Family remembers daughter’s kidnapping, death

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Three families now have their loved ones back, and that sends out a beacon of hope to thousands of others who have a missing child.

Locally, an Overland Park couple has worked closely with families of missing children ever since they lost their own daughter six years ago.

Greg and Missy Smith will never forget June 2, 2007 -- the day their daughter, Kelsey, was kidnapped.

The last images they have of her, surveillance video of a man forcing her into her car. Four days later, one nightmare ended and another began -- Kelsey was found dead.

In the years since, the Smiths have worked tirelessly with families in need. Kelsey's Army shows up at times when someone is missing, especially a child.

"You never move on, you just move forward because the child is still gone," Missy Smith said.

Missy and Greg say they remember Kelsey every day, but more so on days like Monday, when news broke in Cleveland that three women, all missing since at least 2004, were found alive.

"When there's a recovery, like these three girls, all of us that have lost a child are so happy," Missy said.

But the Smiths couldn't be human if they didn't have a twinge of jealousy.

"My first reaction is 'can you believe that?' The family and those women have to be ecstatic to be back with their families, but there's just that second kid didn't come home," Greg Smith said.

"Even for those of us who have lost, there's little bit of envy, but there's always happiness and joy for them, that they get their baby home," Missy said.

The families in Cleveland are not alone. Finding a missing or abducted child is rare, but it's happened. Elizabeth Smart disappeared in June 2002 and was found nine months later. Jacyee Dugard survived a kidnapping for 18 years and returned home in 2009.

Stories like these prove parents who hold on to hope, do have something to hope for.

"Until there's concrete evidence that someone is gone, there is always hope and you don't take that away from them, ever, you can always believe that they are out there," Missy said.

Kelsey would have celebrated her 24th birthday on May 3. It was a difficult time for the Smiths, but they continue to work hard to change laws to make it easier to find missing people.

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