It’s been three weeks since Jack Walsh’s family has seen him. Walsh is a Derry, New Hampshire man with special needs who walked away from an appointment at Parkland Medical Center on December 13, 2016.
Walsh’s family says they reported him missing to Derry police right away.
But state official didn’t notify the public until three days later, and Walsh’s family says it was three days too late.
"Those first hours are so crucial," said Walsh’s niece Allison Connolly.
Connolly and her sister Amy Powers have done everything they could to try and find him. They talked to business owners and posted fliers from Derry to the Seacoast, but it’s been three weeks now, and their 63-year-old uncle is still missing.
"There’s less hope as the days go on that we will find him alive," Powers said.
With few things left they can do, they’ve turned their attention to helping other families avoid the same heartache.
"We feel that if there had been some type of alert in those first 24 or 48 hours, it would have been very easy to locate him," Connolly said.
But there is no so-called "Silver Alert" in the state of New Hampshire. A Silver Alert, much like an Amber Alert, is a public notification system that prompts text messages, television interruptions, even reverse 911 calls when an adult with special needs is missing.
"I can know every celebrity’s every move on my cell phone, I should be able to know about a missing person for sure," Connolly said.
When we took the family’s story to State Representative James Webb of Derry, he admitted more should be done to protect people like Walsh.
"It’s a shortfall and anytime you see a shortfall you want to try to fix what’s broken," Rep. Webb said.
Walsh’s nieces say their uncle is part of a forgotten population and they’re on a mission to change that.
"Whether they walk away or they’re abducted, everyone needs to know," Powers said.
Derry Police refused to go on camera, but in a statement, Capt. Vern Thomas wrote, "We took all the appropriate actions we should have and continue to do so. Our only comment on this is that we are hoping Mr. Walsh’s information is kept current in the media. Anyone with information is asked to immediately contact the Derry Police Department at 603-432-6111. We want to locate him and get him back to a safe environment as soon as possible. Thank you."