Anatomy of a Missing Child Recovery

Here is the story of how a missing child named Claire* was found and returned to her mother.


Robert Taylor planned the parental kidnapping of his own daughter-- and committed it during a court-ordered visitation.

He left notes to his daughter’s mother Joan, his own mother, the Judge in the custody case, and his other children telling them he was leaving with Claire.

Claire, a 3 month old babe-in-arms, was sick at the time of her kidnapping, and on medications. Her father took her without having all the medications.

Police acted quickly and issued a felony warrant for parental abduction. They officially categorized Claire as “endangered,” because of her age and her need for her medications.

Day 1

A month later, Claire was still missing from her home in Illinois. Her distressed mother Joan called the Polly Klaas Foundation’s 24/7 hotline.

Joan spent about an hour discussing the case with one of our professional caseworkers. She emailed photos of Claire and Robert. She also faxed a consent form, agreeing to work with the Foundation to help find her missing daughter. (All services are provided free of charge.)

Day 2

The caseworker finished Claire’s missing child poster, which also included a picture of her abducting father, Robert.

Claire’s photo was placed on the home page of our website,

200 copies of Claire’s missing child poster were express mailed overnight to Claire’s mom, to help her search for her child.

Day 3

Detective Dawkin of the Police Department in Claire’s home town in Illinois, was the lead detective on the case. He called and approved a fax distribution of missing child posters. He suggested several locations in addition to the locations suggested by Claire’s mother—Alabama, Iowa, and Illinois.

Our caseworker requested a fax list from our service provider for locations in those states--such as hospitals and gas stations, as well as pool service shops, TV repair shops, and video arcades.

Day 4

The fax list arrived. Claire’s missing child poster was immediately fax blasted to the targeted locations.

Day 5

12:00 pm
Our caseworker received a call from David in Iowa, a neighboring state. He had seen Claire’s missing child poster with a picture of her father Robert. David was an old friend of Robert’s, but he hadn’t seen him in a long time.

The previous week, David had received a phone message from Robert, saying he was staying in town with another friend, and leaving the address and phone number. David had not had time to return the phone call. And, he wasn’t certain Robert was still at that address.

David had called the Police Department in Claire’s home town (the phone number was on Claire’s missing child poster.) But dispatch told him to call back later, when Detective Dawkin was in. They didn’t take any information. David then called the Polly Klaas Foundation number (this was also on Clare’s missing child poster,) and left the information with the caseworker.

12:10 pm
Our caseworker immediately faxed the information about Robert Taylor, and the contact information for David to Detective Dawkin. She then called the detective on his direct line to make sure he received the fax. He thanked her for the information.

His first task was to contact the Police Department in the Iowa town where David and Robert were located. He needed to officially arrange for them to interview David, then pick-up Robert, and hopefully recover baby Claire.

2.00 pm
David once again called our caseworker. Claire’s father had just paged him, leaving the same phone number and indications he was at the same address. Our caseworker gave David Detective Dawkin’s direct line, and instructed him to call immediately. Our caseworker immediately faxed this information to the Police Department in Illinois.

2:35 pm
Our caseworker called David to make sure he had been able to speak with Detective Dawkin. David told her that local Iowa police detectives who had been contacted by Detective Dawkin in Illinois were at his home getting briefed. They would shortly be on their way to pick up Robert.

4:45 pm
Robert Taylor was confirmed to be in custody.

Baby Claire was returned to her relieved mother, in excellent health.  Claire’s mother later emailed our caseworker saying,

"Your poster did make the difference. I am very thankful to you for helping with the poster distribution and I am also thankful for Robert making the call to his friend who was the one that telephoned you. Thanks again, and if I may be of assistance in sending out flyers for other missing children please e-mail me to let me know."

Detective Dawkin also called thanking our caseworker, saying,

"Your foundation made my job a whole lot easier and everything worked out great...I now know the more people they bring into a case such as this the better...It is such a relief she is back home with mom."

About 97% of our cases are resolved. Some cases are resolved quickly. Some take longer. Others take much longer.  All cases take cooperation and teamwork involving family, friends, ordinary citizens, the police and the Polly Klaas Foundation.

*All names have been changed for privacy.