FDLE holds annual Missing Children’s Day at the Capitol

Missing Children's Day at Florida's Capitol
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:04 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - It was an emotional day for the families of missing children.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement held its annual ceremony at the Capitol, remembering children who are gone but not forgotten.

Annette Sykes has been coming to the ceremony each year for more than a decade, after her great-granddaughter went missing in 2009.

With each year that passes, she says the pain doesn’t get any easier.

“It’s just the same, you know, every year,” Sykes said. “We have to come to represent HaLeigh.”

Sykes has spent the last 13 years hoping and praying her great-granddaughter would be found, after the 5-year-old vanished in February of 2009 from her home in Satsuma, Florida.

But year after year - nothing. No clue as to where HaLeigh might be.

“After all these years, we still don’t know any more than that,” Sykes said.

Sykes is one of about a dozen families recognized at Florida’s Annual Missing Children’s Day ceremony, placing roses next to pictures of their loved ones.

“We still come here every year to place that rose to remember her,” Sykes said.

According to FDLE, more than 25,000 incidents of missing kids were reported last year in Florida.

They say it takes everyone, from law enforcement to everyday citizens, to help bring these children home.

One tool law enforcement uses is Amber Alerts.

“When you hear those alerts in your area, please take a look at that,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said. “Don’t shut that feature off on your phone.”

Glass says even years after a child has gone missing, law enforcement officials don’t give up on trying to find them.

“We’re always out there trying to recover these children,” Glass said. “No matter how long it takes, no matter how many years it is.”

Family members at Monday’s ceremony aren’t giving up either, still hoping that one day their child will come home.

“She’s out there someplace,” Sykes said. “We just want somebody to bring her home.”

There have been more than 270 Amber Alerts issued since they were created in 1996. Those alerts have directly helped to rescue 81 children.

The number to report a missing child or adult to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is 1-888-FL-MISSING. (1-888-356-4774).