About 15 family members gathered Saturday afternoon in Holts Summit to mark another year passed since a daughter disappeared.
Balloons were released and green ribbons tied around a tree.
Not all the people present at Marianne Asher-Chapman's home of 16 years were family by blood, but they were all at least part of a kinship of lost kin, united by knowing someone who's been missing.
Asher-Chapman's daughter Michelle Yarnell, affectionately known as Angie, has been missing for 14 years.
Angie's husband Michael Yarnell plead guilty to manslaughter in 2009 after he said he'd accidentally killed her in a domestic dispute six years earlier, then took her body to the Lake of the Ozarks. He served four years in prison, but Angie wasn't found.
Her mom doesn't believe Yarnell's explanation.
"I really, truly believe she's on that property, in a shallow grave," she said of where Angie and Michael used to live in Ivy Bend in Morgan County.
"She deserves to come home and have a dignified burial, like anybody else."
She doesn't own the property, but the current owner lets her search it.
"The first couple times that my sister, my husband and I went and did a physical search up in Ivy Bend, I was terrified. I was so nervous, I was scared I was going to find her," Asher-Chapman said. "For a long time, I was so scared I was going to find Angie, and now, I'm so scared I'm never going to find her. I want to find her. I want to find a skull. I want to find it."
Missouri's Missing celebrates 10 years of hopeRead more
One time, she thought she had found her daughter, but it was just an "old, bleached-out turtle shell, but from a distance, I thought 'there's Angie.' It was in an area she seemed like she could have been, and I was so relieved it wasn't. However, nowadays, I'd be disappointed that it was a turtle shell. I, of course, don't want my girl to be gone, but I just need to find her.
"I go in caves, been in sinkholes, crawled under homes, old abandoned properties. I've walked through burnt out properties. I've had people come up to me and want to know what I'm doing on their property, and it's scary. I didn't even mean to be on it," she said of where her search for Angie has taken her.
She eventually went on to co-found Missouri Missing, a nonprofit that helps other families and friends find the closure she doesn't have yet.
"When they're found alive, I feel really good — really, really good. I can't even describe how good that feels. When they're found deceased, wow, it just takes a piece out of my heart, it feels like," she said of the personal connection she feels to those other people's stories when an ending can be reached.
"But, at the same time, even though it takes a piece out of my heart, I know that that person is not going to spend the next 14 years still looking for the remains. Even though it's a bad outcome, it's better than not knowing," she said.
"Even now, I have to admit, I still have just the sliver of hope that she could be alive. I do, because I have nothing tangible. If I could even have one fingernail, and the DNA says it's hers, that'd be OK."
In terms of what keeps her going, "I just keep trying to help other families. When Angie went missing, there was nobody to help me."
She said things have gotten somewhat better. When a family contacts her for help now or if she hears of their case, "I know exactly what to tell them, the steps to take, all the critical, crucial things that you need, you really need this right off the bat to help and I didn't know any of these things when Angie went missing."
Social media helps get the word out about missing people faster, she said, addinghunters and other people involved in outdoor activities have better awarness about of their surroundings. "If you're out there in the woods, hunting, and you see some old coat, let's say under a tree, just go over there and kick it over," and don't just immediately write it off as litter, she said.
Still, she said there's room for improvement. Beyond wanting more attention paid by media outlets and law enforcement, "there are still agencies out there that will tell families they have to wait 48 hours to file a missing persons report. That is absolutely untrue. It's a misconception."
She added law enforcement might not take a report immediately for some other circumstance. "But let me put it like this, there is no waiting period," Asher-Chapman said.
She wants all missing people listed with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, too.
As of Saturday morning, Cole County has nine active adult and five active juvenille missing persons cases — people who may have been missing since 1953, according to Highway Patrol statistics.
Callaway County has three active juvenille missing persons cases.