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Missing in Michigan

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MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Kellie Yunginger on a mission to find Michigan’s missing. If someone is missing in West Michigan, chances are Kellie Yunginger will be on scene trying to help you find your loved one. The Portage woman spends her time and money helping families through such difficult times.

While Yuinginer is not a private investigator or police officer, she knows the facts about Michigan’s missing.

"The state of Michigan has over 4000 missing people,” says Yunginger. “In the United States, there's over 800,000.”

When it comes to finding those missing people, Kellie knows she has to get to work.

“If a person is missing, the first few days are crucial. We want to be on the trail as soon as possible so we want to get their face in the media."

Kellie is no stranger to Newschannel 3---she's usually in the background when there's a report of a missing person. Yunginger has been searching for her missing cousin, Richard Hitchcock, for 25 years.

"He's still missing and we look for any information we can,” says Yunginger. She’s been involved in the hunt for answers in the cases of Hitchcock, Venus Stewart and Erik Cross.

“Those particular cases, they're all waiting for some answers or justice,” says Yunginger. “If I can keep them from having to experience any of this, I want to help them do that.”

Armed with Facebook and faith, Kellie gets to work as soon as a missing person report pops up in West Michigan.

“When a family contacts me and they don't know what to do or where to go, the first thing I do is get on my laptop and create a Missing Persons poster.

But Kellie says families need more than posters, Facebook groups and news interviews.

“They need help,” says Yunginger. “Somebody to emphasize with them, somebody to sympathize with them.”

One of those helping is Detective Sergeant Sarah Krebs with Michigan State Police.

“We have over 4400 missing persons listed with law enforcement in Michigan and we have over 1,000 children that go missing per week,” says Krebs. “Most of the children come back in a week but that's a very large amount of missing people and that's kind of a scary statistic."

That's why Michigan State Police hold the Missing In Michigan event every May to help uncover new leads.

“We vet information, we take DNA, we make sure those cases are being followed up on and hopefully we can solve that case for the family,” says Krebs.

It’s a hope Kellie has for her family and others in West Michigan.

“It never stops,” says Yunginger. “What I don’t want is for any of these families to have to wait like we do. We've waited 26 years,” says Yunginger.

For more information about Missing in Michigan, hosted by Michigan State Police—click here: http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1878_32000_67976---,00.html

To submit a tip or run a name through the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS), click here: http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1878_32000---,00.html

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