On April 3rd, 1997, Laura Kate Smither, a 12 year old child who was an aspiring ballerina, certified SCUBA diver, cadette girl scout, and gifted student was abducted near her home in Friendswood, Texas. The community of Friendswood established the Laura Recovery Center and launched a nationwide search to find the missing child. More than 6,000 volunteers put their own lives on hold to give their time and commitment to find Laura. Her body was discovered 17 days later.
An unprecedented relationship developed among the Friendswood Police Department, the community, and Laura's family. One common goal quickly surfaced: find Laura. The Friendswood Police trusted the community, acting through the Laura Recovery Center, to do the right thing, and they did. The community trusted law enforcement to investigate all leads, and they did. Laura's family, working together with law enforcement and the community, trusted that every effort would be made to recover Laura, and they were. In Friendswood, this all too uncommon relationship has come to be called the Triangle of Trust.
From April 3, 1997 to April 5, 1998, the volunteers from the Laura's search continued to respond to calls for help from families with missing children.
We have learned that a critical response void exists in the area of emergency preparedness in the event of child abduction. The first 6 - 12 - 24 - 72 hours are the best windows of opportunity for the safe recovery of a child.
The LAURA RECOVERY CENTER became a 501(c)3 and formally opened an office on April 5, 1998.
The LAURA RECOVERY CENTER was formed to honor the personal and professional sacrifices made on behalf of Laura, and works to prevent abductions through education and to find missing children.