JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Action News Jax investigation revealed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was never contacted by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in the case of missing teen Fred Laster.
Laster was killed in June 1994. Action News Jax showed you last week how Laster's sister reported him missing in February 1995. His dismembered body was finally identified 21 years later.
Laster’s disappearance was entered into a national FBI database as is required by law, but the leading nonprofit that helps locate missing children, NCMEC, was not notified until 2014 when the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office reached out to it.
Ronnie Hyde of Jacksonville Beach was arrested and charged last week with Laster's 1994 murder. Since then, Action News Jax has been investigating the steps law enforcement took to solve the case and whether every available resource was used to identify a suspect.
NCMEC serves as a vital resource to finding missing children. So far, it’s helped recover more than 237,000 children.
Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said law enforcement agencies often grapple with lack of manpower, and it's easy to see why something that was not required wasn't done.
“The failing seems to be one of omission, it's not something they did intentionally,” Carson said.
In 2014, legislation passed requiring children missing from foster care to be reported to NCMEC.
But NCMEC encourages every law enforcement agency to share information any time there’s a missing child.
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