JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of families united by a common yet tragic bond gathered Friday at Jacksonville City Hall to raise awareness about loved ones who have been missing for months and, in some cases, years.
Georgette Antolik was among those who showed up to the Florida Missing Adults Day ceremony, where Mayor Lenny Curry offered families yellow roses signaling that their loved ones have not been forgotten.
For Antolik, it's a day to reflect on her sister, 49-year-old Michelle Ennis. She said Ennis drifted around, but always kept in touch with family. Ennis was last seen in Riverside in July 2015. Her family, including two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren, has been waiting for answers ever since.
"You pretend every day that life goes on," Antolik told News4Jax. "But there's that piece that does not."
Melissa Jackson can relate to the pain of not knowing. Her 18-year-old son, Corbin, disappeared last July. To this day, she treasures some of the last photos taken of him before he was reported missing, though they’re reminders of the one-of-a-kind smile she’s been forced to live without.
“Every day I struggle for my peace, to have peace of mind, to be able to function,” Jackson said.
Some of the families who spoke with News4Jax have a hunch that there’s more to their loved ones’ disappearances. They believe someone knows what happened, and they’re hoping those people will come forward with information that can bring them some small measure of peace.
“All I wanted is closure,” said Jackson. “My life cannot continue without closure.”
In 2018 alone, there were 3,318 missing persons reports filed wiht the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Sixty-eight percent for juveniles, 32-percent for adults. Of those reports 1,040 were filed for adults and all but seven have been found. Undersheriff Pat Ivey shared the information at Friday’s ceremony.
For now, people like Antolik said they cannot give up on their loved ones’ cases. They must carry on in the hopes of someday finding the answers they seek.
“You have faith to go on, you have hope to go on,” she said. “And love endures everything.”
If you know anything about the missing people featured in this story, you’re asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.