“It would be a website that people can log in into and receive instructions on what to do when you’re out hunting,” said Messer. “Our focus wouldn’t be just be for hunters though, it would be for farmers, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts and will go over what the do’s and don’ts are if you find something that’s unusual or out of place out in the woodlands. Such as it has to go to the local law enforcement, and how to document and what not to touch.”
The body of a missing 57-year-old woman, Mary Zehnle, who had been missing from Crawford County for more than a week was found in a heavily-wooded area of that county over the weekend.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department says a landowner setting up a deer stand near Steelville on Saturday discovered the body of Zehnle.
She was separated from her sister on Wednesday while they were taking a nature walk to find items to make a wreath. Her family says Zehnle had health problems.
Zehnle’s body was found a couple of miles from where she had gone missing.
Messer said he would also like to have some sort of a pledge page where people could sign on with some sort of a pledge or commitment. He is already having some legal paperwork drawn up and there are costs associated with that.
Eventually he plans to do some fundraising and seek cooperate sponsorships, but doesn’t want anyone writing checks to him. He doesn’t want to access or direct the funds himself.
He plans to get a board of directors and has currently talked with some law enforcement officers about being on an advisory board.
“I want to make sure that what we are doing works for law enforcement, rather than creating any problems for them,” said Kerry. “We want to make sure we create something that government agencies would be comfortable partnering with in the future, when the organization becomes viable.
“I’ve already been in contact with the governor’s office and the Department of Conservation. They are interested in how this may develop and they have their input as to what they think will be viable for the future. There are no commitments at this time, but we are definitely talking.”
One of the reasons Kerry wants to create “Support the Hurting Organization” is because there are somewhere between 500 and 1,000 missing people in Missouri and the national statistics range from 80,000 to 110,000.
“That is just missing people and there are whole families of those associated with each of those missing persons,” said Kerry. “There is also somewhere around over 40,000 unidentified bodies in morgues across the country and there is no singular database that connects the various lists.
“The missing’s lists and the unidentified bodies are all in multiple databases and there is very little connections between those various databases. All these things need to be dealt with at some level and what I plan to do is work on trying to educate people and try to drive more awareness for the tens of thousands missing people and their hurting families associated with them. This is what I feel like I need to do right now.”
As the leaves fall from the trees more hunters will find their way into the woods they may not visit much outside of hunting season. Kerry asks all hunters to keep their eyes on what is around them.
“Until we get this organization created we would like hunters to be aware and to be thoughtful of the fact that they could be walking right past something that is important,” said Kerry. “So at this point until we can refine the instructions we just ask hunters to be aware of any articles that are out of place and not to take big assumptions and just pass it up.”
Kerry asks that if something seems odd and out of place don’t touch or move it, document it and contact law enforcement. He said let law enforcement make the decision about it.
He said documenting means taking photos with your cell phone, getting GPS coordinates if possible or type or texting in some notations so that you know for fact you can back to that location or can give good enough instructions for someone else to find that location.
With hunting season in full swing it’s impossible for searchers to go out and search and there are safety issues as well. A group of people walking through where someone’s set up in a tree or deer blind could cause a conflict.
“The big thing for me is that with the holiday seasons coming up I know they are going to be tough,” said Kerry. “We celebrated two anniversaries every year. We celebrate our first kiss on Oct. 22 and our wedding anniversary on Dec. 22, along with the major family holidays.
“I think I’m going to need some prayers to get through this season, in addition to the prayers for Lynn. I will be writing about it on the Facebook page.”
Lynn Messer disappeared the morning of July 8 and when Kerry couldn’t find her the authorities were called in. Since then there have been countless searches with over 5,000 acres covered in the searches, flyers of Lynn pasted in storefronts all over Ste. Genevieve County, surrounding areas and beyond.
A Facebook page “Find Lynn Messer” had been set up where Kerry posts his thoughts, feelings and pleas for her safe return.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org