Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Search continues for missing girl
Chief: Single, 15, a runaway, may be living in Illinois

by Steve Targo

February 09, 2012

BLOOMFIELD — People are still looking for Canada Single.

The local 15-year-old girl was reported missing Sept. 24, 2011. Last week, fliers were distributed throughout the area asking people to help find her.

“During my tenure, this is the longest we’ve had someone go missing here,” Bloomfield Police Chief Steve Cole said during a telephone interview Thursday, Feb. 2.

But Single’s disappearance didn’t set off an Amber Alert or prompt police to contact local media outlets.

That’s because she was reported as a juvenile runaway, and Cole said there is still no reason to believe she is in danger, being held against her will or in need of immediate medical attention.

“There’s absolutely nothing suspicious about this one and this isn’t the first time this person has gone missing,” Cole said.

According to Cole, this is the fourth time Single has been reported as a runaway. The first three times occurred within a month prior to Sept. 24.

In October 2011, fliers listing Single as a runaway went up at Bloomfield Town Hall and other area locations.

The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children created the fliers and still has her listed as missing on its website. Recently, someone “unrelated” to the family took an interest in the case and is circulating more fliers, Cole said.

Police suspect Single is living in Illinois.

Cole said her father lives in Big Rock, Ill.

During a previous incident when Single ran away, she was taken into custody by Kane County authorities. Big Rock is located within that county.

Cole said as far as he knows, Single has not been reported missing by her father.

But when a runaway from Wisconsin is suspected of moving to Illinois, it requires Bloomfield police to bring law enforcement agencies from another state into the mix.

“We did get the Illinois authorities to go to (Single’s) father’s house looking for her. … The agencies in Illinois have been great and accommodating,” Cole said. “Unfortunately, up to this point, it hasn’t worked out for us. But we’ll keep trying to find her.”

Dealing with the aftermath

Cole said although it’s unfortunate, juvenile runaway complaints are not rare.

“We’re right around 30 complaints a year,” he said, adding some years have brought that number closer to 40.

The number of complaints doesn’t match the number of runaways, such as in Single’s case.

“When kids run away, we find them, we bring them back,” Cole said. “Sometimes, they’re there a day and then they’re gone (again). Sometimes, you get them once. Sometimes, you get them 10 times. Sometimes, you get them 20 times. Sometimes, (the runaways) get counseling and they don’t do it anymore. Others don’t.”

He said he believes the majority of runaway complaints involve children whose parents have divorced or separated. But other families experience the problem, too.

“Some children are still with their biological parents, but maybe they have been hanging around the wrong crowd or aren’t happy with the rules that are being impressed upon them,” Cole said.

He said typically, at the longest, it may take one to two weeks to find a juvenile runaway.

“Usually, it takes us only a day or two,” Cole said.

He added they usually don’t leave the state.

When police find a runaway, they take the child into custody and it’s up to the parent or legal guardian to bring them home.

“We try to refer them to counseling at (Walworth County’s) Health and Human Services Department,” Cole said. “They offer a really good counseling program. But we’re usually dealing with the aftermath of the problem. There’s typically something happening in the home or elsewhere in the child’s life. We’re only dealing with what’s happening because of that problem.”

When someone is reported a juvenile runaway, police reaction depends on the information that’s reported.

For example, when a 13-year-old Lake Geneva girl was reported missing in December 2011, an Amber Alert was issued after evidence suggested the girl may have been in danger.

She was later found at a hotel in Elkhorn and a 21-year-old man from Nebraska still faces charges stemming from the incident.

Cole said Single’s case is much different.

“I can’t get into a whole lot of it, but through social media, there’s evidence she is still fine,” he said. “She’s just not with (her legal guardian). She’s a runaway. … You hate to use the term ‘just a runaway,’ but there’s absolutely nothing to indicate she has been assaulted or abducted.”