FBI talks about timeline to find missing children

Posted at 7:14 PM, May 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-07 19:14:18-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- Word of three missing people, two of whom were children when they disappeared, being found alive after years of being held captive in Ohio, brought a smile to a Richmond FBI special agent.

Jim Melia, who also works as a team leader for the FBI's Southeast Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, said he was overjoyed by the news.

Melia knows how lucky the three are to have made it out safely.

"It's a wonderful thing, when children who had been abducted are found," Melia said from  the Richmond Field Office. "It just doesn't happen often enough. Lots of times the circumstances are much more tragic."

In fact, a 2006 study often cited by the FBI indicates time is not on their side, when it comes to abductions by strangers.

"If a child is going to be killed following an abduction, 75 percent of them will be killed in the first 3 hours," Melia said. "An additional 75 percent of the remaining children will be killed within the first 24 hours.  And it continues in a series of 75 percentiles out unto 72 hours."

Melia also said only about 200 stranger abductions are occur in the United States each year.

One key item for parents is to keep up-to-date photographs of your children. Melia also emphasizes the importance of making sure your children are always with someone and never out on their own.