Oklahoma's missing: Hundreds of missing persons cases, some decades-old

For the families of the missing, it’s living life in the unknown. Is their loved one still alive? Where are they? (KTUL)

There are more than 200 people who are “missing persons” in Oklahoma. Those cases go back decades. They used to be faces on milk cartons, but now they fill social media and the internet.

The pictures and posters still have the same look, someone is missing and their family is desperate to find them.

“To sit around and not know,” said Cherie Puckett. “That pain ought to be tremendous.”

There’s someone who’s been absent in Cherie and Paul Puckett’s lives. Their daughter Samantha has been missing since November 2016.

“She was very caring, very loving and very sweet,” said Cherie. “She thought she could save the world.”

For the families of the missing, it’s living life in the unknown. Is their loved one still alive? Where are they?

“We knew when she was gone for the holidays with her son, she was gone,” said Cherie.

Sergeant Tim Means with the Tulsa Police Department is one of three officers who investigate missing persons cases. He said on average they get anywhere from 350 to 450 cases per year.

“Each case is different. We look at all the evidence that’s there,” said Means. “We have long term missing persons which in that case, the person just disappeared.”

He said the majority of people reported missing are found. However, it’s when they’re gone for weeks, months or years when the case changes from a “missing persons” to a “homicide.”

“Several could end up being a homicide. We don’t have the person or the information to prove it one way or another,” said Means.

People go missing for a variety of reasons. Means said the most common are mental illness, addiction or physical and mental abuse. The Pucketts say their daughter went missing because she was being abused.

“There was absolutely nothing I could do. We had talked, we had discussed, we had cried, we had begged,” said Cherie. “We had done everything we could do to get her to listen to us.”

Samantha’s boyfriend at the time she went missing killed himself when police showed up at his home in December 2016, leaving the Pucketts without an answer to their question, where is their daughter?

“Every time they find bones or remains somewhere, you just hope it could possibly be her,” said Cherie.

The two said they’ve given up hope their daughter is still alive, but they want more than anything, to bring her home.

“We don’t have her remains, but we have enough to know that our daughter isn’t walking back through the door,” said Paul.

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