Gabby Petito case sheds light on how to help Houston's missing

For weeks the nation has watched the Gabby Petito mystery unfold.

The outcome, while tragic, has sparked a conversation about the millions of others missing across the country.

Here in Houston, the group Texas Center for the Missing is committed to bringing closure to the countless local families who have no answers about their loved ones and their whereabouts.

Case Manager Melissa Rangel says other desperate families can get the same type of widespread attention as Petito, which can be crucial to finding answers, if they take the right steps.

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"Gabby's dad did this right. He immediately stood out there and asked for help," Rangel said. "In front of the cameras, in front of social media, and just put everything out there. That's what we ask our families."

Texas Center for the Missing started in March of 2000 after the disappearance of 17-year-old Gabriel Lester. Gabriel's mother, a Houston-area businesswoman, decided after his body was located four months later to turn the devastation into a positive effort that would have an impact on missing children and their families.

"A lot of people have the misconception that you must wait 24 hours to file a missing person's report, not true," Rangel said.

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The organization not only works with local law enforcement and volunteer groups, but also helps keep children safe via education and outreach.

"Once you see a missing person's flyer on social media locally then share it. Click on it," said Rangel. "Make sure that person is still missing, verify that information. It takes two seconds. Simply sharing a missing person's flyer that pop's up can have such a great impact."

For more information, visit centerforthemissing.org.