Social media key in search for missing Vernon man

Facebook group admin R.L. Dakin has managed 50 missing persons pages

Behind the intense social media-based manhunt for Vernon hotel manager Jay Rosenberger, one administrator name was reappearing in the group that garnered more than 5,300 members in only a few days.

The Missing: Jay Rosenberger Facebook group is the 50th missing person’s page the Alberta-based organizer, R.L Dakin, as they prefer to be called, has set up.

Dakin, who is an admin for active groups in Manitoba, Oregon, Alberta and British Columbia, doesn’t personally know the 38-year-old Vernon hotel manager but rather empathizes with the family.

READ MORE: Missing Vernon man located

“I’m someone who has had a loved one go missing,” Dakin said. “In our case, we were fortunate and able to locate them and reconnect, but I can certainly empathize with the fear and dread families go through.”

“This is a very gruelling emotional experience.”

Due to Dakin’s personal experience, closer attention was paid to social media feeds when it came to notices of other missing people.

“I would join those groups and help where I could,” Dakin said.

It was there Dakin noticed some groups were disorganized and not run as efficiently as they could be. Dakin also knew families searching for a loved one don’t have the time to monitor Facebook groups, rather they’re often the boots on the ground in the search.

Dakin is not compensated for the work or time invested into managing the Facebook groups.

A “secret ingredient” in Facebook groups for missing people stands out to Dakin as a primary reason to stay involved.

“It’s love,” Dakin said. “We may not have known or loved the missing person, but every person who connects, every person who takes the time to share or print or hang a poster, they do it all because they love. Someone. Somewhere. And it’s that awareness that helps connect them to these people who are missing and their families.”

Dakin said all missing persons Facebook groups transition. The most common form of a transition, Dakin noted, is from a short-term search to a long-term, but in Rosenberger’s case, the group transitioned to “located.”

“The most positive form of transition is when the missing person is located, safe,” Dakin said.

But that doesn’t mean the group closes up and shuts down.

Now, Dakin said, there’s cleanup to do.

“When a missing person is located and safe, we do some tidy-up in order to return as much privacy to them as we can.”

Dakin suggests people re-visit their homepage or group where poster links may have been shared and take them down.

Posters should also be removed from storefronts, utility poles and anywhere else they may have been hung in the search efforts.

Rosenberger was reported missing after not showing up to work or attending plans with friends on Saturday. He was last seen at the Village Green Hotel in Vernon on Friday, Jan. 24, around 11 p.m.

The 38-year-old was reported found and safe by Vernon North Okanagan RCMP at 1:42 p.m. on Jan. 29. But someone close to the search efforts broke the news in the Facebook group.

Family and friends said more information about Rosenberger are to be released at a later date.

READ MORE: Vernon volunteer wins JCI’s Good Citizen of the Year

READ MORE: JustIN: Vernon-born artist teases new tune with mom


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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