Carl DeFebo
Manager, Media and Public Relations

C  O  M  M  I  S  S  I  O  N       N  E  W  S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E


Carl DeFebo
717-920-7176, desk
717-645-2265, mobile

Kate Philips

October 21, 2005



Turnpike becomes nation's first highway to help find missing children.

HEMPFIELD TWP., WESTMORELAND CO. (OCT. 21, 2005) — Governor Edward G. Rendell made the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission today the first transportation agency in the country to participate in a national movement to speed the recovery of missing children.

The Governor said the commonwealth, the Turnpike Commission and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children have teamed up to hang posters of missing kids in every one of the 21 service plazas across the commonwealth.

“It’s unsettling when we hear news about missing or abused children,” Governor Rendell said. “Some of us feel outrage. Most of us wish there was something we could do to help. Now there’s a way to do that with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s groundbreaking step to bring these kids back home.”

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has had success with its campaign, finding one child for every six it posts a picture of on a poster.

Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier joined Governor Rendell in unveiling one of the missing children posters. Each poster is emblazoned with the Center’s campaign slogan, “Picture Them Home,” and showcases six separate photos of missing children, many of them Pennsylvanians, with information on what to do if travelers spot one of them.

“Because abductors commonly use cross-country arteries as escape routes during a kidnapping, the use of Turnpike rest stops makes sense as prime locales to identify, report and hopefully recover abductees,” Brimmeier said. “More than 190 million motorists drive on the state’s toll roads every year.”

NCMEC President and CEO Ernie Allen said Pennsylvania’s participation in the program will encourage other states to take part.

“We hope Pennsylvania’s participation will serve as a model for other states and that their turnpike systems will soon join a movement that will cover the nation coast-to-coast.”

As a national photo partner, the Pennsylvania Turnpike joins prominent businesses such as Canon U.S.A., Firestone Tire & Service Centers, Court-TV, USA Today and Wal-Mart in the distribution of missing children photos throughout the nation. Widespread coverage from the Turnpike and more than 300 other photo partners gives NCMEC and law-enforcement officials indispensable leads resulting in the return of hundreds of missing children.

The “Picture Them Home” campaign is designed to raise awareness of the power of pictures in finding children. It aims to make people understand that they can actually play a role in recognizing a missing child from a poster and reuniting that child with his or her family.

“Pictures work,” Governor Rendell said. “If more people take the time to look at them, more families will be reunited. Whenever you pass a missing child poster, really look at it. Don’t think you can’t help ... you can. Never be complacent about studying these pictures. One day, you might help bring a child home.”

NCMEC encourages parents to keep current, high-quality pictures of their children, regardless of their ages, and update them at least annually. A recent poll of law enforcement found that investigators consider pictures to be the single most important tool in the search for missing children.

“As the hectic holiday season quickly approaches, and Turnpike traffic increases as travelers head home for the holidays, we hope our customers will help us ‘Picture Them Home’ by taking time to look at these photos,” Brimmeier concluded.

The Turnpike intends to expand the program in the coming months to display the posters at its administrative offices, maintenance sheds, state-police barracks and toll plazas.


About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC’s congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 335,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 116,000 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 94,000 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit


P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676      Phone: (717) 939-9551     Fax: (717) 986-9649