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Gabby Petito case draws attention to missing people. Here are some in Dallas-Fort Worth.

·4 min read

The nation watched over the past two weeks as police searched for Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old who went missing while traveling with her boyfriend and whose body was found in Wyoming on Sept. 19.

The woman’s name trended on social media sites. Thousands of Reddit and YouTube users analyzed footage for clues about her disappearance. Communities mourned her death at vigils.

Petito’s story raised awareness about domestic violence and abuse. But the nation’s obsession with the young woman also drew criticism — the attention the case received was compared in sharp contrast to the thousands of missing people whose names never become a hashtag on Twitter.

In the last five years, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, 13 people have gone missing in Tarrant County. Eighty-one people are considered missing in the county, their cases dating to 1971.

Of the 13 people who have been reported missing since 2017 in Tarrant County, six are men and seven are women. Five are white, three are Black, two are Native American, two are Hispanic and one is Asian. Three are under the age of 18.

Thirteen people were reported missing in Tarrant County from 2017 to September 2021, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Thirteen people were reported missing in Tarrant County from 2017 to September 2021, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

To see a full list of people who have gone missing in Tarrant County, visit namus.gov/MissingPersons/Search.

People reported missing since 2020

Brenda L Matissen, 49, was last seen at her business at 716 Spring Miller Court in Arlington. The last known person to talk to her was on April 7, 2020. The person was going to meet her the following week, but Matissen disappeared.

She had red or auburn hair at the time of her disappearance, but previously had blond hair. She is white, has brown eyes and is about 5 feet, 6 inches tall.

Brenda L Matissen, 49, is a white woman who was last seen at her business at 716 Spring Miller Ct in Arlington.
Brenda L Matissen, 49, is a white woman who was last seen at her business at 716 Spring Miller Ct in Arlington.

Anyone with information about Matissen’s whereabouts can contact the Arlington police non-emergency line at 817-274-4444.

Uche Uwagwu went missing in Euless on April 2020 when she was 16. She is Black, is 5 feet, 5-inches tall, has brown eyes and brown hair and weighs about 120 pounds.

No additional information on Uche was available on NamUs. Anyone with information about her whereabouts can contact the Euless police department non-emergency line at 817-685-1526.

Uche Uwagwu is a Black girl who went missing in Euless on April 2020 when she was 16 years old.
Uche Uwagwu is a Black girl who went missing in Euless on April 2020 when she was 16 years old.

Rebecca Justus went missing in August 20, 2020, from North Richland Hills. According to court documents, Justus, then 17, was arrested in North Richland Hills on Aug. 19 and charged with failure to identify herself or providing false information to law enforcement, tampering with evidence and cocaine possession. She disappeared after she was released from jail, according to court records and NamUs.

Her home address indicated she lived in Oklahoma at the time of her arrest, according to court records.

Justus is white, has blond hair and is about 5-foot-5. Anyone with information about her whereabouts can contact the North Richland Hills police department non-emergency line at 817-281-1000.

Rebecca Justus is a white girl who went missing in August 20, 2020 from North Richland Hills.
Rebecca Justus is a white girl who went missing in August 20, 2020 from North Richland Hills.

James Chance, 48, was last seen in Grapevine on Jan. 19. He is white, 6-foot-1, weighs about 175 pounds, has red or auburn hair and had a beard when he went missing. His car, a 2005 Toyota MR2, was found abandoned at the Arkansas Welcome Center on Interstate 30, northeast of Texarkana, in March.

According to KTVT Channel 11, Chance was last seen by neighbors cleaning up water damage from the winter storm that hit North Texas in February.

Anyone with information on Chance’s whereabouts can contact detectives at cidmail@grapevinetexas.gov or call their non-emergency line at 817-410-8127.

James Chance is a 48-year-old white man who was last seen in Grapevine on Jan. 19.
James Chance is a 48-year-old white man who was last seen in Grapevine on Jan. 19.

Investigating missing person cases

When a person is reported missing, Arlington police department spokesman Tim Ciesco said, patrol officers respond to the call and talk to the person who made the report to get an much information as possible.

Officers evaluate whether the disappearance meets the criteria for any of the statewide alert systems, such as Amber, Silver or Clear alerts. In instances when police believe a missing person is in immediate danger, officers will typically continue to look for them in some capacity until they’ve exhausted every lead, Ciesco said.

For the cases that qualify, the missing person’s information is entered into a nationwide database called the National Crime Information Center — or NCIC for short. If an agency in another city or state encounters the person, they can see that they have been reported as missing out of Arlington and can notify police.

If police cannot find a missing person, their case will either be assigned to the Homicide Unit (if the missing person is 17 and older) or the Crimes Against Children Unit (if the missing person is younger than 17). Arlington police have a civilian investigator in the Homicide Unit whose primary job is to work missing persons cases, Ciesco said. She regularly follows up with family members and tries to develop new leads.

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