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More than 45 children have gone missing in Northeast Ohio this month

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Posted at 9:37 AM, Sep 25, 2023

CLEVELAND — This weekend was busy when it came to searching for missing children. Saturday, a missing 4-year-old from Cleveland was found safe and in a separate incident, a missing 12-year-old from Ashtabula was found safe in Texas. Sunday, a missing Jackson Township 16-year-old was also found safely, but it’s also been three months since anyone has seen 15-year-old Keshaun Williams.

It’s been over 90 days since anyone has seen the 15-year-old. Saturday, the group Cleveland Missing gathered in Slavic Village to canvas the area near where Williams was last seen.

“There’s just not enough police officers in the streets to do this as law enforcement,” said John Majoy, President of Cleveland Missing and Police Chief Village of Newburgh Heights. “The public is our greatest asset. We can’t do this without the public.”

Mary Williams said she feels her concerns on her grandson's whereabouts are falling on deaf ears despite this latest search effort.

“If it’s beyond that and something unthinkable has happened, I know that God is there,” Williams said. “God is with him and he’s protected and wherever he is, god is, I know that.”

Aside from Williams, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s missing children website, in August there were over 35 missing minors in the greater Cleveland-Akron area, and so far in September, there are over 45. Local law enforcement agencies report missing children to the National Crime Information Center which then goes to the state’s website. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said oftentimes there are inconsistencies like updating reports, which departments like Cleveland police have admitted to in the past. Yost said those numbers are alarming.

“Yes, of course, we are worried about that,” said Yost. “Now, what we know is when we look behind the numbers, some of those represent repeated runaways and local police have talked about that.”

Whether it’s repeat runaways, criminal offenders, or even sexual assault evidence kit tracking, Yost said data in Ohio isn’t always entered thoroughly.

“All of these things have localized reporting problems that again are a function of local conditions,” Yost said. “We do our best to encourage compliance and improve assistance to remove barriers, but at the end of the day, we have to rely on our local partners that we don’t control. I am fearful of all kinds of things that fall through the cracks that include missing children. I rely on the tenacity of a worried parent more than I do a harried bureaucrat whose job it is to put data into a computer.”

One of those worried parents is Breana Brown. This year the mother of four started the organization JUMP which stands for ‘Join us in minors protection' to help bolster support and awareness.

“As a community, I feel like we need to do more,” said Brown. “We need to make it a priority. If we make more things like this a priority, we will be more on top of it, such as updating the website so we can know who is missing. This is our community; we want to know what’s going on in our community and with our children especially.”

Brown hosted a community gathering this month, sharing parenting tips while bringing awareness to the other Northeast Ohio kids beyond Keshuan who still haven’t made it back home.

“We have so many missing children, we want to prevent this from happening, so we need to buckle down,” Brown added. “This is not a matter we should take lightly, not at all.”

Yost said the state is now working with the University of Toledo to develop an improved statewide data collection and reporting system, but for now, he said continued reporting deficiencies and even search efforts tie back to under-resourced law enforcement.

“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere and can't see everything,” Yost said. “We rely on the people, the population because we have 11.7 million pairs of eyes out there that can keep an eye out.”

For Williams' family, they aren’t letting shortages impact them in their search efforts and won’t stop until he’s found.

“Keshaun, if you’re watching this, please come home,” said Sherice Snowden, Keshaun's mother. ‘We are waiting for you to come home. You can come home, it’s ok."

News 5 reached out to Cleveland Police repeatedly through email for an interview on this topic and no one was made available.

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