New Jersey

Investigators Using AI to Help Solve Cold Case of Missing NJ Boy 

Investigators are now using artificial intelligence to help them in finding Mark Himebaugh, a New Jersey boy who went missing more than 30 years ago. NBC10’s Johnny Archer spoke with Mark’s mother who remains hopeful.

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Tuesday was a bittersweet day for Maureen Himebaugh. It was her son’s 43rd birthday. It was also a reminder of his disappearance more than 30 years ago. 

“He’s always gonna be in my heart,” she said. “Always, always, always in my heart.”

On Nov. 25, 1991, Maureen went to the store, leaving her 11-year-old son Mark Himebaugh with his brother at their home in Middle Township, New Jersey. She hasn’t seen Mark since then. 

The boy left the house to watch firefighters battle a marsh fire. He then disappeared, with the only trace of him being a sneaker that was found on a Delaware Bay beach near his home. 

Mark Himebaugh

“A feeling came over me that was terrible because it started to get later and it was a cold, windy, November night,” Maureen said. “And those minutes went to hours. Hours went to days. And we were just looking for him for days. And then weeks. And then months. And now it’s years. So, we’re not giving up.” 

There have been renewed efforts to find Mark over the last three decades. Now, recent technological advancements are giving investigators hope that they’ll finally find a break in the cold case. 

On Wednesday, Middle Township Police announced they and the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office had entered an agreement with a company to utilize their Artificial Intelligence (AI) service to assist in the search for Mark. 

“Investigations can result in the collection of large amounts of data and evidence. AI has the potential to help find patterns and connections in this vast array of information that may not be readily apparent,” a Middle Township Police spokesperson wrote. “Law enforcement agencies are increasingly deploying new technologies to advance investigations. The Vollee AI service can help improve the efficiency and efficacy of these investigations. The use of the Vollee Neural AI Assistant, built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, enables advanced compute and processing capabilities.” 

Maureen is thankful for the continued efforts from investigators to help find her son. 

“It just seems like they never have given up on Mark’s case,” she said. “And I know my chief of police told me that he was so excited that apparently whatever it was they had to get to bring this artificial intelligence into the department.” 

Regardless of what happens with the new technology, Maureen remains hopeful that she’ll see her son again. 

“Hope, you know, is that I get an answer,” she said. “But my most promising answer is that he comes home. But I realize that may not be. But if he doesn’t come home at least I find out, you know, I get closure.”

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