One of my digital rhetoric students last year composed her final online video essay about missing persons websites and argued that there are often commercial interests or other kinds of opportunistic entities taking advantage of such web-based appeals. In the case of the "Where is April?" site, the sections devoted to "history" and "blog" tell a sad and relatively straightforward story of a search for this mother of two growing cold over time with little of the transmedia hype that my student described in her project. The link to "tips" on the April site appears to be broken in some browsers, and the online form no longer works, although the telephone number for the confidential clearinghouse Let's Bring Them Home still functions. "Donate" leads to an appeal for travel money for April's mother, and "thanks" to appreciation for local law enforcement and merchants who have provided posters, billboards, and supplies.
The next search is scheduled for October of 2008. So far, little has turned up, except for April's clothes in a mine shaft. The site provides the following information for volunteers:
To volunteer for the search you must be at least eighteen years of age or accompanied by a parent. To enter the mineshafts you must be eighteen or older.
If you would like to volunteer to help with the search and/or excavation please understand that the terrain is rugged, the location is secluded, and that the mineshafts are dangerous. You assume all responsibility for your actions and/or injuries. Also note that cars and minivans might not be able to access the location and it is suggested that trucks be used to shuttle people to the site.