Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. and How it came to be
Updated: Jan 9
Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. officially became a nonprofit in August 2017. Three of the Board Members have missing loved ones. They have formed a bond over their very tragic experiences and decided to join together to help others in similar situations. Meet Marsha, Jackie, and Jenna...
My name is Marsha Loritz. On April 25, 2013, my mother, Victoria Prokopovitz, went missing from her rural home sometime between the hours of 10 pm April 25th and 3 am April 26th. Her cell phone, purse, money, and cigarettes were left behind, and she did not have any sort of transportation.
Prior to my mom going missing, I had only heard of missing persons on TV. I didn’t personally know anyone that had a missing loved one. My pretty normal life changed overnight, and my life was turned upside down! I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I became aware of the difficulty families face when a loved one goes missing.
Daily living became difficult, sometimes feeling impossible! I found it difficult to work, eat, or sleep. I didn’t know how to live in this new world of the missing. There are so many questions, and no answers. All I could think about was finding my mom and I became desperate for answers.
In January of 2015, we were approaching the 2-year marker of my mom going missing. (Notice I use ‘marker’ instead of ‘anniversary’ as to me an anniversary is a happy occasion to celebrate, this is not.) I was becoming aware of the number of missing persons and I started researching Wisconsin’s missing persons.
My research left me in in disbelief! I knew I had to do something, so I wrote to Governor Scott Walker, telling him who I was, what happened with my mom, and the information I had found about others that are missing in Wisconsin.
I asked him to grant a Missing Persons Awareness Day, and was surprised when he came back with a Missing Persons Awareness Month! With this proclamation, I knew I had to hold an event. One month later, On April 26, 2015 the first Wisconsin Missing Persons Awareness Event was held in Green Bay, WI.
Information was shared about Search and Rescue, prevention and safety, and Wisconsin’s missing. The Missing Persons Awareness Event also gave families of the missing a place to share their story and to connect with other families who have missing loved ones.
I was nervous about hosting this event wondering if anyone would attend, or if the public would even care. I had felt so alone up to this point but felt it in my heart that this was something I had to do!
It was at that first event that I made personal connections with other families of the missing. I met Jenna Wood and her family, as well as, a few other families with missing loved ones. For the first time, I had a sense of relief to see and feel that I was not alone!
That first event was well received. With the support I felt, I knew that I had to hold it again in 2016! I had a little more time to plan, and was able to reach out to various law enforcement agencies to see if they could help me reach more families.
It was at the 2016 event that I met Jackie Kort. She was the first person that I ever met that had a missing mother. She knew exactly how I was feeling and we had an instant bond!
Jackie, Jenna, and I were able to offer each other a sense of support that we were not able to find anywhere else. I felt like I had a new source of support in these ladies! We stayed in contact and I knew I had to host another event in 2017!
The third year for our Missing Persons Awareness Event felt like a family reunion for me! I was so excited to see my friends from the "world of the missing'. At the end of the event we couldn’t believe
how fast the time had gone, and we were not ready to leave!
I got to work planning the 2018 event the very next week!
This event is necessary for awareness and for the families!
I feel as though God has connected me with these ladies and restored hope.
I have found it has become my passion and purpose to be a source of support for other families and an advocate for the missing.
Through the work I have done, Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. was born. Our hope is that by raising awareness and developing supportive services for families, who share our current position and quest for answers, we can lessen the burden in such a difficult situation.
I have had the privilege of meeting, and connecting with some amazing people through all of this, including my two fellow board members, Jenna Wood and Jackie Kort.
Together we CAN make a difference!
Missing since April 25th, 2013
If you have any information, please contact
Green Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 920-432-7867
or Brown county Sheriff’s Office at 920-448-4230.
NamUs link: https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/22597/0/
The Charley Project link: http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/p/prokopovitz_victoria.html
My dedicated FB to my mom: https://www.facebook.com/helpfindvickiprokopovitz
Our Marathons Should Not Be Run Alone
Today is the day that I’ve reached the farthest of my strides and tomorrow each step will extend beyond the previous. Although it feels as if I’ve been running a marathon with no finish line, I am determined to keep moving forward. And if I ever do reach that line, I know that there will be a start of another difficult, new “race” that lies ahead.
I’m Jackie Kort, daughter of “missing” Dona Mae Bayerl. The morning of May 6, 1979 changed my life forever when I woke up as a young child and my mother had mysteriously vanished from our home. I’ve never learned the “real story” of what happened that night before, but I will never give up and will continue to search for those answers.
I’ve lived in, which seemed like, a lonely “world of the missing” nearly my entire life. I am fortunate to have had many wonderful people to help me through challenges that I faced but none of them really understood what I’ve been through and what I continue to go through even now today.
That is until… Marsha Loritz, daughter of missing Victoria Prokopovitz, contacted me March of 2015 to invite me to her second annual Wisconsin Missing Persons Awareness Event that was held that following month. Without hesitation, I attended.
This was the very first time in my life that I had met other missing persons’ families. I learned of the work Marsha has been doing for all the missing in Wisconsin, giving our missing loved ones a voice. New resources were introduced to me at the event and I cherished the connections with others.
Although this event was a bit overwhelming to me, I anxiously awaited to attend future missing persons’ events because I learned that I am no longer alone.
In an instant, I realized how important it was to me to have the friendships and support from others in these unfortunate yet similar situations. These friendships will last a lifetime and fill some of the voids in my heart with love, support, and much needed understanding.
I am grateful to have this opportunity to do the same for others, be “a voice of the missing” and serve on the board for Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy. I’ve always wondered where I fit in this great big world. I now know that I have found it; it is right here.
Together… we are stronger with each stride.
Missing since May 6, 1979
Please call, with any information
Muskego Police Department (262) 679-5652
NamUs link: https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/19994/7
The Charley Project link: http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/b/bayerl_donamae.html
My dedicated FB to my mom: https://www.facebook.com/donabayerl/
My name is Jenna Wood. My niece, Amber Wilde, has been missing since September 23rd,1998. My first choice for dealing with this unresolved loss has been denial. While denial can be useful for a time being, it had over-run its course.
In May of 2014, I was struggling with feelings of jealousy for other families who had found their loved ones, sometimes with the sad news of their passing. Instead of feeling compassion for these families, I felt anger that it was not my niece who was not found.
I suppose I had felt that way all along, but never recognized it, until remains were found off Hwy 29 in Shawano County, Wisconsin. We believe Amber may have been murdered along that highway, so I was certain this was our answered prayer.
With news that Amber was ruled out as a possible identification, I was overcome with years of waiting that turned into intense anger and jealousy. Of course, it is not wrong to want my niece to be found. What was wrong was that I did not care about another family going through the exact same thing as our family was going through.
As I watched Marsha Loritz on the news that day offering support for the family of this missing person, I realized that it was time to start dealing with this loss.
I asked God to help me to deal with all the emotions I was struggling with. That prayer led me to contact Marsha. Which led to my first Missing Persons Awareness Event in 2015.
I made myself go to that event. If I had not talked my sisters, aunt, and niece into joining me, I very well may have backed out. It was very difficult facing my loss for the first time.
I left that day, knowing that God is answering prayers for the missing. People do get found. Most of all, I knew that I needed to meet and know other families and to see that they are not just news stories, but real people going through exactly what our family is going through.
There were still so many emotions to work through. I did not know how to deal with them all. So, I went back to what I knew until the next Missing Person’s Awareness Event in April of 2016-denial.
Again, I did not want to go to this event. I only went because I knew that I had to deal with this.
At the 2016 Event, I met Jackie Kort and her aunt Joan. Talking with them brought me great comfort. There is just something about being able to share the same type of loss with someone that can bring great support. This time, I left the event feeling almost a happiness in meeting others who have a missing family member.
Although I wanted to go home to denial, in May of 2016, the main suspect was named publicly, after Amber being missing 17 years.
This stirred a lot of emotions. I struggled with my relationship with God. I asked Him all the why and what if questions. I just do not understand why some people are found and others are not. I even went months considering my relationship with the Lord, altogether.
I was not going to attend the 2017 Missing Persons Awareness event. I was done. Done with God, done with not understanding, and ready to stick with denial.
Then, I received a message from Jackie Kort that said something like, “Will you be attending the event? It brought so much comfort to me last year?”.
With that, I knew I had to attend. It was through the 2017 Missing Persons Awareness Event, talking with Jackie and Marsha, the support of my family, and this need to find some meaning that helped me to embrace the possibility of dealing with this unresolved loss.
I felt God was leading me to find something that could be called good through something so heartbreaking, even if my prayer for Amber to be found is never answered.
I kept thinking about the Scripture 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
With God wanting me to comfort others and new friendships with Marsha and Jackie, who are able relate to what I am going through, I feel comfortable saying goodbye to denial and allowing God to use my circumstance to be of some good or comfort to someone else.
It is my hope that as a board member of Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc., the circumstance of my missing niece will be used for something I can call good.
Missing since September 23rd, 1998
Please call, with any information
Green Bay Police at (920) 448-3205 or contact
Crime Stoppers at (920) 432-STOP.
NamUs link: https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/775/2
The Charley Project
“To raise awareness for the Missing by bringing them a voice and supporting the families who are affected by working together to advocate for the Missing. It will also work to provide educational and informational activities to increase public awareness and to increase public knowledge of prevention measures.”
2221 S Webster Ave Ste A #194
Green Bay, WI 54301