Locals spread awareness of missing people cases in Lane County (2024)

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- A loved one gone missing with no sign of what happened is a scary reality for hundreds of families across the state.

But now, some people in Lane County are dedicating their time to spreading awareness and helping families find answers.

Making a difference is what Lane County Mugshots founder Mike Weber said he's aiming to do every day.

"We want them not forgotten like criminals are not forgotten and plastered everywhere," Weber said. "The more these people are in everyone's minds, the more we are going to look out for them and possibly help find them."

Weber said within the last few months he's noticed missing people have become one of the main topics of conversation on their page.

"It's a huge thing going on here in Lane County, people missing, and it's kind of overlooked, underfunded, and under-covered," Weber said.

Locals spread awareness of missing people cases in Lane County (1)

Locals spread awareness of missing people cases in Lane County (2)

So, he and his team decided to do something about it.

"We are gathering these up and making them profiles. So, each missing person has their own little page, as it were, off of the list that we've built, and if we can find a picture of them, then there is a picture of that person and a little bit of bio information about -- if we have it -- where they are missing from or why they're missing," Weber said.

He also said they will show these profiles on their website, which thousands of people see daily.

"Other websites are relying on you to visit them, hopefully," Weber said. "We are pushing this in front of people. We have thousands of people that look at Lane County Mugshots, so what we've done is we've created an 'ad' that's revolving, which shows a different missing person each time you refresh the page or each page you go to on LaneCountyMugshots.com. In the past two weeks, we've had half a million impressions on those ads."

Weber said this is no easy task, saying their tight-knit team of three people will spend eight to 10 hours working on the website a day. But they're working overtime in hopes of growing the website beyond Lane County.

"Our goal is to start doing other counties," Weber said. "And we want these push ads to be everywhere. We've designed them to where they can be on anybody's website if they wanted to sponsor them, and then they can push missing people on a rotation basis on their website."

Weber said the main hurdle right now is how much time each profile takes to verify and find the right pictures of each missing person.

"This is not a paying job; we are not doing this so we can buy a house or a brand-new car," Weber said. "This makes no money, and it's costing us money. I have dedicated my time to the Mugshot website and this missing persons list."

There's a GoFundMe if you'd like to help out.

Back in 2020, Amanda Popineau created her podcast 'Nowhere to be Found' in hopes of raising awareness for those who have been nowhere to be found.

"I didn't realize until I started this podcast how many missing people there were, especially in Lane County alone," Popineau said.

Popineau is working on the fifth season of the podcast and said with a lot of the cases she's covered, she's noticed a slight trend.

"Something I've noticed and am looking deeper into is this drug connection," Popineau said. "I didn't realize how present, especially in some of these rural areas, there is some very, very strong drug ring presence. It's kind of alarming."

She said the best thing people can do is to keep talking about each missing person, making their name known.

"This is something that has touched my heart in a personal way watching these tragedies," Popineau said. "But there's also been a lot of good, and seeing the silver lining in these cases has been seeing the community pull around these families."

Tom Speldrich with the Lane County Sheriff's Office said so far this year, they've received 77 missing people reports. He said when looking at missing persons cases, in many cases the people who go missing don't tell people where they're going.

"Always let somebody know where you are going, let somebody know when you think you'll be back," Speldrich said. "Bring a cell phone with you and make sure it's charged."

Speldrich said they take missing person reports seriously and work hard to solve them. He said out of the 77 cases called in since the start of the year, only five remain open.

Locals spread awareness of missing people cases in Lane County (2024)

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