Holts Summit woman offers hope to families of missing during holidays

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HOLTS SUMMIT - They holidays can bring a rush of loss and grief to those with missing loved ones. A group in Holts Summit works to make the season easier for them.

Missouri Missing completed its annual "missing tree," which honors missing, lost or deceased loved ones in Missouri.

Cookie ornaments personally decorated with the names of those lost are hung on a tree in the Holts Summit home of Missouri Missing founder and Executive Director Marianne Asher-Chapman.

“We have approximately 196 ornaments on this tree," she said. "They’re so heavy that they’re covering each other. I started with 40 ornaments a few years ago.” 

The mission of Missouri Missing is one that Asher-Chapman holds extremely close, as her own daughter disappeared in 2003 after being domestically abused.

“We’ve never been able to find her remains. I still actively take a shovel and go to the property and look for Angie, and as long as I’m able, I’m gonna look for Angie,” Asher-Chapman said.

One of the newly added ornaments is in honor of Darnell Gray. The 4-year-old was reported missing in October and his body was found a short time later. His caretaker was arrested in connection with his death.

“It was really a difficult thing. In the end it was not a good outcome, but we are glad he was found,” Asher-Chapman said.

She said she hopes to one day see the tree displayed in the state Capitol.

“It really seems like a pretty big endeavor, but it’s not impossible and I never give up on anything ever,” she said.

Asher-Chapman said, despite it's tragic origins, she wants the tree to be a symbol of hope.

Anyone can add the name of a missing loved one to the tree by messaging the group’s Facebook page with a request.