When I was about 8 my brother and I found a class ring on Clearwater Beach. We gave it to our Mother to hold on to and it wasn"t until decades later we saw it again. Mom died at 47 in 1988 from cancer and in 1998 my brother was cleaning out his garage and came across the jewelry box and there was the ring, right where she had left it in a oriental silk sachet in her jewelry box. Maybe it was boredom with a touch of intrigue but I knew I had to find the owner. As the internet aka world wide web evolved beyond the limits of services like AOL I discovered a vast treasure trove of search engines and year books online. On Christmas Eve 2001 I found the owner, called her, and advised her I was returning the ring if she provided me an address which I already had from online but didn't want her to think I was a stalker. She sent me an Outback Steakhouse gift card in return which I did not expect but totally enjoyed. My brother started calling me Sleuthster for my budding skills of searching the internet.
Soon with the birth of social programs on the intrnet like myspace and facebook I began searching for 2 people I knew in my youth who were missing and had been for over many years., Wendy Huggy and Robert Beich, I also learned there were many ways to search public records for marriage records and criminal, property, adoptees searching, birth parents searching, missing persons and then it just all clicked. There were so many other missing persons like my friend and my neighbor. I was surprised.
Right before I found the owner of the class ring my pastor at church had discussed a purpose driven life. See, my life has been what I call as extraordinary. When I was 11 I was a victim of an attempted home invasion, the original home alone I say. I survived with my will to fight. My father always said I was tough. Besides this and 2 people close to myself and family missing for decades now I also lost 2 people close to my family to murder, my dad's girlfriend and my friend Kim. Both perps are in prison but I realized so many families and friends of the missing and unsolved homicides have no closure because their loved one has not been found or the murderer has not been found. Thus, Sleuthster fighter of injustice and seeker of the truth was born in my desire to help. This was my purpose driven life. The internet was my tool and I could help bring closure and maybe justice. I started helping through Doenetwork.com and then switched to Websleuths.com which seemed more like a community. These became my platform to help part time. in 2005 it became more full time when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and became more determined to have purpose in my life and make a difference. It kept me busy instead of feeling sorry for myself. I feel I have many times through my work helping identify the unidentified and even finding a few missing people in plain sight on social media. I contacted them and advised they're listed as missing and should let family know they're ok. 1 missing person I contacted Doenetwork and they let me know shortly after that the person had been located when they flew in to Texas from Grand Cayman. Sadly I have not found out what happened to my friend and my neighbor. Over the years I had no idea where it would take me.
One day on websleuths I got a message that I was mentioned on a post by administration that there was a request for my help. One of the cases of a missing person, Abraham Shakespeare, was being filmed for a documentary and they needed my help as well as others who had worked to find clues of what happened to him and ultimately provide information for a conviction. At first I was apprehensive because I didn't have a clue what would be involved. the whole ordeal was actually pretty cool and I met some awesome people who worked to put this documentary together and make me feel less nervous. Abraham Shakespeare seemed like such a great guy and I'm really glad I was able to be part of the production to keep his memory alive. I hope that what we did on websleuths to help as a team brought some closure to his family. Purpose driven life. We all have one you just have to take what you know, good or bad, from your life and find your purpose.
Best Regards, Sleuthster
Please watch me on Web of Death , available January 19th on Hulu