Florida Missing Children’s Day: Local families to attend ceremony at Florida Capitol

2,300 children are missing every day in the United States

New age progression photos of Bryan Hayes (left) and Mark Degner (right) were released Sunday. (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There are eight active Amber Alerts and three missing children notices currently posted on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website.

For the 24th year — families of currently missing children and those once reported missing will gather for Florida Missing Children’s Day. The ceremony is dedicated to acknowledging all of the missing children throughout the state with the hopes to bring closure or peace to some of their families.

Family members — including those of Mark Degner and Bryan Hayes — will be in attendance. The disappearance of Degner and Hayes is one of the most high-profile missing children’s cases in our region. The two boys were last seen leaving Paxon Middle School together in February of 2005.

Mark Degner was 12 and Bryan Hayes was just 13 when they vanished. More than 15 years later the search for the teens —now men — continues.

In 2020, their families told News4Jax they are still holding out hope that the two will be found.

Parents of Somer Thompson are also expected at the Tallahassee event. Investigators said Thompson was abducted on October 19, 2009, while walking home from school.

Her remains were found in a Southeast Georgia Landfill and the killer Jarred Harrell is serving six consecutive life sentences.

Tristyn Bailey’s family will also be in attendance. The 13-year-old was murdered, and her body was found hours after her family reported her missing in 2021.

Bailey’s former schoolmate Aiden Fucci is facing first-degree murder in her death.

The ceremony will be held Monday at 10 a.m. inside the Florida Capitol Courtyard.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.