When the subject of missing persons comes up, people usually respond by saying ‘what a horrible thing it is, it must be tough going through something like that, I feel sorry for the family’. Those types of things are usually characterized by most of us as things that happen to other people. You might see it on the six o’clock news, but not something that you would ever think would happen to them.
A terrible house fire erupted quickly that totally consumed a 5000 square foot home in the Rover community of Bedford County, near Shelbyville, about 45 minutes southeast of Nashville last September. Mr. and Mrs. Leon and Molly McClaran who had been married for over 30 years had custody of two of their grandchildren, nine year old Chloe Leverette and seven year old Gage Daniel. When a passerby first reported the blaze, the entire house had already been consumed by the fire. Firefighters had to bring water in by truck since there were no fire hydrants nearby. Firefighters eventually set up a large plastic water trough near the home from which to draw water from.
When the first fire truck pulled in the driveway, one of the family’s dogs was running down the driveway on fire. Within minutes, it was evident that the house would be a total loss, and efforts were turned to keeping the fire from spreading to adjacent properties.
By midday September 25, 2012, the rubble was cool enough to begin the recovery part of the mission. Within hours, the remains of Leon and Molly, the grandparents were found at one end of the house, together with several family dogs and chickens. There was no sign of the children.
Authorities began immediately checking with neighbors, family and friends to see if anyone knew the whereabouts of Chloe and Gage. No luck. No sign, anywhere. Investigators insisted that they recomb the charred remains of the house, which they did. Still no other human remains in the house. With every passing day, the questions mounted. What started out as a tragic accidental house fire (cause was never determined), whispers began to surface that this could very well be a crime scene.
Thoughts have continued to race through neighbors, family, friends and investigators. With no sign of the children alive anywhere in the nearby vicinity, amber alerts were issued by TBI, in attempt to cover the case with ‘an abundance of caution.’
Fast forward. It’s been 10 months now. No new information. No leads. No suspects. No ideas. No children. The burned remains of the house had been searched three complete times. Experts tell us that they are positive that the children were not in the house at the time of the fire. I have had the children’s dental records for 10 months now. Every time their photo is rebroadcast, cold chills run down my spine, as I, like you, wonder, what possible scenario could explain exactly what happened.
It is during times like this that our attention is turned to the subject of missing persons. Experts tell us that, at any one time, there may be as many as 8,000 persons in the United States whose whereabouts is unknown. It has given birth to a new wave of efforts to systemize those missing with a computerized database. The two most widely known services are the NCIC and NAMUS. NCIC, a federal agency studied by law enforcement only stands for the National Crime Information Center. A more recently established agency, NAMUS, now welcomes and encourages efforts of the general population to study, scan and enter identifying characteristics of those individuals thought to be missing. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System is encouraging the data input from all sources available.
Gage and Chloe’s dental records, xrays and clinical charting has been submitted to every database available in the world. So far, no match. Could be good, and could be not so good. Think about it. Even in the age of computers and technology, the data is only as accurate as what has been submitted. And even with this exciting technology, unless or until the children are discovered alive and well, there whereabouts, along with thousands of others will continue to be a mystery.