For parents of missing children and teenagers, the news out of Cleveland last week, that three women missing for about a decade had been found alive, is "bittersweet," said Bob Lowery of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Families are happy that missing children have been found, said Mr. Lowery, senior executive director of the Missing Children Division of the nonprofit, which has its headquarters in Alexandria, Va.
"But they'd like to see that happen for themselves," he added. Of all the painful parts of having a child who is missing, Mr. Lowery said, families tell his agency that "the most painful is the not knowing."
In the Pittsburgh region, several families live in that state of not knowing. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists 17 children and teens in Allegheny County and the surrounding areas who are missing.
The family of Cherrie Mahan never learned what happened to the 8-year-old who disappeared Feb. 22, 1985, after getting off her school bus in Cabot, Butler County. Neither did the families of Jon Dabkowski and his friend Gabriel Minarcin, both of Tarentum. The two boys, then ages 11 and 10, respectively, have been missing since Jan. 14, 1982.
And for two years, the family of Alivia Christine Kail have wondered what happened to the 19-year-old Mount Washington woman. The story about the three women found after being held captive inside a Cleveland house gives some hope, said Christine DiDiano, Ms. Kail's mother.
"I think for every parent that has any kind of missing family members, children, whatever, it does give a little bit of hope," she said.
Ms. Kail was last seen March 4, 2011, when she stopped by her brother's house in West Mifflin to pick up clothes for a trip to Florida with her boyfriend.
She hasn't been seen since, and Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said Monday there was "nothing new to report" in her case, declining to divulge information about any theories police may have about what happened to Ms. Kail, whether police believe she is still alive and whether there are any suspects. He said police continue to investigate the case.
And so, Ms. Kail's family is left waiting, wondering what happened to their daughter and whether they will see her again.
"A lot of waiting," Ms. DiDiano said. "All of our lives have changed, especially mine of course. It's not knowing."