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First-ever 'Missing Persons Day' held to increase awareness, offer support

Six-year-old Lia Nicosia of Bayport got her New

Six-year-old Lia Nicosia of Bayport got her New York State Safe Child ID card, which includes her fingerprints, at the Suffolk County Missing Persons Day event in Sayville on Saturday. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

People whose loved ones have gone missing had an opportunity Saturday in Sayville to find out more about tools to help them in missing-persons searches and gather strength from one another.

The Community Ambulance Company hosted its first-ever “Missing Persons Day” event — a joint initiative with Suffolk County law enforcement officials — at the company’s Sayville headquarters. The event was designed to increase the public’s awareness of missing loved one and offer support to family and friends of people who have vanished.

Ida Mayer of Dix Hills, in an emotional speech delivered with her two children behind her, remembered her husband, Robert Mayer, who disappeared on June 14, 2013. In the audience, friends, family and supporters wore red shirts to honor Robert, whose favorite color was red.

Robert Mayer was last seen leaving for work from his Dix Hills home in the early hours of that day. His red 2004 Pontiac GTO was found parked at a nearby train station the next day. The investigation into his disappearance is ongoing, and a $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his location.

Ida Mayer described Robert as a “loving, faithful, hardworking husband” and a “doting father.”

“We did everything together as a family and Rob would not have it any other way,” she said.

Mayer, now an advocate for missing persons, encouraged people to register with NamUS, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, NamUS offers free services such as fingerprint examination and DNA analyses to help resolve missing- and unidentified-persons cases. 

People at the event could register for the service, report missing people to Suffolk police, get ID cards for children, attend informational panels, and take part in other activities.

There are an estimated 4,500 reported cases of missing persons for New York State, law enforcement officials say.   

Alfred Dieumegard,  an Oakdale resident and West Sayville firefighter, said he came to help his friend Bill Constantine, who could not attend due to illness, bring attention to his missing sister, Cynthia Constantine. Cynthia disappeared July 11, 1969, while out picking reeds near her Oakdale home. She was 15.

“It’s haunted me,” said Dieumegard, who heard there were tire tracks and scattered reeds left near the area where Constantine disappeared. “To me, it sounds more like an abduction just from that description.”

While a few dozen people attended, Dr. Ruth Kohlmeier  of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office, an event organizer, said the goal wasn’t to get a large turnout but to individually help people with missing loved ones.

“Even if it’s one family and one person that we can help, that’s a success,” Kohlmeier said.

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