By K.D. Norris
Hearing him talk at a Silent Observer press conference Tuesday detailing four cold cases, you get the feeling that City of Wyoming police Lt. Mark Easterly, and the city’s detectives, take missing persons cases personally.
When discussing the case of Gerardo DeJesus Hipolito-Lopez, who went missing from a 28th Street bar nearly six years ago, Lt. Easterly did not call the missing person “Mr. Hipolito-Lopez”; instead repeatedly personalizing the man by calling him simply “Gerardo.”
“On November 20th, 2011, Gerardo had been drinking at a 28th Street bar with a family member,” Lt. Easterly said at the June 27 meeting at Silent Observer’s downtown Grand Rapids office. “When they exited the bar that night, their vehicle wouldn’t start. At that point, the family member he was with went to nearby home to get another vehicle. At that time, Gerardo was waiting at the bar, and when the family member returned, he was gone.”
And the Lieutenant also made clear why the Wyoming police department and other regional investigators are asking for the public’s help, for tips, for anything that can push a case forward.
“Hopefully with that one tip, it will lead to something else — that will lead to something else,” he said. “And, hopefully, we can bring some closure to this family. It is just heartbreaking to see a family waiting, three, four, five — in this case 6 years. … It is very important (to the family that the police are still investigating). It at least gives them the sense that, not relief, but at least we are still looking. This is not a cold case that just goes away. Our detectives are very invested in this process.”
Also at the Silent Observer event, the Grand Rapids Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff Department asked for the public’s help to either locate or determine why three other missing individuals went missing.
In addition to the case of Hipolito-Lopez, who was 56 years old when he disappeared, another case highlighted also had a Wyoming-area connection — the missing person case of Yvonne Renee Scott, who was 33 when she disappeared from 2900 block of Clyde Park Southwest in January 2004. The case is being investigated by the Kent County Sheriffs office.
Silent Observer is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the safe return of these missing people of, if a crime has been committed against them, the reward will be offered for information leading to the arrest of those involved in that crime.
“When the community is asked for help, in giving information, and help solve a crime, tips come pouring into the program,” Silent Observer Program Director Chris Cameron said. “We are hopeful we will receive some good leads from this initiative … tips to Silent Observer can help right the wrongs of others, and help the loved ones of those missing find answers, closure and possibly justice.”
Grand Rapids Chief of Police David Rahinksy also stressed the importance of the public’s assistance.
“People don’t just disappear,” Chief Rahinsky said. “These are four cases, four family members, you have the Kent County Sheriffs Office represented, Wyoming public safety and Grand Rapids police department. We have exhausted our ability to work these cases through traditional means. What we need is the public’s help. Somebody in the community knows what happened to these individuals. Regardless of how insignificant the information may be, it may be the piece that gives these families closure.”
To submit an anonymous tip to Silent Observer, call 616-774-2345 or toll free at 1-866-774-2345, or visit silentobserver.org. The City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety Detective Bureau can be reached at 616-530-7335.