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Arizona congressman honors missing children with resolution

PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker introduced a resolution Wednesday to recognize the anniversary of a nationally commemorated holiday that honors missing children.

The resolution from Rep. Andy Biggs sought to have the U.S. House of Representatives recognize the 36th anniversary of National Missing Children’s Day, which is marked on Saturday.

It would also encourage communities across the country to raise public awareness on child safety, recognize the critical role of law enforcement and the justice system in preventing the abduction and exploitation of children and remember the children who are still missing and honor the efforts of law enforcement to reunite such children with their families.

“As a parent, it is difficult to imagine the heartbreak of a missing child. I’ve talked to many parents of missing children, including Pamela Foster, the mother of Ashlynne Mike, and I realize the pain they experience through the loss of their children,” Biggs said in a statement.

“It is my hope that we can find hope in these tragedies by raising awareness of National Missing Children’s Day to help reduce the number of children that go missing.”

Fellow Arizona Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran and Paul Gosar were among the co-sponsors on the resolution.

President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day in 1983 following a series of high-profile missing-children cases, including Etan Patz’s.

Etan went missing on May 25, 1979, when he was walking to his school bus stop in New York. He was 6. A suspect was sentenced in his kidnapping and murder in 2017. Etan’s body was never found; he was declared legally dead in 2001.

At least 29 murders were committed in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981 — dubbed the Atlanta child murders, even though several of the victims were adults. A suspect was convicted in the deaths of two adults, but has not been linked to the other murders. The cases were reopened in March.

Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears department store in Florida in 1981. His severed head was found two weeks later in a drainage canal along a highway. He was 6. Convicted serial killer Ottis Toole confessed to the murder then recanted before his death from liver failure in 1996. Police closed the case in 2008.

Biggs has a history of advocating for missing children. In 2017, he introduced the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act. The bill gives tribes access to federal grants used for Amber Alerts by law enforcement and creates a training program. It was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018.

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