On April 6, 2019 Suzanne Lyall turned 41 years old.
But on March 2, 1998 she disappeared seemingly without a trace. Her mother, Mary Lyall has lived longer without her daughter than she has with her.
On Suzanne's birthday, Mary and her nonprofit The Center For Hope hosted the 18th Annual Missing Persons Day at the NYS Museum in Albany. Three years after Suzanne's disappearance Mary and her late husband Doug Lyall founded The Center For Hope, which provides assistance to those with missing loved ones.
The day started with a closed session for families and friends of missing persons and organizations that help affected families. The gathering allowed for the ones left behind to speak, sharing their stories and strength with each other.
During the closed session, Skidmore art professor Sarah Sweeney gave a presentation on an upcoming project that uses digital and interactive work that examines the relationship between photographic memory, objects and physical memories. The project will highlight missing persons.
State Senator Jim Tedisco was the Master of Ceremonies at the public portion of the day and has attended all 18 Missing Persons Days.
Mary Lyall spoke on what The Center For Hope has accomplished over the course of the past 18 years. The Center pursued the passage of two federal laws, "Suzanne's Law" which provides increased protection for young adults ages 18 to 21 and "The Suzanne Lyall Campus Security Act" which requires colleges across the nation to develop written plans in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.
In addition to federal laws, The Center has pursued the passage of state laws, helped create multiple publications and the implementation of the cold case playing card program that was distributed to prisoners in 57 county jails located in the state.
The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Maggie Zingman, a trauma psychologist with 30 years of experience. On September 27, 2004 her 18 year old Daughter Brittany Phillips was murdered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her killer has never been identified.
For 15 years Maggie has traveled the country on her "A Caravan to Catch A Killer Tour". She has traveled to 48 states, driven over 200,000 miles in a vehicle wrapped in pictures of Brittany and her story. Maggie has given speeches both locally and nationally related to the impact of trauma, working with the criminal justice system and how to survive loss.
Maggie shared Brittany's story and how she has never given up the fight for answers.
The day concluded with a candlelight vigil at The New York State Missing Persons Remembrance.
Suzanne Lyall's disappearance is being highlighted in the first season of Upstate Unsolved. Listen on the iHeartRadio app and everywhere Podcasts are available.