Lionel and Luke

After uploading the handful of tapes that I was allowed to take, Ashley and I started talking about the work that Lionel had been doing to catalog particular missing persons cases. She has been reluctant to let me see much of her grandfather’s (Lionel’s) work. She has, however, given me a little bit of backstory on why he was having Luke record cases to tapes.

Lionel had been going blind, his notebooks carried the narratives of the missing. That’s the obvious part, but the less obvious part was that Lionel was the last man left of a ham radio group called “The Search Lights.” From the 1940s until the late 80s, The Search Lights took over where local police refused, mostly in looking for missing and runaway persons in the north east of the US. Over that 40 year span, they found dozens of people- mostly runaway teens looking to get married- but also helped find the legitimately missing. A bunch of guys with amateur radios and local look outs did what the police wouldn’t.

Lionel took it further, maybe too much further. He started looking into cases only mentioned as pleas in the paper. Cases the police didn’t do anything about, but mostly cases the police couldn’t do anything about; if you witness someone disappear, but no one reports them missing, where do you go? That’s what Lionel was about. And after my older brother Luke tried to take over for Lionel, he went missing mere weeks after Lionel. That was in 1997, when I was a little kid.

I guess I just want to figure what happened to Luke, so I’m starting with Lionel.

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